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Trinidad and Tobago Pan Am swimmers exceed coach McLean’s expectations

Trinidad and Tobago Pan Am swimmers exceed coach McLean’s expectations

Sports


TT's Nikoli Blackman competes in the 1500m freestyle at the Pan American Age Group Swimming Championships, on Sunday, at the National Aquatic Centre, Couva.  Photo by Lincoln Holder
TT’s Nikoli Blackman competes in the 1500m freestyle at the Pan American Age Group Swimming Championships, on Sunday, at the National Aquatic Centre, Couva. Photo by Lincoln Holder

Trinidad and Tobago swim coach Sharntelle McLean expected her swimmers to deliver an outstanding performance at the 2022 Pan American Age Group Swimming Championships, but said they exceeded her expectations.

TT ended the four-day meet on Sunday at the National Aquatic Centre in Couva with 61 medals – 24 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze.

TT were third in the points standings with 818.5 points, behind Puerto Rico (1,073) and Peru (1,149).

There were multiple brilliant individual performances by the TT swimmers. Nikoli Blackman, who broke three meet records, was the top swimmer in the boys 15-17 age group.

In the boys 13-14 age group, the TT pair of Zachary Anthony and Giovanni Rivas were first and second respectively.

In the 11-12 boys, Alejandro Agard was third.

McLean, who was proud of all the TT swimmers, mentioned the effort of Darren Belfon, Jahmia Harley, Johann-Matthew Matamoro and Liam Carrington.

“I expected them to come out there and really race with their hearts, but it was a bit more than I expected, definitely,” McLean said.

McLean commended all the TT officials and the swimmers for their commitment.

“It definitely was a collective team effort, from the management go straight down to the athletes, the chaperones, the massage therapist.”

The crowd was small over the first two days of competition, but on the two final days the TT supporters created a vibe at the venue. The TT fans blew horns and one woman even started her own rhythm section by beating a drum.

McLean said the support would have encouraged the TT swimmers.

“I think that definitely (helped), especially on the last two days, where from the third day athletes tend to get tired with the amount of racing that they do and it is back-to-back. So definitely the crowd and the support helped increase their energy and motivated them to finish strong.”

McLean was not surprised Blackman was one of the best swimmers of the meet.

“It is more that he is continuing his performance, the way he started the year with Carifta Games and then coming into nationals and going into these championships. He is continuing to ride the wave that he created for the year and going in a real good direction for the competitions this year.”

Blackman, a former student of Bishop Anstey Junior School and now at Fatima College, also booked a spot in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the men’s 50-metre freestyle.

Discussing her experience as coach, McLean said, “I think my experience was definitely a rewarding one and I don’t think it would have been a rewarding one if we did not have the type of assistant coaches, the manager, the chaperones – the management that I had with me made the job easier.”

McLean also thanked the parents of the swimmers for keeping them healthy during the covid19 pandemic.

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