ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda finished with a total of 113 medals that included 25 gold, 49 silver and 39 bronze as they recorded a third place finish in the 2011 OECS Swim Championships held at Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre in St Lucia over the weekend.
The 29-member team, which amassed a total of 1,139 points, finished behind hosts St Lucia and Grenada who tied in the number one position with 1,484 points each.
St Vincent & the Grenadines finished fourth with 261 points, while British Virgin Islands placed fifth with 216.5 points.
Team Manager Gillian Noel-Bigler praised the swimmers for their performances in St Lucia, saying that they “swam their hearts out.”
“It is just amazing what the swimmers have produced. We have great confidence in our swimmers. They have worked very hard. They have done an amazing job, and they went in full force,” she said.
“I have never ever seen a team come together with such passion and they swam their hearts out. They did their best and now we have the results,” she added.
“We also broke our four OECS records (and) now there are a total of 13 records held by Antigua & Barbuda. Ten of our swimmers achieved the top three in our overall positions.”
Noel-Bigler said that it is the hope of the clubs that the recent results will encourage others to get involved in swimming.
“That is the aim – to get everybody involved in swimming whether it’s just for recreation and whether it is competitive; but I bet you we will see an influx of swimmers who are interested in participating in something which really brings everybody together in a healthy environment and it really gives everybody a wonderful gelling which allows us to develop friendships not only throughout our nation but also throughout our region,” she said.
Antigua & Barbuda were originally slated to host the 2011 championships but were forced to abandon their plans following refusals by the Antigua & Barbuda Amateur Swimming Association (ABASA) to sanction the meet.
Asked what is the next step in trying to have the unaffiliated clubs become full members of ABASA, Noel-Bigler said they are awaiting the rectification of the association’s constitution before any further decisions can be made.
“I do know they were trying to organise a constitution and get that up and running. So we are just waiting for them to get their housekeeping in order and I am sure that it will be forthcoming in the near future. I definitely hope so because it would be nice if all of us could be represented under one umbrella,” she said.
“In the interim, we will go forward and represent the children in the best light that we can and give them the opportunity to represent their nation.”
Antigua & Barbuda will bid to host next year’s event at the OECS Swimming Congress. They will however receive competition from BVI and Grenada.