ANGEL FLIES TO NEW HIEGHTS WITH CALI CONDORS!MARTINEZ TAKES DOWN MEXICAN MARKS IN THE BUTTERFLY, FREESTYLE , BACKSTROKE AND MEDLEY EVENTS IN THE ISL

Mexican José Ángel Martínez ‘s very hard work paid off and earned him a berth at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo , Japan. He made his first Games and swam the 200 metre individual medley . Martínez put down the top ranked CCCAN time of 2:01.34 for 38th. Since then the national record holder in the event at 1:59.78 has turned his attention to the short course metre pool. Selected by the Cali Condors he has been burning through the records books at each match.

José Ángel Martínez

The record that Martínez has taken a particular liking to during the regular season in Naples Italy has been the 200 metre butterfly. The old national standard prior to the start of season 3 of the ISL belonged to Israel Duran at 1:54.95. He set that mark at the 2009 National Short Course Championships.

Israel Duran

Like Martínez Duran was a distinguished graduate of Texas A &M swim team. On Match 2 Ángel lowered that mark to 1:53.24 in placing 3rd overall. Match 4 saw him lowering to 1:52.75 in a sixth place effort. On Sep 12 he bettered it again in Match 6 with a fourth place finish of 1:52.17. Match 7 saw him just off that time with a swim of 1:52.33 for third.

Joshua Ilika . Photo courtesy of elsiglodetorreon

Not only did Ángel prove he is the best distance butterflier in the 25 metre pool he also proved that he is the best sprinter in the stroke over that course. The old record in the 100 of 51.89 jointly belonged to Olympian Joshua Ilika and Pablo Marmolejo set at National championships in 2001 and 2009 respectively. Martínez crushed that mark with a sixth place swim of 50.57

He would also take down the 50 metre butterfly standard held by Daniel Ramirez of 23.48. He lowered it twice with swims of 22.89 and 22.88 that helped to finish fourth and fifth on those match days.

Daniel Ramirez Photo courtesy of elsoldehermosillo.com

Two other marks held by Ramirez would also fall. The 100 metre backstroke at 53.15 set in 2013 was lowered to 53.09. Martínez recorded that time leading off the Condors medley relay . Another record set at the World Short championships by Ramirez in the 100 metre freestyle was relegated to history. Again he took the opportunity leading off the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay to put himself in the record books

Pablo Marmolejo. Photo courtesy of mediotiempo.com

Ángel add the short course national record to his long course record in the 200 metre individual medley. He destroyed the old 2009 mark held by Marmolejo of 1:58.54 with a swim of 1:54.87 to place third in Match 2 on August 9.

In eight days of competitive action in Naples Martínez has set nine national records. He also had his highest placings of first and second in the league in the men’s 4 x 100 medley relay and the mixed medley relay

Ángel in action for the Condors. Photo courtesy of the Cali Condors
Martinez in training in Italy

Martínez has claimed this year with great determination and all eyes will be on him to make even greater strides for himself, the Cali Condors and Mexico .

JO ON THE GO!BAHAMIAN EVANS SHATTERS PERSONAL BEST AGAIN IN THE 400 FREESTYLE AMONG THE ALL TIME ELITE PERFORMERS FROM THE CCCAN REGION

Everytime Joanna Evans has stepped up on the blocks in Naples Italy for season 3 of the International Swimming League she has taken down her personal best in the 400 metre freestyle in the short course metre pool . She has now entered the rarified air of the all time greats ever to swim the race from the CCCAN region

In Match 5 competing for her franchise she crushed her personal best and the fastest time by an English speaking with a fourth place swim of 4:02.12.

