April 12, 2004 — Seven of the top swimmers in the Virgin Islands are off to the Bahamas this week to participate in the CARIFTA games. The competition is made up of athletes, between the ages of 13 and 19, from 18 Caribbean nations that are members of CARICOM (the Caribbean Community). Originally a track-and-field competition only, the CARIFTA games were expanded in 1985 to included six sports, swimming being one of them.
Whitney Carter-Heller, Morgan Locke, Ryan Nelthropp, Jamie Shufflebarger, Jemille Vialet, Branden Whitehurst, and Keri Whitehurst make up the group of swimmers representing the Virgin Islands at this year's games.
The seven swimmers range in international experience. For some, the CARIFTA games will be only their second national team competition, while senior swimmers Locke, Shufflebarger and Keri Whitehurst have been to many similar competitions in their swimming careers.
In fact, this will be the final time these three swimmers will be able to represent the Virgin Islands at the CARIFTA Games, given the competition's age limit.
According to Eric Hutchins, president of the V.I. Swimming Federation, all the V.I. swimmers have been working hard and have met strong qualifying standards to ensure that they will be competitive in this year's games.
In addition to being dedicated athletes, the group is also strong academically and works very hard to strike a balance between high-level competitive swimming and maintaining good grades in school. To learn more about each of these swimmers and the federation itself, please visit the organization's Web site.
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