The CARIFTA region’s talented youngsters are currently displaying their skills at the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Hawaii. Two countries will represent the region at this meet, The Bahamas and Bermuda.
The Bahamas contingent includes sisters Albury and Lilly Higgs, N’nhyn Fernander, Gershwin Greene and Jared Fitzgerald. The team from Bermuda consists of Jesse Washington and Madelyn Moore.
The meet which also features teams from the United States of America, Japan, Canada and Australia has seen a number of competitors and meet record holders that have gone to perform well in senior waters. Those names include Rio 2016 Gold medallists Townley Haas and Simone Manuel.
On the first day of competition on Wednesday August 24 Fernander and Fitzgerald set personal bests.
In the 200 metre freestyle Jared dropped time by more than a second to stop the clock in 1:58.96 (split 57.57) and finish 26th.
Teammate Fernander lowered his personal best time by almost time by almost 2 seconds to register a time of 1:01.88 (split time 29.81) for 18th .
Lilly was 42nd in the 200 metre freestyle with a time of 2:12.12.Washington was 29th in the male equivalent in 2:02.67.His teammate Moore was 28th in the 100 metre backstroke in 1:09.23.
Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson returned to international competition after a less than satisfactory showing at the Rio Olympics. In an Instagram post the World record holder in the 100 metre breaststroke said
“Many thanks to my Jamaican people and world supporters. From the bottom of my heart, you have all lifted me higher than I thought I could be. I am moving on and upwards. Worlds Short Course, 2016, coming up, I will not disappoint, I promise”. Through her spokesperson Mr Tweedsmuir Atkinson she also expressed special appreciation to her sponsors Rainforest Seafoods, GKMS and National Bakery for all their efforts in supporting her swimming.
In her very first final of the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 series of the first stop in Paris being held in 25 metre pool she delivered by equaling her own world record. After cruising through the morning heats with a time of 1:04.89 she was seeded second in the final. There she was joined by the fastest from the morning American Katie Meili who had the top heats swim of 1:04.49. Also in the final was the dangerous Russian Yulia Efimova , American Breeja Larson and Japanese swimmer Rie Kaneto.
In the final she had the 2nd fastest reaction to the gun of 0.63 of a second. At that point it ended being a contest. She blasted through the first 50 metres with a split time of 29.33 more than half a second of a quality field. Her last 50 metres was almost 32 seconds as she split 33.03. Her final time and crushing win was 1:02.36 equalling her World record time done in Doha on December 6, 2014.Silver went to American Meili in 1:03.52 and the Bronze to Efimova in 1:04.14.
Buoyed her fantastic efforts she scratched the 50 metre backstroke final to provide a greater challenge for the Gold in the 200 metre individual medley. In the final she faced friend and World record holder “ The Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu. The national record holder in this event trailed in 6th place for the first 2 legs of butterfly and backstroke before she unleashed a 34.91 breaststroke leg before and found herself again in medal contention. She pushed on the freestyle to with a 30.34 split to hit the wall in 2:07.89 and win the Silver. That time just missed her national record of 2:07.30. The Gold was won by the Hosszu in a time of 2:06.64.
On Day 7 of the Olympic swimming programme Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace from the Bahamas and Mehdy Metella (French Guiana/France) established themselves as the best from the region in the 50 metre butterfly and 100 metre freestyle respectively.
In the heats of the 50 metre freestyle Arianna worked her way to the semi finals of the event with a quick 24.77 which placed her 13th overall. In the semi-finals she was a mere .09 of a second outside of the final when she registered a time of 24.60. That time stands as the fastest time ever done by a swimmer from the CARIFTA region. The previous fastest mark was also held by Vanderpool –Wallace when she swam 24.64 at the London 2012 Games.
Metella, who had the day before established himself as the fastest swimmer from the region in the 100 metre butterfly when he stopped the clock at 51.71 in the heats would be even faster in the final. He would turn at the 50 metre in 24.24 and come home in 27.34 to establish a new CARIFTA region best time of 51.58 and place 6th. He is the only sub 52 seconds swimmer the region has produced.
Allyson Ponson of Aruba became the fastest female swimmer for her country at the Games when she touched the pads in a time of 26.00 in the 50 metre freestyle for 45th overall. The previous best of 28.43 was recorded by Roshendra Vrolijk at the Athens 2004 Games.
Elinah Phillip .Photo courtesy of BVI news.com
Elinah Phillip of the British Virgin Islands lay down the marker for her country as she became the first person to compete in swimming at the Olympics. She had an effort of 26.26 in the 50 metre freestyle which placed her 48th .
Also creating history for her country was Bermuda’s Rebecca Heyliger who became the first female swimmer to compete in the 50 metre freestyle. She swam to a time of 26.54 to place 52nd overall.
Another swimmer setting new standards was Antigua and Barbuda’s Samantha Roberts. She became the fastest swimmer from her country regardless of gender at the Games when she clocked 27.95 in the heats of the 50 metre freestyle. The previous best was 30.01 registered by Karin O’Reilly Clashing at the London 2012 Games.
Jamila Sanmoogan of Guyana became the first female swimmer to compete in the 50 metre freestyle at the Olympics. She posted a time of 28.88 for 63rd overall.