NIGHT OF CARIBBEAN EXCELLENCE

Janelle Atkinson at the 2001 CCCAN Championships Photo courtesy of swimjamaica.com

The old English speaking Caribbean best was set by a dominant Jamaican 19 year old Jamaican University of Florida student named Janelle Atkinson. She, then on November 29, 2001 at the US Open in clocked in first in 4:05.39. Left in her wake was the defending World Champion in the event American Lindsay Benko in 4:08.85 who was the runner up. Janelle’s time was also a meet record . It broke the time of 4:05.67 set Brooke Bennett, the reigning Olympic Champion at the time.It would be fastest time by a Commonwealth swimmer for 2001. Atkinson was coached by a Legend of the region Surinamese Gold medallist Anthony Nesty. She would also record the fastest 200 metre freestyle relay split of 1:59.15 leading off the 800 metre freestyle relay for the Florida Gators in a Silver medal winning performance Also on that night we saw Trinidad and Tobago’s 18 year old George Bovell III representing the Bolles School build his 200 individual medley to take the Silver in 2:00.02 and pressure 16 year Michael Phelps 1:59.07 all the way to the wall. Also making it to the final was 18 year old Damian Alleyne of Barbados who placed fourth in the 400 metre freestyle in 3:53.29.

Joanna Evans of the The Bahamas and DC Trident looking for more success in the 25 metre pool.Photo courtesy of DC Trident

Almost 20 years a 24 year old Evans is blazing a path of CCCAN and CARIFTA excellence. This seen by her rapid progression in the event

Based on her times only two women stand between her and the crown of undisputed Queen of the event from the CCCAN and CARIFTA region

Coralie Balmy Photo courtesy of Coralie Balmy

Hailing from Martinique Coralie Balmy represented France internationally. As a 22year old produced a time of 3:56.24 to win the event at the World Cup event in Germany on November 16 2008. That would just miss the then world record of country Laure Manaudou of 3:56.09. Laure is the older sister of Florent who competes in the ISL for Energy Standard. Balmy would back up her credentials as the best in the world by winning the European short course title in a time of 3:56.39. She did that less than a month later on Dec 13 in Rijeka, Croatia. She beat team mate , the late Camille Muffat who would would go on to win the Gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Balmy’s time personal record was the fastest time in the world for 2008 and ranks as the 10th fastest ever performer ever on the all time list. She held the 11-12 record for the 400 metre freestyle at 4:50.48 in Barbados in 2002 .In her final CARIFTA also in Barbados in 2002 she clocked 4:38.16 to win in the 13-14 age group. The record then was held by Janelle Atkinson at 4:34.18. Great examples seen by ladies who have gone from CARIFTA to record the best times in the world for their given events. Balmy , would win two European short course titles in the event and five French national titles over the course of her career.

Claudia Poll Photo courtesy of panamericanworld

The next best on the CCCAN all time performers list is the Costa Rican Claudia Poll. She set her national record and a then World record of 4:00.03 at the 1997 World Short Course Swimming Championships. The 24 year old dominated the field in Gothenburg Sweden on April 19,1997 to win by over 5 seconds. She defended her global title after posting 4:05.15 for the Gold in Rio, Brazil in 1995.

CCCAN WOMEN ALL TIME TOP PERFORMERS LIST

In the 200 metre freestyle she was seventh in a time of 1:56.63. Just off her personal best of 1:56.37.THe 4 x100 metre freestyle relay saw her anchoring her DC Trident team to fifth overall in a total time of 3:34.45.Her split on the final leg was 54.08

President of the Bahamas Aquatics Federation Algernon Cargill gave his thoughts on Joanna Evans

“We are very happy that Joanna Evans of The Bahamas is currently competing in the ISL. Joanna has committed her career post graduation from the University of Texas to swim competitively. Evans success was seen in the Tokyo Olympics where she swam in the 400 metre freestyle as well as the 200 metre freestyle. She narrowly missed the final in the 400 metres. Joanna shows what commitment and dedication can result in. Particularly because in her first year in the 11-12 age group she did not qualify for CARIFTA. But she committed herself to swimming and committed herself to getting faster and faster. She was the first Bahamian to swim in distance events in the Olympic Games. Her performance actually paves the way for other Caribbean swimmers to specialize in the distance events instead of the sprint events because we Caribbean people tend to favour the sprint events. Alex Sobers is doing the same thing in Barbados focusing on the distance events. Joanna also helps to promote competing in the distance events for the CCCAN region as well”.

ISL 2021 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S DYLAN CARTER CONTINUES TO GATHER SPEED!TAKES ANOTHER RELAY WIN AND RATTLES NATIONAL BUTTERFLY RECORD

The Lion from Trinidad and Tobago continues to get better as the season goes on in season 3 of the ISL (International Swimming League) contested in short course metres. This was seen in relay win the 4 x 100 metre freestyle for the London Roar and putting in his national record on notice in the 50 metre butterfly.

