National boys 15 – 17 champion Joseph Seguina and Goodwill Swimming Championships silver medalists Hannibal and Athena Gaskin are expected to be Guyana’s representatives at this year’s International Swimming Federation (FINA) Short Course World Swimming Championships set for Istanbul, Turkey from December 12-16.
The Gaskin siblings and Seguina are expected to be accompanied by national swimming coach Stephanie Fraser.
Secretary of the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association, Dee George earlier this week confirmed the selection to Stabroek Sport.
It is the second time that Guyana will be attending the biennial event and the first time for the three swimmers.
Guyana’s Britany van Lange and Ronaldo Rodrigues marked Guyana’s inaugural participation two years ago when the championships were last held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over the years utilizing opportunities to get swimmers as much international exposure as possible has become the main focus of GASA. Van Lange, in particular has often remarked how her exposure at international events helped her in her development which is reflected in the fact that the Bishop’s High School student has already recorded a number of national records this year,
Most recently van Lange participated in the 2012 London Olympics along with Guyana’s Niall Roberts and following the Olympics the 15-year-old participated in the Goodwill Swimming Championships where she was Guyana’s most accomplished swimmer. George pointed out that Van Lange’s absence from the delegation for this year’s championships was no oversight but a deliberate choice to give another level of swimmers the same opportunity that has helped van Lange to develop her ability.
“We want to use the second tier of swimmers. We wanted to expose a new group of swimmers. Britany and Niall have been already been shortlisted for another competition next year so we thought that we should use it as an opportunity to get the swimmers out there to motivate them, and boost their performance when they get to see the level of seriousness that is out there.” George explained.
The magnitude of the event has not evaded the trio, who remarked of their anticipation to participate in the event. The experience is expected to be a tricky one for the three, whose highest level of competition has been at the regional Goodwill Swimming Championships.
“I’ve been swimming since I was seven and I’ve been training all the time so I think I deserve this opportunity. I know I won’t win but I have to try my best and see what I can do, you can say its motivating me to do better and I’m looking forward to it,” 15-year-old Hannibal Gaskin said.
Athena sees this as a much-needed opportunity to move into a higher level of competition and she wants to go out there and prove that she was the right choice.
“It’s a chance to move further up, the level of competition is different, you get an opportunity to go to a higher level of competition, going against people who you never competed with before, who are more experienced. I don’t feel pressured but you still have to do good by improving on your times. I want to improve my times so they won’t say that giving me this opportunity was a waste,” Athena Gaskin remarked in an invited comment.
In addition to training with Fraser, Athena has solicited the support of personal trainer Kezqweyah Yisrael, who has trained players from the national cricket team.
Athena and Hannibal train everyday of the week except Thursdays and Sundays. In the mornings the two travel all the way to the Aquatic Centre from their East Bank of Demerara home to train from 5am – 7am; they’re back in the pool in the afternoons from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Seguina trains with Cuban coach Isabel Maria Couso Fals.
“I was training hard before I knew I was selected and I’m training hard now, so nothing has really changed,” Athena commented.
She will participate in the most number of events, the women’s 50m and 200m freestyle, the 50m and 100m breaststroke, the 50m butterfly and the 100m IM; Hannibal will compete in the men’s 50m and 100m freestyle and the 50m and 100m butterfly, 17-year-old Seguina will participate in the 50 freestyle and the 50m and 100m butterfly events.