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Tuesday, December 19, 2023
CANOC General Secretary Wants Increase in Olympics Swimming

In his continued pursuit of creating a level playing field in the Olympic movement, Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) Secretary General Brian Lewis is championing the cause for the expansion of the Olympic swimming programme to include 50-meter races for all disciplines.

The current programme only offers the 50m Freestyle for both Men and Women but Lewis while speaking with the Jamaica Gleaner has backed the cause for Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly to be offered at the distance mirroring the World Swimming Championships programme that has been in place. It has been a cause that World Aquatics (formerly FINA) and Pan American Swimming were aiming for according to Lewis but has been met with resistance.

“I see it as important from a diversity and inclusion perspective for Olympic and world championship swimming. But the IOC and Pan Am Sports have not budged even though World Aquatics and the Pan Am Swimming Association have been pushing for it,” Lewis told The Gleaner.

The expansion of the disciplines, Lewis says, has the potential to open opportunities for more Caribbean athletes to achieve success at the Olympic level following the achievements of regional swimmers at the recent World Swimming Short Course (25m pool) championship in Australia. Jordan Crooks of the Cayman Islands and Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago captured first and third, respectively, in the 50m freestyle as the Caribbean had a double podium finish.

“There are several issues that don’t create a level playing field. And I think that the absence of many of the 50m races is one of them. You had Jordan Crooks from the Cayman Islands and Dylan Carter from Trinidad, the first time in the history of World Aquatics that you had two Caribbean athletes, in this case, swimmers on a World Championship podium,” Lewis said. “And that was in a 50m Short Course. I know that not all of us can focus on every issue but there are issues within the global sports movement that reflect a lack of thought and mindset and thinking.”

Lewis says that the signs and potential are there, hoping that there is not only change in that aspect but in also the way that federations are represented for the Caribbean to benefit from other non-traditional sports.

“If you look at most of the decision-making and those at the table and senior management of most international federations, you will see a lack of diversity both in terms of black and other minorities and women,” Lewis said. “There is a lack of people in the media and sports in the Caribbean that don’t dig deep and don’t want to have the uncomfortable conversation to make it better, in our case the Caribbean athletes. We feel that we have track and field and that we do well in that. But what about the other sports?”
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