NAIMA HAZELL LEADS ST LUCIAN MEDAL CHARGE AT CARIFTA WITH TWO SILVER MEDALS

11-12 breaststroke podium
11-12 breaststroke podium from left to right Silver medallist Naima Hazell St Lucia, Gold medallist Daley and Bronze medallist Anaika Charles Grenada Photo courtesy of Bermuda CARIFTA Swim Team 2018

In  2017 St Lucia’s Naima Hazell ended a more than decade long 11-12 50 metre breaststroke medal drought for her country when she won Bronze in the  50 metre breaststroke . The last time St Lucia was on the medal podium was through the efforts of Sara George when she took the Silver in 38.42 at the 2005 CARIFTA Championships in Curacao.She would keep the medal winning streak alive and match the quality of Sara’s  medal with a Silver medal winning and  a new age group record of 35.87.

11-12 50 metre girls freestyle podium
50 metre freestyle podium from left to right Hazell, Gold medallist Elan Daley of Bermuda and Bronze medallist Aliyah Heaven Photo courtesy of Sports of Jamaica

In the 50 metre freestyle she showed showed great improvement by moving from 18th in 2017 to winning another Silver in a time of 27.87 a new age group national record and not far off from the senior national record of 27.63.

Naima Hazell head shot
Naima Hazell Photo courtesy of Eddie Hazell

In 2017 Team St Lucia won four medals in The Bahamas Two Silver and Two Bronze medals. In Kingston they earned five medals Three Silver and Two Bronze medals,

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Naima she spoke to us about training before CARIFTA, if she knew what the senior record was before and gave us a description of her two medal winning efforts.

“My coaches started off with a plan which included morning training session and dryland session to compliment my afternoon training however we were faced with the a setback where the facility that we trained at had to be closed for about 1 month due to a leakage in the pool which had to be repaired. We used the beach and the Pool at a hotel for our training until we were able to return to the Aquatic Centre. Overall the training was difficult especially the early mornings however I knew it was necessary in order for me to be prepared especially since we do not have a 50m facility.  To be honest I was not aware of what the Senior National record was. My goal is always to perform better at every meet and to PB. I also had high hopes of medalling. I was focused for both of my races. I knew I had to work hard if I had any chance of medalling. My 50 M breaststroke, I went in with the aim of getting that goal medal, however I had a bad breakout and this cost me the gold medal, I had to work extremely hard to catch up with the other swimmers to capture the silver medal. For my 50 freestyle I believe I had a very good swim  and my execution was good. I kept my head down and did limited breathing until I touched that wall. My aim was to swim faster than the prelims.

In her plans for the rest of the year

The other major meets for this are as follow:

BASA Invitational in May

CCCAN  Swimming Championships in June

OECS swimming Championships in November

ASATT in December

 

My goals for the 50 M freestyle and 50 M Breaststroke  for the CCCAN championships is to PB and hopefully medal for my country and ASATT to work hard to break the existing records in both events.

Draftingthecaribbean also spoke to the President of the St Lucian Amateur Swimming Association Mr Eddie Hazell (who is her father) about her improvement since 2017

It’s a few things but namely it’s the added time in the pool, she is a bit more focused and with the added time she is building endurance and strength. The extra time In the pool makes the difference because now you could complete herworkout that we’ve been wanting to have. Before we work trying to fit that same workout in 1 hr and it just wasn’t feasible. But now we have the sufficient time so she could rest when needed and we’re able to get more meters in during the wk

He also commented on progress has been made in terms of the quality of the performances and new age group records what has accounted for the overall St Lucian progress and what  formal plans are in place to direct these talented athletes towards Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

Team St Lucia
Team St Lucia at CARIFTA 2018 Photo courtesy of Brian Charles

Since assuming office, my executive has taken a holistic approach towards the development of the sport.  Currently we are working on providing our locally based national swimmers with opportunities to train in a 50m facility in neighboring Martinique. We are hoping to do so on a fortnightly basis. This is in addition to them following their club regiment of training. We have recognized that our swimmers needed to be exposed to both types of facilities. A rigorous dry land programme can also be held accountable for their success and will be stepped up in the long run. Strengthening our institutional framework is allowing us to provide a better balance between our learn to swim and competitive programmes. Our International governing body has made funding available for some of our initiatives. This will be filtered down to both the club and national programmes. Pool time and costs of training are critical issues which we are engaging all stake holders to find the best possible solutions. The quality of our coaches is also being addressed by affording them the opportunity to upgrade their skills using FINA sponsored clinics. We are also in talks with our French counterparts to assist us in this regard. We will continue to engage all stakeholders in an effort to improve the swimming product coming out of St. Lucia.

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