Rising star Raekwon Noel has been creating waves in the swimming arena in Guyana.
The 12-year-old knew from a rather young age that the water was always for him.
He became curious about the sport after seeing other people swim at the Princess Hotel pool, resulting in him wanting to learn.
“When I was younger I would go to Princess and I used to see people in the pool swimming.
It’s from there that I knew I wanted to learn to swim.
“I started to swim at Colgrain Pool and I haven’t stopped since,” the youngster said.
As he progressed and began to learn the techniques of the different strokes and his speed developed, he started to do his own research to refine his new technique.
“After I started going to swimming at Colgrain and got past the `learn to swim’ (stage) and was able to swim well enough, I started to look at swimming videos online. I would spend a lot of time online just looking at videos and try to correct my technique so that I could be better in the water and so that my strokes would look cleaner and smoother plus to improve my speed so I would get faster,” he recalls.
Like most young athletes in Guyana currently, Noel is a student/athlete who has the task of balancing athletics and academics as everyone wants to be as successful as possible in the long run.
The first form Christ Church High School student has been able to find the equilibrium between swimming and school.
“The focus is there for both because I want to do big things in my life.
“It was fairly easy for me to continue swimming during the National Grade Six Assessment.
A lot of people were shocked when they found out I was still swimming as I was preparing for the exams, but my mom knew I could balance the two so I continued swimming right through to the exam,” he recounted.
Every day the young swimmer goes to the pool in the early hours of the morning and puts in about an hour of water work before heading to school for the day. After the school day has ended, he returns to the pool in the afternoon for about two hours of swimming again before heading home to get his school work and studies done before bed and preparing to start the cycle again the next day. The hectic schedule of two training sessions and a full school day started for Noel at the around the age of eight when he started his swimming career at the national level.
Young Noel began his career as a national swimmer in 2013 when he made Guyana’s team to the annual Goodwill Swimming Championships in Barbados. The Goodwill Swimming Championships is a developmental meet where swimmers from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Barbados compete. The location of the meet is alternated each year, and each year the host is allowed to invite other counties to participate as they please. It is from this meet that swimmers then progress on to meets such as Carifta and international meets such as Junior World Games and even the Olympics. His 2013 debut in Barbados was a successful one as he struck gold in the 100m butterfly of that age category. As his time in the Guyana swimming arena has progressed he has continued to develop as an athlete, making a name for himself.
The Dolphin Swim Club member has a love for the 50m and 100m butterfly and the 50m breaststroke events. His love for the butterfly has resulted in his medals being mostly from those strokes at the Goodwill and GTU Inter-Schools Sports.
At this years’ edition of the GTU Inter School’s National Championships, he will be competing in the boys under 16 age category for North Georgetown (District 12) at the National Aquatic Centre.
In August of this year, the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA) hosted the Goodwill Games and the locals did exceptionally well as they swam to a third place finish out of seven teams. Noel did his part to contribute to the win. The youngster snatched a few medals in the 11-12 age group, both individually and in the team relay events. One of the more exceptional races for the Guyanese team at the Goodwill Championships was the 100m butterfly as there was a first and second place finish in favor of the host country.
Leon Seaton finished ahead of his competition with a time of 1.06.16 and Noel finished right after with a time of 1.10.43. He was also an important member of the relay team that fell just short of the gold as they were outswam by the Trinbagonians. It is his hope to make the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris to represent Guyana with the intention to win a medal. His goal for the year ahead is to continue representing Guyana at the Carifta Games and other meets he would be eligible to compete.
As most swimmers would testify, swimming is much more than a sport or something they just do, it is can also be used to calm the individual. When Noel was asked what swimming means to him he said…. “It is something that keeps me relaxed.” He elaborated by adding…“after a full day at school I look forward to the work out in the pool because as I enter the water I feel free. I feel like nothing else can bother me because it is just me and the water. I look forward to swimming because I have my friends around me and I always get to enjoy the pool.”
Noel is grateful for all the coaches he has worked with as he acknowledges all the work that has been put in for him to be at the position he is at currently. He took the time out to say thank them all.
“I have had the opportunity to work with most of the coaches and I just want to tell them thank you for all the work that they have done and in any way they helped me. Without their help and guidance I would not be at this level. My coach, Christopher McAdam pushes me to the max and I am grateful that he does what he can.