Passages: Legendary Caribbean Swimming Coach Albert ‘Bert’ Bell, 75


Swimming coach Albert ‘Bert’ Bell, a titan of the Caribbean swimming community, died on Jan. 16. He was 75 years old.

Bell was at his home in Grand Bahama. He’s worked for decades tutoring many of the top Bahamian athletes, in cycling, swimming, triathlon and rugby. Those athletes include his sons, Dave and Andrew.

Bell was inducted to the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

A founding member of the Freeport Aquatics Club, Bell coached a number of swimmers who went on to compete internationally and helped launch the Learn to Swim program at Freeport’s YMCA.

“We are saddened by the death of our 2008 inductee Albert ‘Bert’ Bell. He was a dedicated educator and a committed athletic coach,” said Harold Williams, chairman of the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame. “We mourn his passing and we salute him. Bert Bell’s induction was related to his local, national, and world-class achievements as a swim coach. His contributions shaped swim champions and more importantly, he molded university graduates and everyday good model citizens. Bert Bell took pride in bringing out the best in young people and discipline was his trademark. He was a community giant and he will be missed.

“As we mourn his death, we find solace in knowing that the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame organization gave Bert Bell his deserved recognition while he was among the living. His great legacy will never die. We extend heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the wider sports community. May his soul rest in peace and a swimming pool greet him in heaven.”

Bell also worked as a teacher and coach for more than 25 years at Eight Mile Rock High School. A British national who moved to the Bahamas in 1972, Bell worked with a  number of sporting causes, including Special Olympics.

“It is truly a sad day for the Bahamas to have lost Coach Bert Bell,” Freeport YMCA Executive Driector Karen Pinder-Johnson said. “He put his all into it and as a result of that swimming has grown by leaps and bounds on GB.”