The University of the Virgin Islands swim team competed inits inaugural meet of the 2009 season on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Alberque Olympico Natatorium in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The highlight of the meet,according to Head Coach Kevin Tyrrell, was that members of the UVI team competed in their first-ever relay event. "We have worked for two years to field a relay at a LAI league competition," Tyrrell said. "The wait was worth it. All of ourswimmers performed admirably and we came away with a seventh-place finish. Themeet also market the first time that a swimmer from the St. Thomas portion ofthe UVI team competed in a meet. Tyrrell also said that all UVI swimmers setpersonal-best times at the meet.
UVI's relay team was composed of composed of Marcus Sydney, Kamal Russell, Barrett Goff and Joey Barnwell. They competed in the 800-meter freestyle relay. This is the longest relay event offered in college swimming. "I think it was impressive that our first ever relay was swum in the longest event possible. Our team challenged itself by swimming this relay and we are proud ofthe result," Tyrrell said. "The goal set by the swimmers was to finish in lessthan 11 minutes and they beat that time by 12 seconds."
Sanlin Robinson was the first St. Thomas campus swimmer to compete in a UVI swim meet in the LAI League. She swam the 50-meterbreaststroke event in 56 seconds. "Sanlin swam a smart race by increasing hertempo throughout the 50," the Tyrrell said. "It was great to have her come aboard and we hope more St. Thomas UVI students join the team."
The coach was also impressed with the performance of Marcus Sydney. "Marcus practices the most of any of our swimmers," Tyrrellsaid. "He's in the water six days a week for a minimum of an hour and a half each time and in addition, does weight lifting. His desire and focus are intense and they are making a big difference in how he is performing this year vs. last." Sydney's best event was his portion of the 800 freestyle relay where he cut six seconds off his best time. "I have a better understanding of how much Ihave to feel pain to go my best times," said Sydney. "Challenging myself in myraces is the most fun aspect of the UVI team.
Tyrrell also noted that swimmer Joey Barnwell's 50-meter breast stroke performance will probably qualify him for the LAI Championship swim meet in April. "His swim was great from the time he entered the water. We hope to have numerous qualifiers for the championships before the end of the regular season."
The Bucs next meet is Saturday, March 7 at Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico.