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HISTORY – 2000
Being an Olympic year, the first of the new millennium, the Associations prime focus was therefore to prepare the strongest team possible. In April, our National Team set the pace with a strong showing at the CARIFTA Games in Barbados and followed this with an even better showing at the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships in Aruba. But the best was saved for last, as all Jamaicans proudly cheered on Janelle Atkinson and Angela Chuck as they competed in they competed in the Sydney Olympics.

While Chuck preformed credibly in the 50 M Freestyle, and played an important supporting role for Atkinson, Atkinson captured the imagination of the Jamaican public as she swam the 400 M Freestyle finishing fourth in a new personal best and National Record time. Atkinson?s strong fighting spirit in the pool mixed with humility and obvious satisfaction with her achievements is an example for all. Janelle Atkinson, like Andrew Phillips in 1984, as well as our swimmers who participated in the CARIFTA Games and CISC clearly demonstrated that Jamaican?s can compete head to head, not only with our Caribbean friends, but also with the best in the World - we must get that message our loud and clear!

Highlights
  • Establishing the National Squad in February 2000.
  • Finishing a close third at the CARIFTA Games held in Barbados. Only 5 points separated the top three places.
  • Fielding Jamaica?s first National Synchronized Swimming Team at the 2000 Caribbean Island Swimming Championships where the team won a Silver Medal – a notable achievement.
  • A record haul of 34 swimming medals at the 2000 Caribbean Island Swimming Championships. Jamaica continued to improve in the points standing finishing 4TH with 454 points.
  • Janelle Atkinson?s outstanding performance in the 400 and 800 M Freestyle events at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Registration

As of December 1, 2000 there were 14 teams and 674 swimmers registered.

Competitions (National Representation)

The National Swim Team competed in three competitions in 2000. Jamaican swimmers continued to increase there share the spoils in the Caribbean Swimming arena. This was highlighted by the best medal haul and point standing at a Caribbean Island Swimming Championship in many years and Janelle Atkinson achieving the best finish in the 2000 Olympic Games.
CARIFTA (April 27 – May 1, 2000)

After winning the competition on home soil in 1999, this was to be a test of our depth as we attempted to defend the title away from home. The competition was keenly contested and in the end just 5 points separated the top three teams Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. Despite a wonderful display of team spirit and many excellent performances, the Jamaicans who lead the point standings going into the final event, just failed to retain the trophy.

Special credit goes to Janelle Atkinson displayed world-class swimming, winning seven (7) Gold and one (1) Silver medals. Raine Paulson-Andrews also medalled in every event that she competed in winning one (1) Gold, two (2) Silver and two (2) Bronze. In a highly competitive male division, Ramon James was the top Jamaican as he won one (1) Gold, two (2) Silver and a Bonze.

While the team did not retain the trophy, the team should be congratulated for the way they represented Jamaica. In a time when there is so negativism about our youth, their team spirit and overall behavior was heartwarming. I was proud of every member of the team.
CISC (July 19 - 26, 2000 )

Jamaica?s team to the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships was one of the largest National swim teams travel overseas. The advent of the National Squad had a positive impact on this team as a number of seniors were encouraged to remain or return to the water. These seniors not only played a significant leadership role, but added depth to the team. I believe that the example set by the seniors, helped to improve the professional approach by our swimmers to National representation, a factor that helped to produce thirty two (32) medal performances, the most ever by a Jamaican team at this competition. It should be noted that this was achieved even though Janelle Atkinson was not on the team, a deliberate decision to allow her personal coach to focus on her preparation for the Olympic Games.

For the first time, Jamaica was represented in International Synchronized Swimming Competition when six swimmers put on the Jamaican colors. Despite the tensions of competing at that level for the first time, the swimmers, Coached by Katherine LimSang did a credible job and won their Jamaica?s first Synchronized Swimming medal when Michela Lee and Rochelle Foster placed second to take the Silver in the 16-18 years duet competition.

The most notable performance was Angela Chuck?s Olympic Qualifying time of 27.20 in 50 M Freestyle. The swim capped a good meet for an elated Chuck who won Gold in the 50, 100 and 200 M 18-21 Freestyle events. Another Olympic hopeful, Ramon James swan his best time in the first hundred of the 200 M Backstroke but just failed to make the qualifying time. Alison Bardowell swimming in the 13-14 age group, had her best meet the National level when she medalled in all six of her events (3 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze). The attached results will show a number of other excellent individual and team performances.

The difficulties experienced in raising the JA$1.3 million to fund the team happily did not affect the performance of the swimmers. I would like to express my gratitude to the Team Management, Parents, Clubs and other persons who helped to meet our obligations. The team management did a marvelous job to keep the swimmers focused – well done.

Judging – Michele Lee, Helen Eyre and Rose Foster gained valuable experience as judges in the Synchronized Swimming Competition. Although they no previous experience at that level competition Mrs. Sandy Roberts, Secretary of FINA?s Synchronized Swimming Committee, was very happy with their performance. John Eyre acted as stroke judge in the Swimming Competition.

OLYMPIC GAMES 2000 – Sydney, Australia (September 15 – October 2, 2000)

Competing in the Olympic Games is the dream of most serious athletes and captures the imagination of almost everyone else. The 2000 Olympics Games was held in Sydney Australia and was, in the words of the IOC President Mr. Juan Antonia Samaranch ?the best games ever?. Jamaica?s Janelle Atkinson and Angela Chuck competed in the swimming competition where 15 World and 38 Olympic records were broken, which made the competition one of the fastest ever.

Jamaica?s swim team consisted of five (5) members: Janelle Atkinson and Angela Chuck (swimmers), Coach Jackie Walter (Head Coach), Coach Larry Shofe and myself as Team Manager. The inclusion of Coach Shofe, Janelle?s personal coach, added depth and experience to the team management, neither of whom had been involved at that level before. I believe that the lessons learnt and experiences of the competition will help the ASAJ to raise the level of competitive swimming in Jamaica.

