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Supporting Carib InterSchool Swim Meet

835_SwimManu & Neelam

~Helping keep Swim Meet alive for 12 years & counting~

Every year top swimmers from the various schools get a chance to compete to see who the best swimmers are in Carib Swim Team's (CST) Inter School Swim Meet.

From the inception, their efforts have been supported by major sponsor Caribbean Gems owners Manu and Neelam Budhrani. Thanks to the benevolence of the Budhranis, the Swim Meet has continued to be one of the highly-anticipated events among young swimmers each year.

Reflecting on how the sponsorship began, the Budhranis said their daughter Rikita began taking lessons at the CST in 2001/2002 and "really enjoyed it." Rikita encouraged her mother to also start taking lessons. "During that time, there were no swimming competitions (that we know of) and a CST management team member approached Neelam and talked to her about sponsoring the swim meet. I believe that's where it started and we agreed to sponsor a meet and the rest is history," said Manu.

The first sponsorship was in 2003, which makes this the twelfth year they are supporting the event.

In earlier years, the Budhranis' main contribution was the cost of the cups, medals, ribbons and other paraphernalia used at the Meets, such as T-shirts for judges, etc. In recent years, requests have been made for financial contributions, which Caribbean Gems obliged with. "More important than the monetary contribution is the personal satisfaction that we are doing something positive for our community. We definitely want to do what we can to enable the Swim Meets to continue."

"During my childhood years, the one thing I remember the most was going to the playground every afternoon after school and playing sports and other activities with my friends. Unfortunately, there are too few parks or playgrounds in St. Maarten, and when we saw the response the first year, we realised that this was an activity that the kids enjoyed. Continuing our sponsorship of the swim meet would allow the kids to get more involved in sports. Also, seeing the happy faces of the kids getting their medals and ribbons really sold us on the idea of continuing participation," Manu said.

This year, the Budhranis contributed to the purchase of a timing system used at the Swim Meet held on January 25. It allows judges to be more accurate in their timing of the Meet.

"The rest of the sponsorship was not much different from last year's Meet. We will continue sponsorship as long as the board of the CST is able to continue organising the events."

"If the children enjoy taking part in the swim meets, then there is a strong possibility that they will take a membership at the pool, and this then becomes an extra-curricular activity for many of the kids. I believe our participation in this competition has allowed us to create an excitement in the kids to participate and learn how to swim. It also teaches them the benefits of working together, so that their team wins in the relay race," the Budhranis said. "We would be happy to continue sponsoring the event, as long as our business activities allow us to do so (financially) and also as long as the board of the Carib Swim Team continues its endeavours in organising the events."

Established in 1983, Caribbean Gems started as a small store on Front Street (opposite Holland House Hotel) selling souvenirs, T-shirts and jewellery and has sharpened its expertise in jewellery and expanded further in this field over the years at its two locations on Front Street.

The next Swim Meet for elementary school pupils will be held this Sunday, February 22.

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