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MY LITTLE ATHLETE: Eyeing Kendi’s every stroke

Lisa King

MY LITTLE ATHLETE: Eyeing Kendi’s every stroke

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Every week they spend hours on the sidelines of the pool at the Aquatic Centre or in the stands watching their daughter while she trains.
Andrew Bynoe and his wife Denny Lewis-Bynoe are the parents of 11-year-old Kendi Bynoe, the holder of the national record in the 25-metre breaststroke in the 9 to 10 age group. She also won all the division championships for her age group in 2011.
The Bynoes are at the Aquatic Centre for training sessions four mornings and five evenings a week as Kendi trains for between an hour and an hour and a half for each session with Cuban coach Antonio Petrolando.
The Hill Top Preparatory School student, a member of the Alpha Sharks swim club for the past six years, holds the national long course and short course records in the 9 to 10 age group.
Recently at the Primary Inter-School Swimming Championships she set a new record in the 25-metre breaststroke, erasing a record that has stood for over 15 years.
At the Barbados Amateur Swimming Association Awards 2012 for the year 2011 she was voted the most valuable swimmer at the Goodwill Swim Meet and was also nominated for the National Sports Council Junior Sports Person Award 2011.
Her dad Andrew says that despite her feats in swimming, Kendi became better known for her running when she placed second in the Under-13 Girls’ 600 metres and third in the 400 metres at the recent National Primary Schools Athletic Championships (NAPSAC).
“She did so well at NAPSAC, and that is when we realized that potentially athletics is something she can consider, not just the swimming alone. She is developing a passion for athletics, and we don’t want her to decide as yet. She is young, and she has to see which will evolve into the better option for her,” Denny said.
For now the main focus is on her swimming. Kendi and her parents recently returned from the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in The Bahamas, where she participated in six events.
The Bynoes say a typical day starts at 4:15 a.m. and they reach home at about 7 o’clock in the evening, after which Kendi still has homework to complete.
However, they say they don’t mind the sacrifice as Kendi is committed to her swimming.
Andrew, who has also spent many hours chauffeuring Kendi to and from training, says it is easy because of her focus and her enjoyment of it.  
“The Aquatic Centre does not have heated pools . . . . In December and January it is cold, and we adults put on sweaters and jackets . . . . It must take a special person to get out of your warm bed and come down to the pool,” Andrew said.
“When it was very cold, I had to stay and watch her to keep her motivated because she was very cold and we had to start giving her honey. Because she is so lean she would shiver, so it was really hard on her. We had to do a lot of motivation because even though she is committed it is a very hard task,” Denny said.
Denny sees Kendi’s ability as a God-given gift because although she is a small swimmer she is able to beat those who are taller and have a longer reach.
The Bynoes say Kendi excels in both sports and academics and they have no worries about burnout.
“We don’t force her to come . . . but if there is a meet coming up we have to keep her motivated. She has to understand she has to put in the time and eat properly and stay committed. But if she decided tomorrow that she does not want to swim, that is it. It is up to her,” Denny said.