|History not in the making for The Bahamas!|
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Jun 12, 2012
The time ran out on a historic attempt by four speedy young women from The Bahamas.
As it turned out, The Bahamas’ very own ‘A’ Team of Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Alana Dillette, Ariel Weech and Alicia Lightbourne, finished a little over five seconds short of qualifying for the London Olympic Games in the Women’s 4x100 meters (m) Free relay. The team finished in 21st place in FINA’s ranking chart during the Olympic qualifying period. The top 12 finishers from last year’s FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Championships automatically qualified for the Olympics, leaving four spots up for grabs. Those four spots went to Italy, New Zealand, Hungary and Greece. The deadline for relay teams to qualify was June 1, 2012.
“It’s a lil disappointing but really and truly, our girls started very late in the qualifying process. The fact of the matter is, we just have to get faster,” said Bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF) President Algernon Cargill. “The girls were unbelievable in the qualifying process and attempting to make history for The Bahamas and we’re very proud of them. They’re among the top teams on this side of the world and that is definitely something that is worthy of praise.”
The Bahamas actually finished as the top nation coming out of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) region, and the number four nation behind the United States, Canada and Brazil coming from this side of the world, the western hemisphere. At the Canadian Olympic Trials in Montreal in March, the team swam a new national record setting time of 3:47.42. The final Olympic qualifying time, turned in by Greece, was 3:42.09. Speaking from Auburn, Alabama yesterday, Alana Dillette said that she was very proud of what they were able to achieve collectively.
“Well of course, I’m a little disappointed that we will not be able to represent The Bahamas for the first time ever in a relay at the Olympics, but I’m not disappointed in the relay team’s performance. I am extremely proud of what the four of us have been able to accomplish, and the fact that we were able to come together and fight for something so big. We swam the relay on multiple occasions to ensure that we posted the fastest time we possibly could and that's all I could ask for from myself and from the other girls.”
Cargill said although the door might be closed on a relay team qualifying for these London Olympics, it remains open for future Olympic Games as the BSF national program continues to grow.
As for Dillette, she is expected home tomorrow in preparation for the RBC Swimming National Championships this weekend at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex. The four-day Olympic qualifying meet will get underway on Thursday evening and continue through Sunday. Individually, Dillette is looking to post an Olympic qualifying time in her specialty, the Women’s 100m Back. She has already attained an Olympic selection time but needs to post an Olympic qualifying time in order to ensure herself of a spot on The Bahamas’ Olympic team. Swimmers who attain Olympic selection times are not guaranteed places at the Olympic Games.
“This is the last chance for me to qualify individually so I’m looking forward to it,” said Dillette. “I am excited and looking to have a fun and relaxed meet where I will swim fast. Up to this point I have had many disappointments and setbacks in my swimming and I am ready to just let everything go this weekend and swim as fast as I can. If that means I qualify for London, then that’s great! If not, I know I will have given it my best shot and that's all I can ask for. I will be disappointed if I don't qualify, but at the end of the day I just want to swim a personal best time.”
Dillette’s personal best in the 100m Back is a national record time of 1:02.56. The Olympic selection time for the event is 1:02.95 and the Olympic qualifying time is 1:00.82. Dillette, along with Vanderpool-Wallace, Grand Bahamian Vereance Burrows and Jeremy Knowles, represented The Bahamas at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, China. So far, only Vanderpool-Wallace has outright qualified for these 2012 London Olympics. Dillette knows that she has her work cut out for her this time but is prepared for the challenge.
“At the end of the day, I would love to be in London, if only to support my teammate and good friend Arianna. That is another one of my motivations,” said Dillette. “My training has been going great. We had the whole relay team here a few weeks ago training with us, so that was good to have a bit of home in Auburn. I am feeling good in the water and specifically in my backstroke. Lionel, my coach will be coming to nationals with me as well, and it will be good to have him there.”
Dillette is coached by Lionel Moreau, a senior assistant coach for the Auburn aquatics team. The swimming portion of the 2012 London Olympics are scheduled to be held July 28 to August 4, at the London Aquatics Centre. The deadline for qualifying for individual events is Monday June 18.