The Jamaican swimmers swam all of the events entered. Janelle Atkinson swam the 400 M and 800 M Freestyle and Angela Chuck the 50 M Freestyle.

Janelle Atkinson
400 M Heats – Swimming in her first Olympics Games Janelle was very nervous, but despite this, she went out strong and maintained even splits for the entire race. She finished third in her heat, establishing a new personal best and Jamaica National Record time with a time of 4:09.61 Her nervous tension prior to the race paid its toll and she was extremely sore at the end of the race. The Jamaican medical team responded very well to this and dealt with the symptoms quickly. Janelle had the third fastest time going into the final.

400 M Final – Janelle was clearly more relaxed at the start and once again swam a strong race and seemed well placed in third place with 100 M to go. She was unable to hold off a strong challenge from America?s Diana Munz and finished forth in another personal best and National Record time of 4:08.79. Despite not medalling, Janelle?s performance seems to have made a significant impact on many Jamaicans.

800 M Heats – Most feel that this event should be Janelle?s best event, however recent experience has shown that this has not been the case at the end of the swim season (possible due to subtle changes in training sets – more sprints). Once again, Janelle swam a good race although she did not have her usual strong finish. She finished ninth overall with a time of 8:34.51, another personal best and Jamaica National Record.

Angela Chuck
50 M Heats – This was Angela?s only event for the Games. While she had no realistic chance of moving to the next round she had set a goal of establishing a new National Record for the event. Seeded 6th in her heat Angela placed 2nd in a time of 27.48 just missing the record.

Performance summary – Both swimmers were well prepared coming into the games but it is clear that there one area that must be addressed if Jamaica?s swimmers are to win and this is ?confidence?. The winners and challengers had the attitude of ?I am going to win? where our swimmers seem more to think ?I don?t want to fail?. This is more a systemic problem as Jamaica has not been able to expose our top swimmers to competition at the highest level often enough. Funding is a clear issue, but the ASAJ must work to address this shortcoming.

I would like to thank the Jamaica Olympic Association for including Coach Shofe on the Jamaican delegation. His presence added depth and experience to the management team and was I believe a just reward for what he has done for Jamaican swimming.

Jamaicans of all walks of life were captivated by the performances in Sydney. In 2001, the members of the ASAJ must find ways to capitalize on this and if the entries in the Mayberry Prep Schools Meet held December 1-2 is an indication, the interest is definitely there.

Competitions (Local)

Despite experiencing facility related problems for most of the year, most competitions were held on schedule. The Walter Lowi Sprint Meet was originally cancelled as the National Stadium Pool was closed for repairs. The meet was later reinstated on short notice after the FFA Swim Meet, being an international competition, was cancelled due to concerns about the pool availability.

Schools swimming, particularly at the preparatory and primary schools level continues to grow in popularity. Despite imposing additional entry restrictions for the Mayberry Investments School Championships the number of entries, particularly in the Prep/Primary section, continued to grow. The net result was having sessions longer than desirable.

Synchronized Swimming

History was created in July 2000 when Michela Lee and Rochelle Foster won Jamaica?s first ever medal in an international synchronized swimming competition. Coached by Katherine Lymsang, six swimmers were selected after council consulted with Mrs. Rose Cody, a member of the FINA Synchronized Swimming Technical Committee. Entered in three age groups, the Jamaicans were competitive and showed great potential although it was clear that a lot of work remains if they are to be contenders at the CCCAN or higher level.

Development Programs
National Team

In the first quarter of 2000 the National Squad Program was introduced. Coach Jackie Walter was appointed as National Coach, however the position of Assistant Coach was not filled. Over 30 swimmers, local and overseas were selected to the Senior and Junior Squads. The program has focused primarily on the Senior Squad swimmers who have trained together three sessions a week and attended a number of local and overseas swim camps. The Junior Squad swimmers have been invited to a number of local camps and training sessions. One of the goals of the program was to encourage our senior swimmers to either remain in or return to serious training. The program meet this objective and these swimmers played an important role in our success at the CISC.

Judges Development

Mr. John Lopez and Miss. Kristina Chuck completed the first draft of a Judges training and certification program.

Through the efforts of Mr. Lopez and Mrs. Sarah Newland-Martin (YMCA), there has been a significant increase in interest in judging and officiating. As a result, there has been training of one sort or another at every meet held in the last nine months.

Coaches Development

The coaches workshops introduced in 2000 proved to be an effective environment for training, discussion and communication. As the coaches feedback was positive, the program will continue in 2001 and all clubs and schools are encouraged to ensure that their coaches attend. One aspect that has encouraged me was the positive interaction I witnessed at the workshops I attended – this must be encouraged, as this is one of the best ways to transfer knowledge.

Administrative

In July, Mr. Nigel Bair resigned as treasurer due to other commitment. Nigel has indicated that he will continue to work for swimming and indeed is key player in Mayberry Investments School Championship sponsorship. Mrs. Pat Prescod filled the position of Treasurer.

Facilities
National Stadium Pool

Through the UDC and with San Jose Accord funding, the spectator stands at the National Stadium pool were replaced by aluminum bleachers. The work was completed by a Venezuelan contractor. In September the National Stadium Pool was closed to repair leaking pipes under the pool deck, primarily around the diving well. The rate of leakage made it difficult to maintain an acceptable level of water quality.

The Colorado Timing Pads purchased through the San Jose accord in 1994 became unreliable. In July the ASAJ ordered 10 new timing pads from Daktronics but was unable, due to funding problems, to complete payment when the year ended.


 

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