Feature
CARIFTA Games Swimming Championship Gold Medallist, Leanna Wainwright (centre), displays her Mayor’s Special Award for Sport at the St. James Municipal Corporation Independence Uniform Parade, Flag-Raising and Civic Ceremony, which was held in Sam Sharpe Square, on Tuesday (August 6). Sharing in the moment are her parents, Jason Wainwright and Mrs. Janecia Welds-Wainwright.
Photo: Serena Grant

Story Highlights

  • On Independence Day (August 6), when typical teenagers were enjoying social outings or time at home with family, 13-year-old Leanna Wainwright was accepting the Mayor’s Special Award for Sport, for her outstanding performance in swimming, from the Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis.
  • The award was presented during the St. James Municipal Corporation Independence Uniform Parade, Flag-Raising and Civic Ceremony, which was held in Sam Sharpe Square.
  • Leanna told JIS News that “receiving the award was amazing,” and she felt honoured to be among the other awardees.

On Independence Day (August 6), when typical teenagers were enjoying social outings or time at home with family, 13-year-old Leanna Wainwright was accepting the Mayor’s Special Award for Sport, for her outstanding performance in swimming, from the Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis.

The award was presented during the St. James Municipal Corporation Independence Uniform Parade, Flag-Raising and Civic Ceremony, which was held in Sam Sharpe Square.

Leanna told JIS News that “receiving the award was amazing,” and she felt honoured to be among the other awardees.

Leanna, who started swimming competitively at age six, has always had a love for water.

The swimming prodigy attends the Montego Bay High School for Girls, and is a member of the Sailfish Swim Academy in the parish. She has won quite a few medals in her short career.

In April of this year, Leanna participated in her first-ever international meet, the CARIFTA Swimming Championship in Barbados, where she represented Jamaica. She participated in the girls’ 11-12 age group in four individual events, and was a part of three relay teams.

The young swimmer copped two gold medals in the individual 100-metre and 200-metre backstrokes races, respectively, as well as a bronze medal in the 50-metre backstroke. Leanna also placed fifth in the 200-metre individual medley and earned a gold medal as part of the island’s 400-metre medley relay team, which set a new National and CARIFTA Championship record.

Leanna also got a silver medal in the four by 50-metre freestyle relay and finished fourth in the four by 100-metre freestyle relay.

“The medals I got from CARIFTA stand out to me the most, because it was my first-ever international meet. It just means a lot to me that I could get medals at my first (international) meet , and they include gold medals,” Leanna told JIS News.

The young athlete also took part in the island’s Western Invitational Swim event this year, where she was awarded the champion girl title, and as if that was not enough, Leanna also broke records in all five of the events in which she participated.

Leanna also won the recent Blue Marlin Swim Club’s one-mile Open Water event in the 12-15 age group.

Mother of Leanna, Janecia Welds-Wainwright, is brimming with pride at her daughter’s achievements.

“I am so happy that she was invited as a Mayor’s Special awardee and to see her accept the award is just priceless. I am so proud of her,” Mrs. Welds-Wainwright told JIS News.

“I try my best to encourage her to do her best, both academically and in extracurricular activities, because I think they are both equally important,” she added.

Mrs. Welds-Wainwright said she hopes her daughter maintains her interest in the sport as she gets older, as the swimming fraternity in Montego Bay is a small one.

“We are hoping that more people will join and increase that community, so that persons will stay in the sport,” she said.

For his part, Leanna’s father, Jason Wainwright, told JIS News that while he is very proud of his daughter, her achievements come as no surprise to their family as she works very hard.

“I don’t think most people realise it, but swimming is a very intensive sport, it requires a lot. Her awards so far I am very proud of them. I am not surprised, she is a very dedicated person; she does what she does every day without complaint, she trains twice per day, so I think it is only fitting for her to be where she is (right now), because she is putting in the work,” he said.

The young athlete, who is aiming to compete in the Olympic Games in a few years, told JIS News that she looks up to prominent figures in the sport, such as fellow country- woman, Alia Atkinson as well as Singaporean Olympic gold medallist, Joseph Schooling.

“I look up to them because they train hard and they know the competition that they are up against,” Leanna said.