QUALIFYING for the CARIFTA Swimming Championships is a big step for 13-year-old swimmer Lian Winter, who had earlier this year gotten off to a bad start in her season clocking times way below her norm.The Dorado Speed Swim Club athlete says she just wasn’t feeling it for swimming, but now her eyes are set on doing her best to represent Guyana well at the CARIFTA Swimming Championships set for April 14-19 in the Bahamas.“I don’t know what happened during that time. I just wasn’t feeling like myself, but now I’m starting to get back there,” Winter said, as she reflected on how her year has been going so far.But now it’s all about putting on a good show and making her country and herself proud when she hits the pool in the Bahamas.“I will push myself hard, I really think I could medal at this meet, and even if I don’t medal, I’ll be happy knowing that I pushed myself as hard as I could,” Winter declared.Lian WinteWinter is one of three Guyanese swimmers who made qualifying times for the international CARIFTA meet, and one of only two who will be travelling, after one of the other swimmers had conflicting academic commitments.So the Guyana team this year will only comprise herself and national age group record holder Leon Seaton.Lian will be in six events at the meet: the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly, and the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke.Attending this meet will be the biggest thing for Winter since she first began swimming competitively back in 2011. Winter’s progress since then has been slow, but steady.She has so far represented Guyana at the regional Goodwill Swim Meet, and the Inter-Guiana Games (IGG). Her high point came last year December after scoring her first medal overseas, when she won bronze in the girls’ 11-12 200m butterfly of the ASATT Invitational.Making it into regional competition has been somewhat of a struggle for Winter, who admits that when she first started competing regionally she was totally bowled over by just how competitive things were outside of Guyana.“At first I was like, okay, I was doing so well in Guyana and I was thinking that this (competing) overseas, was just going to be as normal and fun, but then I got beaten by a lot of people. I felt normal, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard,” Winter related.But of course perseverance is the key, and Winter says she has too many persons supporting her and wanting her to succeed for her to just throw in the towel anytime soon.“When I don’t meet those goals, I just keep telling myself that there is always next time and I just have to keep pushing myself hard to get to those goals. Yea, there are times when my coach pushes me hard and I would feel like dropping out but everyone is expecting things from me so I have to push,” she says.