Victorious Lions from left to right Carter,Nakamura and Chalmers (photo courtesy of Nakamura Instagram @katsumi.221)

In the men’s 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay it was a star studded pride that won decisively and in the fastest time in the ISL this season. This event saw two changes from the team that swam in September with only Japanese Katsumi Nakamura and Carter retained . The quartet all came off good long course showings at the Olympics. Leading the team was Olympic Silver medallist in the 100 metre freestyle Australian Kyle Chalmers who punished the field by going 45.69. That gave the Lions a lead of over a second . Next up was Nakamura , the fastest man in Japan in the 100 freestyle at the Olympics , he put down a split of 46.31. Next up was Dylan, the fastest man from the CARIFTA and CCCAN region in Tokyo, he blazed a leg of 46.04 . Given the anchor leg duties was the European Junior Silver medallist in the 100 metre freestyle course ,Edward Mildred of Great Britain, he ensured the win with his split of 47.01. They put in in a total time of 3:05.05. That time is the fastest aggregate time for the season by over a second. The next best was put up by the Aqua Centurions on September 4 when they won in 3:06.08. How good was that third leg by Dylan? Only teammate Chalmers with his lead leg of 45.69 and defending World Short Course Champion and Olympic Champion in the 100 metre freestyle Caeleb Dressel have been faster. Dressel put down splits of 46.03 and 45.01 so far this season.

Dylan Carter. Photo courtesy of the London Roar

Another highlight for Carter on Match #6 held from September 11-12 was the 50 metre butterfly. Dylan registered yet another podium finish. This time he took second in 22.42.The win went to Hungarian Szebasztián Szabó , the European Champion in the long course version of the event in in 22.18 That time by Carter is not far off his national record of 22.38. This is an improvement from his 22.62 on Sep 3 when he had placed third. In the context of swimming from the CCCAN and CARIFTA regions it has to be noted that no one else has ever swum as fast. If he is on national record pace now the question is can he break the 22 seconds barrier for the World Championships in the Middle East.

He would put down a split of 50.26 to help one of the London Roar team finish 5th in 3:25.37 in the men’s 4 x 100 medley relay. In the 50 metre freestyle skins competition he had a time of 21.50 in the first round. The time is now to build a team around Carter heading into the World Short Course World Championships. Relays should be a fixture for the twin island Republic heading to the 2024 Paris Games.

BAHAMIAN JOANNA EVANS IS THE CCCAN AND CARIFTA REGION’S TOP RANKED SWIMMER AT THE TOKYO OYLMPICS,BREAKS NEW GROUND IN ISL DEBUT

Bahamian Joanna Evan’s star continues its ascendancy as the top ranked swimmer at the Tokyo Olympics for the CCCAN and CARIFTA regions and currently making waves as a member of the DC Tridents in International Swimming League.

Joanna Evans about to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics Photo courtesy of swimming world

She was given the honour of being the flag bearer for her nation The Bahamas .She has taken that role seriously and has carried the standards proudly not only for her nation but the region.

At the Tokyo Olympic Games Joanna Evans made a bigger impact that most may readily recognize .In the heats of the 400 metre freestyle she battled for the win in her heat before placing second in a time of 4:07.50. That gave her the impressive ranking of 13th . A position she maintained from the Rio Games but bettering the 4:07.60 she had put down. Her swim extends her reign as the fastest ever woman from the English speaking Caribbean at the Games in the event . Only Olympic medallist Coralie Balmy from Martinique who represented France is faster on the women’s Caribbean all time performers list at the Olympic Games with her swim of 4:03.40 from the heats in Rio.

The question is how impressive is that hard earned ranking in the 400 metre freestyle ? Well that swim made the highest placed woman from the CARIFTA and CCCAN region at the Games. But wait there is more, she was the second highest ranked swimmer overall from those regional blocs. Luis Martinez was the highest placed swimmer with his fantastic Olympic final swim that placed him 7th in a new national record of 51.09.

