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Baptiste, Julien, Mc Leod in action as T&T starts Carifta swim hunt
This country will begin its quest for a first Carifta Swimming Championship team title since 2010 when the 29th edition of the event splashes off at the Piscina Olimpico Roly Bislik, Oranjestad, Savaneta, Aruba, today.
Last year, T&T swimmers ended second on the medal table with 51 medals (22 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze), 13 behind Guadeloupe (17 gold, 28 silver and 19 bronze) which won for a third straight year while Aruba was third with 50 (21 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze).
Leading the charge for T&T, led by coach Mark Pouchet, will be the trio Nanjing, China Youth Olympic Games-bound swimmers in Kristin Julien, David Mc Leod and Jabari Baptiste who will all be in action in morning heats with the finals scheduled for tonight from 6 pm.
The heats should be a warm-up for a number of T&T swimmers who are expected to advanced to their respective finals.
Julien is the top-seed in the 15-17 girls 50m backstroke and a favourite for gold while team-mate Ariel Cape is ranked fifth in the same event. Mc Leod’s will enter the 15-17 boys 50m backstroke as the top seed as well based on his Youth Olympics A qualifying standard time while Baptiste is ranked third, and the latter will also line up in the 100m butterfly as the second ranked swimmer.
Among the other T&T early medal hopefuls are Jada Chai and Jahmia Harley in the 11-2 girls 50m backstroke; Chai and Vrisnelit Faure in the 100m butterfly while Faure and Sabrina David compete in the 200m breaststroke.
In the 13-14 boys 100m butterfly, Kael Yorke goes after gold while Justin Samlalsingh is favourite in the 13-14 boys 50m backstroke, and in the 11-12 boys 100m butterfly, Aqeel Joseph and Luke Gillette are entered.
Joseph and Gabriel Bynoe will represent T&T in the 11-12 boys 50m backstroke.
This year, the T&T squad while is not favoured to win the overall title though, as it is without seven of its top swimmers who brought in 23 of the 47 medals won last year in Jamaica including Dylan Carter, Joshua Romany, Alexandria Donahue, Tyla Martin, Andre Goin, Joshua Ramkissoon and Rebecca Marshall due to other commitments, mainly school studies. However, Pouchet said the team still had a good crop of swimmers who will do the team well led by Baptiste, Julien and Mc Leod, all Youth Olympic qualifiers.
He added, “The team has been prepared well and we expect personal bests and medal winning performances from 95 to 100 per cent of the swimmers. We are also only fielding relays in three of the six age-groups and relays offer double points so we start behind there.
T&T will also be represented in three of six relay finals tonightt featuring the 4 x 100m freestyle relay- the girls 11-12; boys 13 -14 and boys 15-17 where the 13-14 quartet of Yorke, Osaze Riley, James Gillete and Christopher Mohammed are the top seeds.
In Aruba, T&T will also compete in the Open Water events.
The Carifta Championships will also serve as an official qualifying meet for the 16th FINA World Championships 2015 which will be held in Kazan, Russia. and has already been approved as a qualifying meet for Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Veracruz, Mexico and the Youth Olympic Games.