They didn’t win the overall title, but the hearts of Barbadians were more than enough.
Barbados’ “Yellow Caps” were second best to Guadeloupe in the medals table, but not in the eyes of their fervent fans, as the darlings of the pool became the talk of the town after taking a meet-best 21 golds at the just concluded LIME CARIFTA Swimming Championships.
Their French-speaking counterparts were the ones returning to Guadeloupe with the overall championship, though, having finished Tuesday’s final session at the Aquatic Centre leading both the medals (55) and points (736.50) standings.
However, the hosts’ 48 medals were good enough to leapfrog defending champs Trinidad to second in the table, while their 560 points put them fifth behind Jamaica (561), the Bahamas (610), Trinidad (679) and Guadeloupe.
It was the second year in as many championships that Barbados finished second overall with 48 medals, following last year’s near identical performance in Jamaica.
But the Yellow Caps did manage to improve on their 2010 gold medal count of 20, capturing seven in Tuesday’s session for a total of 21 after taking 13 medals overall on that final night.
And the tally looked as if it would’ve been more at the start of the proceedings when Barbados dominated the 400 freestyle series by medalling in the night’s first five races and getting six of the initial seven events.
The hosts actually won three of those events, with Sariyah Sherry once again opening Barbados’ account by taking the 11-12 Girls’ race in four minutes, 46.85 seconds.
That proved to be the first of two gold medals on the night for the fast-rising Sherry, who capped her 11-medal showing at her second CARIFTA Championships by winning the 200 backstroke (2:38.05).
It was the crowning moment of a four-gold medal effort that gave the 12-year-old a category-high 73 points.
None was better than that of Zabrina Holder’s, though.
The eventual 13-14 Girls’ champ romped to meet-bests of 12 golds (eight individual), 13 overall medals (nine individual) and 83 points after picking up another three victories for the fourth night in a row. This, after the swimmer had accounted for 12 medals at last year’s games.
Posting a time of 4:36.12, Holder began her night by winning the 400 freestyle ahead of third-placed teammate Amara Gibbs and went on to share the 50 freestyle title (28.12 seconds) with Trinidad’s Kristin Julien in the meet’s most enthralling race.
But her efforts weren’t finished there, as she led off the triumphant 200-metre freestyle team of Gibbs, Deandre Small and Sherry’s elder sister Inayah for Barbados’ final gold of the championships.
“I have a lot of supporters, so when they cheer me I feel a rush,” said Holder of performing in front of her home crowd.
Gibbs proved to be no slouch either, adding her third individual victory in the 200 backstroke (2:28.04) for seven gold medals overall and 12 medals in total.
“It was a lot of fun and I was proud of myself,” she said.
The elder Sherry (2:32.37) finished with the silver in that event.
Christian Selby finished a tough debut appearance in the 13-14 Boys’ category by winning the 400-metre freestyle (4:19.04), while Lani Cabrera (4:31.61) picked up a silver medal in the 15-17 Girls’ equivalent.
The younger Sherry added a second-place finish in the 50-metre freestyle, and both Alex Sobers and Lee-Ann Rose had bronze-medal performances in the 11-12 Boys’ 400 freestyle and the 15-17 Girls’ 200 backstroke respectively.
Barbados’ 21 golds were seven better than the next closest rival Martinique.