There would be more history in store for Evans and The Bahamas in the 200 metre freestyle.In the 200 metre freestyle there was a vastly improved performance from Joanna compared to Rio. She bettered her time and placing from 37th in 2:01.27 to 18th in 1:58.40. Not only was it the top performance in CARIFTA and CCCAN it was the best performance ever by a woman from the Caribbean at the Olympics. That bettered the time of Balmy in Rio of 1:58.83

MOVEMENT TO THE TOP

Not only was it the fastest performance by a Caribbean and CARIFTA region woman in the event it is the highest ranked performance since 1976. What happened at those Games ? A 21 year old superstar named Enith Brigitha from Curacao representing The Netherlands won the Bronze in a time of 2:01.40.

ALL TIME FEMALE PERFOMANCES BY CARIBBEAN AND CARIFTA REGION AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Joanna Evans .Photo courtesy of the DC Tridents

With those Olympic achievements added in bold on her swimming resume she has moved on to break ground in a new arena for The Bahamas.Joanna has become the first swimmer from the Bahamas to swim the in professional swimming franchise league , the ISL ( International Swimming League).The DC Trident wisely made the decision to add her to their ranks.

What has Evans done so far in a new format , short course metres to swim regularly.The saying “test and adjust” comes to mind readily. Looking at the first two matches she has competed in so far we can see why. She has tested the waters of Naples Italy where the regular season is being held and adjusted extremely quickly. The Bahamas does not recognize short course metres as yet but Joanna has again moved to the very top with her swims.

In the 200 metre freestyle for the English speaking Caribbean Janelle Atkinson reigned supreme with her 2001 swim of 1:59.45. On August 27 and September 5 Evans moved that mark to new territory with swims of 1:56.63 and 1:56.37 respectively each time getting faster.

The same would be true for the 400 metre freestyle as seen by the time drops below

Atkinson’s English speaking standard of almost two decades ago stood at 4:05.39.The 400 metre freestyle race was extra special as it represented the first podium position for a Bahamian at the ISL. She earned third behind her teammate Australian Leah Neale in 4;02.98 who tied another Australian Madi Wilson of the LA Current.

Even her relay performances in the 400 metre freestyle relays has shown her getting comfortable with the format. In a 5th place format in August she anchored in 54.41 to 3:35.24. In September she shifted gears to a final leg of 53.87 for a total DC Trident of 3:33.28.

With this form The Bahamas will have a lot to cheer about on the road to Paris 2024.

MR CARTER’S TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SUMMER OF ACHIEVEMENT, WORLD JUNIORS, OLYMPICS AND INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE

On August 31 the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago celebrated 59 years of Independence. A proud nation which has much to celebrate in its aquatic accomplishments . One who has added tremendously to that legacy is one Mr. Dylan Carter.

Dylan Carter at the 2013 CARIFTA swimming championships Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

TAKING OFF IN DUBAI

The 30th of August marked the eighth anniversary of Mr. Carter’s Silver medal winning performance in the 50 metre butterfly at the 2013 World Junior Championships.It also marked his first Global podium placing. At those Championships he powered his way to 23.98 , just behind Australian Cameron Jones 23.96. That butterfly blast in Dubai remains the best CARIFTA and CCCAN performance at those Global Championships to date.

Dylan Carter Photo courtesy off ttoc.org

MOVING UP THE ALL TIME OLYMPIC PERFORMERS LIST

His versatility and skill was on display again on the Asian continent. He continued to lead the Republic and the Caribbean. In the 100 metre backstroke Dylan clocked a time of 54.82. That was the best time for the CARIFTA region and CCCAN. It was not just the best time for the Caribbean but the best English speaking performance ever at the Olympics. He eclipsed the time of 55.22 set by his countryman, the legendary George Bovell III at the London 2012 Games.

He was again the leader for those regional groups in the 100 metre freestyle. He put together a time of 48.66.How good is that in terms of all time regional markers? It is the second best. Only another great Brett Fraser is faster with his 2012 blast of 48.54.His 100 metre freestyle race saw him with the the highest ranked performance amongst all CARIFTA region male swimmers with a placement of 22nd.