The 6th day of swimming saw Mehdy Metella (French Guiana/France) becoming the fastest swimmer from the CARIFTA region with his heats swim in the 100 metre butterfly .Going out in 24.10 he came home in 27.61 to record a time of 51.71. That bettered the Gold medal winning time of 53.00 by Suriname’s Anthony Nesty done in 1988 Seoul Games. He would be just off that time in the semi-finals when he clocked 51.73 split time 24.17 to qualify for the final. He became the first swimmer to qualify for the 100 metre butterfly since Nesty accomplished that feat at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Renzo Tjon A Joe became the fastest swimmer from Suriname ever at the Olympics when he clocked a national record of 22.23. With his placing of 21st he also became the highest placed swimmer from his country in the event. Renzo was just 0 .13 of a second outside of qualification for the semi finals. The previous Olympic best was 23.74 by Enrico Linscheer who placed 33rd at the 199s Barcelona Games. Enrico was the youngest athlete for Suriname at the Games being 17 years 283 days.
George Bovell III of Trinidad and Tobago was 27th with a time of 22.30. George remains the fastest swimmer ever from the region in the race with times of 21.77 done at the London 2012 Games and the 2008 Beijing Games.
Jordan Augier became the fastest swimmer from St Lucia with his time of 23.28. His placing of 45th also makes him the highest placed male swimmer from that nation. The fastest time and ranking was held by Jamie Peterkin who was 59th in the 2000 Sydney Games with a time of 25.33.
In the 800 metre freestyle Joanna Evans became the 3rd fastest swimmer from the region at the Olympics. Evans stopped the clock in 8:42.93 (split time 4:15.93) to finish 23rd overall. The overall record is held by Coralie Balmy with her time of 8:27.15 done at the London 2012 Games. The fastest English speaking time is held by Jamaica’s Janelle Atkinson who clocked 8:34.51 at the Sydney Games.
Nikolas Sylvester became the fastest swimmer from St Vincent and the Grenadines when he clocked 25.64 for 61st in the 50 metre freestyle . He bettered the time of 26.27 done by Tolga Akcayli at the 2012 Games.
Guyana’s Hannibal Gaskin clocked 58.57 in the 100 metre butterfly for 42nd place. That tied the best placing at the Olympics by a Guyanese swimmer at the Games. In 2012 Britney Van Lange placed 42nd in the 100 metre freestyle.
The 5th day of competition saw CARIFTA region bests being recorded.
In the 800 metre freestyle relay heats Coralie Balmy (Martinique/France) started the relay with a split of 1:57.38 (splits 57.51 and 59.87). That was the 5th fastest split of the morning session. It bettered her CARIFTA region best of 1:58.83 set earlier during the Games. The French team finished 10th with a time of 7:55.55.
The US Virgin Islands Rexford Tullius became the first swimmer from his country to compete in the 200 metre backstroke when he placed 20th in 1:59.14.That performance is a CARIFTA region best for the event. The previous standard was held by a team mate of Tullius at the University of Florida, Brett Fraser of the Cayman Islands. Fraser had stopped the clock in 2:01.17 at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Sprint Queen Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of The Bahamas just missed a semi-final berth in the 100 metre freestyle when she clocked 54.56 (splits 26.11 and 28.45). She was mere 6 100ths outside of 16th place. Arianna however still retains her title as the fastest female swimmer in this event at the Olympics. This is courtesy of the 53.73 that she registered at the London 2012 Games.
The 4th day of swimming action saw Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter set a new national record in the 100 metre freestyle of 48.80. Swimming in heat 4 Carter had a reaction time of 0.64. He covered the first 50 metres in 23.49 before finishing with a second 50 of 25.31 to take the heat win. That performance placed at 23rd overall and bettered the national record of George Bovell III who had set the national standard of 48.83 at the 2008 Beijing Games. Dylan is also now the 2nd fastest swimmer from the English speaking CARIFTA region at the Olympic Games. The fastest time registered at the Games is 48.54 by the Cayman Islands Brett Fraser at the 2012 London Games. The fastest performance from the CARIFTA region was recorded by Mehdy Metella (French Guiana/France) with his opening leg split of 48.08 of the 400 metre freestyle relay final.
Lorys Bourelly (Martinique/France) had a 3rd leg split of 1:48.62 to help France to 14th overall. The team’s final overall time was 7:13.71.
Day 3 of the 2016 Rio Olympics saw the CARIFTA region represented in another final. It was the turn of Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson in the 100 metre breaststroke. The final would be Atkinson’s second consecutive final after making the top 8 at the London 2012 Games. Atkinson finished 8th in the final with a time of 1:08.10.With her qualification for the final she joins a select group of swimmers to make two or more individual Olympic finals. Malia Metella (French Guiana/France) 50 and 100 metre freestyle 2004 Games in Athens, Coralie Balmy (Martinique/France) 400 metre freestyle Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, Anthony Nesty (Suriname) 100 metre butterfly 1 Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and 200 metre butterfly Seoul 1988, George Bovell III Trinidad and Tobago 200 metre individual medley Athens 2004 and 50 metre freestyle London 2012. Atkinson is the first swimmer from Jamaica to make two Olympic finals for Jamaica.
In the 200 metre freestyle Balmy and Joanna Evans of The Bahamas raced to the top of the standings for the best ever female Olympic performances from the CARIFTA region. Balmy had splits of 58.37 and 1:00.46 for a total time of 1:58.83. She would place 23rd overall. That is the best ever Olympic performance ever by a woman from the CARIFTA region.
Evans had splits of 59.23 and 1:02.04 for a total time 2:01.27 for a final place of 36th .That performance bettered her national record of 2:01.62. That swim moved to her to the 2nd fastest of all time in the CARIFTA region and the fastest English speaking woman. She beat the English speaking CARIFTA region best of 2:04.06 set Jamaica’s Janelle Atkinson at the Sydney 2000 Games.