George Bovell, a name synonymous with Trinidadian swimming, recently enlisted the help of some elite friends in his quest to help inspire a younger generation of swimmers in his home region. Two-time Olympic bronze medalist for Russia, Arkady Vyatchanin (now most likely representing Serbia), Olympic gold medalist for South Africa Roland Schoeman, and World Champion New Zealander Moss Burmester joined the 2004-Olympic bronze medalist in the Caribbean for a series of free clinics using swimming as a platform to both benefit and excite young athletes.
The “George Bovell Dive In Free Swim Clinics 2015” were held at facilities in St. James, Macoya and San Fernando over January 15-17th, with the prestigious athletes teaching training methods, skills and drills with the purpose of not only encouraging the young attendees within the sport of swimming, but by also offering up hope and inspiration as they interacted and collaborated with the participants.
Bovell tells SwimSwam that, “the clinics were a huge success; you all can’t imagine what it meant to those kids. It’s an initiative that I try to put on every year to give back to and hopefully grow the sport here. It also serves to get the youth ‘thinking big’ and to help them understand that, through hard work, anything is possible.”
To that end, while in the midst of ramping up his own training en route to this year’s Pan American Games and World Championships, Bovell is monitoring the construction of the George Bovell Aquatic Center* taking shape in Couva, Trinidad (*name is not yet official). With the building’s completion targeted for June 2015, Bovell hopes the country can offer the facility to Olympic teams to use for their Rio 2016 staging camps, especially with Trinidad’s temperatures and time zone not far off Rio’s mark.
This vision falls directly in line with what Bovell describes as his short- and long-term mission for the sport of swimming in Trinidad and Tobago. “In the next five years, I would love to see Trinidad and Tobago hosting regional and international swimming events and have all schools offer learn-to-swim classes as part of their curriculum so that the number of unnecessary drowning deaths annually will be significantly reduced.”
Growing up in the 90’s and pushing through the age group ranks with what Bovell has previously described as limited knowledge, resources and opportunities, he now feels compelled to contribute to the overall improvement of swimming on all levels. Bovell feels confident that, “with access to world-class facilities, world-class Trinidad swimmers will become the norm and not the exception.”