Antigua and Barbuda wins 30th OCES swimming championships in Saint Lucia

Antigua and Barbuda won the 30th OECS swimming championships hosted at the Rodney Bay Aquatics Center in Saint Lucia.

Antigua and Barbuda wins 30th OCES swimming championships in Saint Lucia
Antigua and Barbuda wins 30th OCES swimming championships in Saint Lucia

Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua and Barbuda won the 30th OECS swimming championships hosted at the Rodney Bay Aquatics Center in Saint Lucia.  The match witnessed the swim team from Caribbean neighbour Antigua and Barbuda emerge victorious. Thirty-one (31) swimmers represented the twin-island nation at the event, which ran from November 11th to 13th. They took a victory lap around the pool in celebration.

In the OECS swimming championships, it has truly been an incredible three days of competition for Fayth Jeffrey at this year’s 30th OECS Swimming Championships.

The result of the OECS swimming championships are as follows: 

  • 200m IM – Gold 
  • 100m Breaststroke – Gold
  • 50m Butterfly – Gold
  • 100m Freestyle – Silver 
  • 50m Backstroke – Bronze 

At the end of the championship, Fayth emerged as the 11-12 Age Group Champion. She also set the OECS 11-12 record in 200m IM and Saint Lucia Age Group records in the 200m Free and 200m IM.

All-in-all, Fayth took home 7 Golds , 1 Silver, and two Bronze medals AND achieved 8 PB times. Her hard work and dedication truly paid off. Congratulations, Fayth. The entire Pirates Family applaud your performance.

A visionary does not have the power to predict the future, instead they have the will to create a better future. David Peterkin, known simply as ‘Coach’ to generations of swimming families throughout the OECS, has been one of the most influential figures within the OECS when it comes to youth and sport development. One might even consider him, The Godfather of OECS Swimming.

After accompanying the Saint Lucia CARIFTA team as a coach and chaperone for several years in the mid to late 1980’s, Coach began to recognize how the OECS could benefit from having its own Championship standard competition in the sport of swimming.

Thanks to the passion of a few parents at the time from St Lucia and Antigua, mainly Coach and Michael Hart, the idea of hosting the Championships came to life through nurturing relationships in the business community, which led to creating a partnership with SAGICOR, who stood as the title sponsor and key contributor to hosting an annual OECS Swimming Championships for over 25 years.

The only hurdle at the time with hosting the Championships in OECS territories, was how would one get the world governing body of Aquatics, FINA, and UANA, the governing body of Aquatics in the region, to recognize a Championship level competition that could not take place in a competition standard pool, (at the time there were no competitive pools in the OECS).

As has been the case for many, if not all OECS territories when they launched their efforts to develop aquatics, the adage, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’, became the backbone to the development of Aquatics/Swimming in the OECS. Fast forward 30 years later and 3 countries have privately funded competition standard pools, with St. Lucia in line to be the first OECS territory with an Olympic size pool, a dream communicated over 33 years ago when Coach planted his vision into the minds and hearts of all who cared to listen.

The Godfather began the movement in St. Lucia by searching for small hotels and families with backyard pools to allow use of their facility during the evenings and on weekends for competitions.

It would have been great to be a fly on the wall to listen to what those conversations sounded like, but knowing the passion that Coach has for the sport of swimming and youth development through sport, I’m pretty sure everybody was sold after the first conversation as they showed a will to support his vision by offering the use of their facility.

Having created the blueprint in Saint Lucia, Coach was instrumental to the development of swimming throughout the OECS by encouraging Antigua, Grenada, Dominica and St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Kitts & Nevis, to pursue a similar path in developing competitive swimming in their countries. 

The goal was simple, grow the OECS swimming championships from the inaugural two teams that began the movement in 1991, to as many territories as possible within the OECS to raise the standard of Aquatics/Swimming within the region, and most importantly, advocate for the only sport that could teach anyone to save their life by learning how to swim.

Coach recognized that strategic partnerships could play a vital role in the development of Aquatics in the region. One of the most beneficial organizations that helped develop many sports in the Caribbean was the American Peace Corps. Through first hand experience of being mentored by Kelly Childers, a triathlete from the United States with a passion for sports and a striking resemblance to swimming legend Matt Biondi, the vision that Coach had imagined, began to blossom before his very eyes.

With the aid of numerous other very special people throughout the OECS who worked with the American Peace Corp, competitive swimming in the OECS region began to take shape as a highly anticipated annual event that would spark the imagination of swimmers, coaches and parents alike, to become part of this crazy beautiful sport that has touched thousands of lives throughout the OECS in a very positive way as a development meet that continues have an economic impact in Sport Tourism in the region.

The path to arrive at this 30 year celebration has been mired with challenges that would have made almost anyone quit and walk away from their vision; so thank goodness Coach never understood what the word quit meant. If you were to ask him if all of the time, and tears and struggle was worth it, he would say to look at the growth of OECS swimming 30 years later.