Bermuda trio to face world’s best
Bermuda's swimmers are preparing to take on the world's best at the Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, starting on Friday.
Fresh off the back of an impressive medal-laden display at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Bridgetown, Barbados, Bermuda's team of Jesse Washington, Maddy Moore and Elan Daley will be aiming to make splash at the prestigious event.
Despite the recent success, Ben Smith, the Bermuda swim coach, was quick to temper expectations before the World Championships, choosing to reflect on the importance of the experience for the swimmer's future progression.
“The World Championships is all about the experience and learning from that great experience,” Smith said.
“They will be getting in the pool with the best swimmers in the world, Olympic medallists, and so the first time you do that it can be very daunting.
“It's all about getting over that initial step and being better equipped for the next time they're in a big event.
“It is a huge step up, there's no hiding away from that but it's about how you deal with that. Some will step up and raise their game, while others might will be overawed, but it is something they have to go through to develop.
“The level of competition will be on another level compared to the Carifta Games or the Central American and Caribbean Championships, where we won medals. The hope is that they take that experience and then it motivates them going forward to keep reaching those levels.
“The Olympic Games is the big dream for of our swimmers since they were little and so having the opportunity to compete at senior events like the World Championships is just one of the steps towards realising their ultimate dreams.
“Having to travel to South Korea for the World Championships is a tall order, but because we're in the year before the Olympic Games it is imperative to get them ready as best we can.”
As well as building towards the ultimate dream of the Olympics, the World Championships will also serve as vital preparation for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, starting on July 26. While the trio were originally named as Bermuda's swimming contingent, 14-year-old Daley has now withdrawn from the squad, leaving just Moore and Washington as the island's representatives.
And while Smith conceded not having Daley involved is a blow, he revealed the decision was made jointly between family and coaches, quashing any fears of Daley's commitment to representing Bermuda, with past interest in her services from Canada, where she lives.
“Elan was in our original pool to go but can't attend, which is a shame, but she has other things on her schedule that are better suited to her development right now,” Smith added.
“She is only 14 years old and so we are trying to help her develop in the right way, it's about protecting her in a way.
“It's all about allowing to develop in the best opportunities rather than just throwing her into every championship.
“She's really developing strongly and so to have the chance to compete in a senior games like the World Championships will be better for her long-term improvement.
“I can assure everyone Elan is committed to representing Bermuda, that has never been a major for me.
“The decision not to go the Pan Am Games came from a discussion with her parents and her coach in Canada. It's a case of timing; she has other competitions and obligations with her team so that's the reason.
“She'll be going to the World Championships wearing the Bermuda flag so for me there's no worries about how she feels towards representing Bermuda.”
Reflecting on expectations at the Pan Am Games, Smith believes progression past the initial round of heats would represent success for Moore and Washington.
“Some of the competition will be the same as they faced at the Central American and Caribbean Championships, where Maddy won a number of medals, but then you have to add in nations like the United States, who are incredibly strong,” Smith said.
“If they can progress through their first heats, that would be a success.”