Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre went all out from April 11th to April 15th to celebrate the 20th Annual RHAC Invitational Swim Meet. The event has been held for 20 years consecutively under the theme “Friendship through Competition” which is a record in itself. For this momentous affair, Dr. Diane Worrell and her team put together an event to be remembered.
A record number of swimmers took part for this year. 381 swimmers taking part in the 4 days of pool swimming and 56 swimmers in the 1 day of open water swimming, this by far surpassed any previous swimming event held in St Lucia. In fact, on a daily basis the facility had a record number of visitors. On average 300 spectators attended the meet on any given day of competition; this does not including officials, coaches, and volunteers. A record number viewers were graced with on line live feeds provided by Winners TV and connected via FLOW.
There were records set throughout the meet including 65 Meet/Event records by a variety of regional swimmers; Age Group Records (St Lucia) by Naima Hazell with 3, Mikaela Casimir with 2, Nicholas McLennon with 1, Antoine Destang with 10, and Jayhan Odlum Smith with 3. Odlum Smith further set 2 National Records in the 50M Fly and 100M Fly. Odlum Smith and Hazell will be off to Barbados in the next few days for Carifta Swimming Championships.
Overall High Point Winners by Age Group: 6 &U Girls– Kaija Eastmond, Pirates Swim Club from Barbados; 6 & U Boys – Kione Deshong, Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent; 7-8 Girls – Amiya Harrison, High Tide Stingrays from Barbados; 7-8 Boys –Zahid Derrick, Wadadli Aquatic Racers from Antigua; 9-10 Girls – Selah Wilshire, Riptide Swim Team from Antigua; 9-10 Boys – Antoine Destang, Sharks Swim Club from St Lucia; 11-2 Girls – Abigail Deshong, Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent; 11-12 Boys – Eltonte Leonard, Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent; 13-14 Girls – Mya Defreitas, Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent; 13-14 Boys – Bryson George, Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent; 15 & Over Girls – Mikaili Charlemagne, Sharks Swim Club from St Lucia; and 15 & Over Boys – Delron Felix, Grenfin Swim Club from Grenada.
All the teams put up a fight for first place with the top 5 clubs changing position throughout the meet. Finishing 5th overall was Longvillier Swim Club from Martinique; 4th was Shoelcher Natation 2000 from Martinique; 3rd was Blue Marlins from St Vincent; 2nd was Sea Jays Swim Club (St Lucia); and the overall 1st place winners – Black Sands Swim Squad from St Vincent.
In the Open Water Swim Competition, the overall winners are placed in their event and age groups; the winners:
500M were 7-8 Girls – Eva Fercot, Martinique; 9-10 Girls – Ina-MouneFraissinet, Martinique; 7-8 Boys – Nathan Berlioz, Martinique; 9-10 Boys Matthew Dacosta Hinds, Barbados. Fraissinet finished first overall for the Girls and Dacosta Hinds was first overall for the Boys.
1K (1000 M) 9-10 Girls – Jade Bering, Martinique; 11-12 Girls – Lisa Jean, Martinique; 13-14 Girls – Mya Defreitas, St Vincent; 15 & O Girls – Evelyn Day, St Lucia; 7-8 Boys – Zahid Derrick, Antigua; 9-10 Boys – Luke McIntyre, Barbados; 11-12 Boys – Kristopher Gilbert, Martinique; 15 & O Boys – Sebastian Mann, St Lucia. Defreitas was overall female first place and Gilbert was first for the males.
3K (3000M) in the 7-8 Girls – Mya Jean-Phillipe, Martinique; 9-10 Girls – Siddhi Sieusanker, Trinidad; 13-14 Girls – Maely-KloeJanvier, Martinique; 9-10 Boys – Adam Scoon, Trinidad; 11-12 Boys – Naeem D’Souza, Antigua; 15 & O Boys – Andy Cinna, Martinique. Overall Female first place winner was Janvier and Male first place winner was Cinna.
5K (5000M) 15 & Over Girls – Jade Jean-Baptiste Edouard, Martinique; 14 & Over Boys – Adrien Cheri-Zecote, Martinique. Both were also first respectively for their genders in this event.
Adding to the record number of participants and visitors as well as record swims, RHAC saw record support from volunteers, officials, and sponsors making this event a grand affair. Starting with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, April 12th, Richard Peterkin (past president of the St Lucia Olympic Committee) sincerely expressed how this facility and the RHAC Invitational Meet have lead the way to the development of swimming in Saint Lucia. His remarks connected with many persons on premises as they have returned year after year to participate in this long standing regional swim meet.
The jovial ambiance from the 205 visiting swimmers joining the 177 local swimmers, emitted a true sense of friendship throughout the competition. No matter if they were from Barbados, Antigua, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Vincent, Trinidad, Grenada or St Lucia, there was excitement and fellowship among them all. The coaches and club administrators carried the same cheery viewpoints throughout the meet.
Many warm comments of how prominent the meet is were heard from swimmers to parents to coaches – even to volunteers. Kyle Dougan, coach of Black Sands Swim Squad, commented via social media “Last day of racing at one of THE BEST competitions in the Caribbean” as he posted pictures of his swimmers achieving their best during the meet. Others could be overheard commented about the fun of the meet and thanking Dr. Diane Worrell as well as her organizing committee for a wonderful experience. First timers such as Jamar Eastmond, who brought his daughter from Barbados to participate, were grateful for the hospitality and time the organizers took to assist in their travel.
Brad Worrell, former Saint Lucian swimmer and son of Drs. David and Diane Worrell, came home to assist with organizing throughout the meet. He was grateful and thankful for the evolution of his swimming achievements through the RHAC Invitational Swim Meet. Currently, he and his older brother David have a swim school outside of Washington, DC.