Trinidad & Tobago: The road to London

Federations News

The recently held ASATT Invitational which concluded on December 19, 2011 gave a few swimmers another springboard in their preparations for qualification in the London Olympics. This meet was sanctioned by FINA and allowed for official qualification if certain times were met. For the most part swimmers came just a bit closer to realizing their goals.

Joshua Romany, Dylan Carter, Joshua McLeod, Abraham McLeod and Sharntelle Mc Lean all made their mark and signaled their intent for London. Not participating but present on the final day of competition was Kimberlee John Williams who also indicated her desire to qualify for the Olympics. There are commonalities among all these athletes other than the obvious – key is the mindset and determination to succeed. A variable is the pathway to preparation. Kimberlee is based overseas and has been attending the Baylor School, a private boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee after making the tough decision to leave St Joseph’s Convent to pursue her swimming career. She is currently preparing for the High School State Swimming Championships in February, qualifying for Carifta and the Long Course season and to ultimately qualify for the Olympics in the 100M backstroke or 100M butterfly event.

She admits to not being fully in touch but recognizes that there are many local swimmers with talent who can make it to the Olympics. Her own training regime runs for no less than six days per week and involves a great deal of sacrifice which to her, in no way compares to what her parents would have made for her and her younger sister. This helps to keep her motivated and so tiredness is regarded as a component of the sport. Her foundation in Trinidad is what she acknowledges as keeping her grounded and a better all-round person and swimmer as she gives kudos to her local coach Edmund Pouchet at the Blue Dophins Swim Club. Kimberlee continues to try to exemplify the qualities instilled in her by her support base and seemingly, effortlessly, has become a worthy role model.

After competing at the Invitational Joshua Romany opted to spend his Christmas vacation participating in an overseas clinic to fine-tune his technical skills and aid in his preparation over the next few months as he tries to secure the qualifying times for his pet events of 200M freestyle. Other sacrifices will be made as he is also preparing to write four subjects at the CXC level at the end of January 2012. This is being done to free up some time over the next few months as preparation intensifies, and lessen the load for the June examinations when he would do four more. Joshua Romany’s personal mantra is to train 100% every day as this is one way to ensure that he achieves success. For him, success will not only be when he makes the Olympic team but also the sense of achievement he feels each time he breaks a national record. He wants to keep that feeling for as long as possible and ensure that he leaves swimming on a high when that time comes.

 A similar programme is in place for his Marlins teammate Dylan Carter who is focusing on the 100M backstroke. Both attend Fatima College and are in the fifth form. Their training and guidance under Coach Franz Huggins, a former national swimmer and record holder, is being relied upon to achieve their Olympic goals. They both acknowledge that they would not be as successful as they have been without his support and direction, in addition to
their gym trainer and massage therapist. They therefore expect to attend International meets in the run-up to qualification as well as overseas swimming camps while at the same time fulfill their academic obligations. Self-discipline is an imperative for both Joshua and Dylan and they maintain a demanding training schedule to realize their goal.

For Joshua McLeod and his brother Abraham of Atlantis Aquatics Swim Club, their regime is as demanding and perhaps more challenging as they rise while most of us sleep, and journey for about 40 minutes to get to their training venue by 4:30am each morning. The December Invitational was a warm-up event for them as they build up to the signature event for all athletes. Their programme is geared towards trying to get qualifying times in early and so training is increasingly tough under their coach Joseph McLeod, their father and current first Vice President of the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

Both Joshua and Abraham are attending COSTAAT pursuing degrees – Joshua in Business Management and Marketing and Abraham in IT (Networking). Joshua previously attended St Benedict’s College in San Fernando while his sibling attended Palo Seco Secondary School.

To stay on course, Joshua has a self-imposed curfew of 9:30pm and a minimalist social life going compared to the average 21 year old. His focus is intense to the extent that he finds “BBM-ing” a distraction, or even a nuisance. Abraham, charmingly shy for his 19 years describes himself as “quiet”. He constantly sets himself short, medium and long-term goals and keeps working towards them to achieve his ultimate goal of representing his country in the Olympics. The siblings weather criticisms from the media and within the swimming fraternity, though difficult, as it expected that they perform optimally at every Meet without due consideration to different regimes for tapering and peaking. Mentally, they remain strong and train like someone is “coming at you”, giving 100% effort at all times. They too, train six (6) days a week and incorporate both pool-work and gym sessions in their regimen. In the run-up to the Olympic qualifications Joshua and Abraham McLeod also hope to attend overseas camps or Meets to measure their progress and improve their times.

Sharntelle Mc Lean knows what it is to experience the glory of making it to the Olympics. She has done so on two previous occasions and is determined to do it again. Sacrifice this time has been making the choice to suspend her career pursuits to concentrate on qualifying for London 2012. The lure of representing country is intense and so her mindset has morphed into totally focusing on peaking at the right time and attaining the Olympic qualifying standard in her events of choice. Her current coach and mentor is Ronald Corke of the Torpedoes Swim Club.

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