Quizmasters Mike and Sharon Burrill had patrons at the SushiBar puzzling over the height of the tallest Olympic diving board and who captained the HMS Bounty on Nov. 2, all for a charitable cause.
The BVI Barracudas Swim Team was slated to compete in a championship swim meet at St. Thomas over the weekend and needed help reaching its fundraising goal to make the trip happen.
Organisers said they were able to raise $1,095 from participants, which was in addition to the 10 percent of food sales donated by the restaurant.
Rebecca Nockolds, head instructor and head coach at the BVI Swim School, said at the fundraiser that she and her fellow coaches are extremely proud of how the team has grown in the past few years, especially since they started training for competitions in September of last year. She said one of the biggest hurdles is not having a standard training pool in which to practise.
“It means these kids are working even harder than in other countries around the world, because they’re training in the ocean or using pools that aren’t competition size,” she told attendees. “But they’re still going to meets, and they’re still getting medals, and we’re very, very proud of them.”
The money raised went toward covering the travel and accommodation costs for the swimmers over the multi-day event.
Ms. Nockolds, also known as Coach Rebecca, said this competition was particularly exciting considering the team is affiliated with the Virgin Islands Swimming Federation and gained official recognition and support from the federation for the meet.
The United States VI-based non-profit is the governing body promoting competitive swimming in the USVI and the host of last weekend’s championships.
A total of 16 Barracudas competed against the St. Thomas Swimming Association Stingrays and the St. Croix Dolphins.
The VI swimmers collectively took home 20 individual medals in a variety of races, dominating many of the backstroke and breaststroke categories while also taking home a few awards for freestyle, butterfly and individual medley. They also had top finishes in multiple relays.
Competing in the boys 8 years old and under category, Arun Bissoondutt secured three first-place titles: the 100-metre individual medley, 25-metre butterfly and 50-metre backstroke. He also took home second place for the 50- metre breaststroke.
The swim school also noted that several swimmers set new personal best times for the VI.
“These young BVI swimmers are proving to us that with hard work, anything is possible,” Ms. Nockolds said. “We now have swimmers competing in all strokes legally across all age groups, performing legal turns and starting from the blocks.” She thanked the community, friends, family and coaches for their ongoing support of growing the sport in the territory.
The team’s next big fundraising goal is to facilitate its participation in a meet at St. Croix next year, where the VI athletes will be tasked with swimming in a 50- metre Olympic-sized pool for the first time. Participating will also help pave the way to competing in larger events like those hosted by Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.