The Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA) started official trials yesterday to select swimmers for the August 13-15 Goodwill Games in Suriname.
The trials which are being held at the Castellani Pool will run through Sunday. Eight swimmers have already qualified for the Games having accomplished qualifying times at a GASA meet held earlier in the year. In the girls 13-14 years category Athena Gaskin, Brittany van Lange and Soroya Simmons have qualified and in the boys category Ronaldo Rodrigues and Serrano Gonsalves have already secured their places. Steffi DeNobrega and Noelle Smith, both in the girls 15 – 17 category, round out the list of qualifiers.
Each country is allotted a maximum of 40 swimmers and officials from the GASA are hoping to send a full complement. However, funding will determine how many swimmers can participate. GASA Secretary Karen Pilgrim had told Stabroek News that the parents of the swimmers usually cover the costs for the meets.
Nevertheless some parents are not entirely pleased with this arrangement. Parents have said that they do not believe that it is fair to expect them to handle all the costs as their children are representing Guyana at the games. While, they do not expect the government to cover the entire cost they believe that some financial assistance should be forthcoming. Stabroek Sport understands that earlier in the year Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony had made it clear to all sport associations that the ministry was in no position to assist with funding for meets. Ordinarily the ministry would assist in waiving the travel tax paid at the airport. Additionally, the GASA would provide some financial assistance to swimmers. Pilgrim had said that the Association hosts fundraising exercises often and it would also help parents solicit funds. “Some parents would request letters to ask for sponsorship, if they request letters we will provide letters. Some parents do that and if any parents want to do a fundraiser or so, we do what we can to assist,” she said. The Association held its first fundraiser late last month.
The Goodwill Games is an annual event where four countries – Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and more recently, Barbados – participate in swimming events. The games feature five categories for swimmers 17 years and under, starting with the eight years and under category. Last year a 17-member contingent represented Guyana in Barbados capturing 17 medals.