Team BVI Leaves Aruba With CARIFTA Gold!

BVI Swimming Federation

DSC_0862Team BVI swum itself into the territory’s record books after capturing gold at the XXIV CARIFTA Swimming Championships recently concluded in Aruba. Thirteen year-old Elinah Philip collected medals in each of her four events and set a CARIFTA record in the 50m Butterfly where she earned her gold medal with a time of 28.71.

Elinah’s medal haul also included a silver in the 50m Freestyle and a bronze each in the 100m Butterfly and the 100m Freestyle. Both of her 50m swims came in under old records. Sister, Amarah, in the meantime, powered her way to personal bests in the 50m Freestyle and the 100m Freestyle.

“CARIFTA was a great experience,” said Elinah after her races. “I swam well and made personal bests in all my races. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it still turned out extremely well.” The young swimmer is now looking toward the future. “I plan to swim even faster than the times I swam this week and achieve my goals for the Commonwealth Games,” she said. Elinah is England’s second fastest 2000 born girl in the 50m Freestyle and the third fastest in the 50m Butterfly.

The CARIFTA Championships are an annual age group meet for the Caribbean, similar in form and origin to its athletics counterpart. This year’s event was sanctioned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) as a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifier and attracted the best in the region for a very high level of competition. The Championships also served as a Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games qualifying event.

Team BVI came away with the drive and determination to achieve even more and used this competition as an indicator of greater things to come according to BVI Swimming Federation officials. “We are very pleased with their performances,” said Tracy Bradshaw, the girls’ mother and the Federation’s Secretary General. “The championships were a magnificent experience for both girls. Amarah just got into the 15-17 age group and captured a couple of personal bests this outing. She’ll have another few years to move through and improve on her performances and we are excited about her future in swimming. Elinah had an exceptional Championships which has definitely boosted her confidence as a competitor.”

At last year’s OECS Swimming Championships in St. Lucia, Elinah captured 10 medals and the OECS high point award in the girls 11-12 age group while establishing five new OECS records in the Girls 11-12 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 50m Butterfly, 100m Butterfly, and 200m Individual Medley. Amarah won six medals in the 13-14 age group and copped the 3rd place high point award in that age group.

“Their times at CARIFTA were even better than at last year’s meet in St. Lucia demonstrating that they are both learning and improving but they still have much more to learn as they are fairly new to the sport,” said Ms. Bradshaw.

Speaking about her races, fifteen year-old Amarah said that “CARIFTA 2014 was a huge learning experience for me and showed me where and what I need to improve in all of my events.” She added that she hopes to “attain many personal bests in future competitions leading up to the Commonwealth Games and the Youth Olympic Games.”

Elinah and her sister, Amarah, were the BVI’s sole qualifiers at this year’s CARIFTA Championships which featured 23 countries and territories from around the Caribbean region.

“In order to race at this level you have to race often and this is something the BVI Swimming Federation will continue to pursue for our swimmers despite our local challenges,” said the girls’ father, Elsworth Philip, National Coach and President of the Swimming Federation. “We want more of the territory’s swimmers to achieve the CARIFTA experience because it takes a lot of work to get here. We are definitely looking at fielding a larger team in the future.”

The Philips sisters are expected to compete at the XX Commonwealth Games, 23rd July – 3rd  August in Glasgow, Scotland. Both girls train in Hertfordshire, England.