Guyanese swimmers to engage in pre-Olympic camp
Swimmers Andrew Fowler and Aleka Persaud, who are set to represent Guyana at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this month, will soon embark on a pre-Olympic training camp, facilitated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in partnership with the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA).
The camp runs from July 13-23 and will be held in Tokyo, Japan; it will incorporate programmes coordinated by the world governing body, FINA, and the IOC.
Persaud and Coach Shyka Gonsalves will link up with Fowler, who is based in Florida, as they head off for the clinic.
President of the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA), Dwayne Scott, in an interview with News Room Sport, outlined his expectation of the two swimmers, who gained Universality spots to the Olympic Games, set for July 23 to August 8.
“Thus far we have seen continuous improvements in the times of Aleka. Usually the Olympic pools are the fastest pools; I’m expecting to see Aleka put up her best time ever. Andrew has been under the training of a FINA Coach at the Azura Centre in Florida, and I’m also expecting Andrew will give us perhaps his best time. So I’m not expecting anything less. I expect our athletes to put on their best show and represent us well,” Scott commented.
Persaud for Sanmoogan
Initially, GASA had announced Jamila Sanmoogan as Guyana’s female swimmer to the Games. However, Sanmoogan was later replaced by Persaud, a decision Scott indicated was forced by the ruling of FINA and not the local association.
“No excuses, I think we all understand what it was. It’s an unfortunate situation. We were not thrilled about the decision that we had to make, but at the end of day we had to comply with FINA’s ruling,” Scott stated.
“The Universality position is done by FINA based on the athletes that have the highest FINA points. The FINA points are acquired by times you put out at different FINA meets. We had submitted Jamila Sanmoogan. The first criteria for the Olympic participation includes the World Championship.”
Up to that point, Sanmoogan and Fowler were frontrunners for the Universality spots, however, the situation changed thereafter following the advent of COVID-19.
“FINA then revised that to say because of the pandemic and the absence of the World Championship, it would be prudent that they have these fastest recorded athletes nationally to be the athlete that is issued the Universality slot. Now this is a ruling that FINA made, not Guyana.”
According to Scott, that ruling was subsequently communicated to the IOC and the GOA.
“The time that we have recorded for Jamila was at the 2019 World Championship and the time we had also recorded for Aleka at her fastest at that time was at the Junior Carifta Games, which is also a FINA endorsed event in 2019. It doesn’t change the fact that both swimmers saw their best time; and on that note they requested that change,” Scott explained.
“Subsequent to that Aleka went out and put out even faster times, which is to her credit. Jamila would have had an opportunity in Florida, but she did not even match her time that she swam in 2019, which was unfortunate.”