Mr.Carter would set yet another national record in his career taking down the 100 metre butterfly standard.Dylan swam to time of 52.36 . That bettered his old mark of 52.64 set in 2019.The swim is the fastest English speaking performance bettering the 53.08 set by regional icon Shaune Fraser of the Cayman Islands.He also surpassed another legend Surinamese Anthony Nesty;s 1988 Olympic Gold medal swim of53.00 to move to second all time on the Caribbean performers list of swimmers at the Games. The best from the region is French Guiana’s Mehdy Metella who recorded 51.32 in Tokyo.

Dylan competed in four events at this Summer Olympic Games, the most for swimmers from the CARIFTA region. His last event, the 50 metre freestyle saw him punching the clock in 22.46. That was the joint top position. He tied with Brett Fraser of the Cayman Islands.The swim ranks both men as the fourth fastest Caribbean performers at the highest level of the sport

NameCountryTimeGames
George Bovell IIITrinidad and Tobago21.772008 and 2012
Renzo Tjon a JoeSuriname22.332016
Ricardo BusquestsPuerto Rico22.422000

NEW ISL SEASON AS A LION

The new season of the International Swim League i which is contested in short course metres is here. What was once the dynamic duo of Jamaican Alia Atkinson and Carter in the franchise tournament has now become the Fantastic Four. Carter has moved on to the London Roar with Atkinson and they are joined the World Junior record holder in the 50 metre freestyle Kenzo Simons from Suriname now representing the Netherlands . Kenzo makes his ISL debut along with freestyle queen Joanna Evans of the Bahamas , who represents the DC Tridents.

The regular season which will is being held in Naples saw Carter with his best 50 freestyle debut of 21.46. That placed him fourth overall in the race and is ranked as his fourth best lifetime performance.

The 50 metre butterfly , an event which Dylan is the reigning Bronze medallist from the World Championships recorded his fastest time at the ISL with a swim of 22.62. That placed him third and the best placed swimmer from the London Roar.It is also the fourth fastest time of his Career. The race was won by 41 year old Brazilian soldier Nicholas Santos of Team Iron in 22.18 with Briton Ben Proud of Energy Standard taking second in 22.43.

In the skins elimination format he clocked 22.75 but did not progress. He made his a fantastic contribution in the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay as he clocked 46.37. That third leg split was the joint fastest of all relay legs. It was also the fastest split Carter has ever recorded. His previous best had been recorded 46.51 to help his former team , the LA Current to a win and his first podium win in Match 5 of last season in October 2020. His 2021 effort helped the London Roar to second place in a time of 3:07.62. The Gold went the New York Breakers in 3:07.02.

With this start in the ISL the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider CARIFTA and CCCAN regions will be have a lot to look forward with the World Short Course Championships to be held Abu Dhabi this December from the 15th-20th.

LOWE HELPS HANSLE TO NEW HEIGHTS, SWIMMING HELPS PARCHMENT THROUGH THE OLYMPIC FIRE TO BECOME GOLDEN AND THE MOST DECORATED CARIBBEAN SPRINT HURDLER

Holloway andParchment .Photo courtesy of worldathletics

On August 4 the finalists for the final of the men’s 110 metre hurdles were determined after the heats and semifinals. The overwhelming favourite was 2019 World Champion Grant Holloway of the United States. He came to the Japanese capital undefeated and having rattled the world record of 12.80 with a time of 12.81. As they say medals are determined on the field of play and not on paper . After the starter’s gun went off and all the hurdles cleared the winner was Jamaican Hansle Parchment in a season best of 13.04. Silver went to a very gracious Holloway in 13.09 and the Bronze to another Jamaican Ronald Levy. Parchment became the most decorated sprint hurdler in Jamaican and Caribbean history as he added to his Bronze that he won at the 2012 London Games.He matches the feat of Cuban Anier Garcia Gold at the 2000 Sydney Games and Bronze at the 2004 Athens Games. The accolade is fitting for Parchment and coach Fitz Coleman.

Coach Lowe and National standout Britney Williams

What draftingthecaribbean detail is how swimming assisted in this great honour. The pool became a part of Parchment’s weaponry to battle for Gold through the skills of former national swimmer and coach Lynval Lowe. The head coach of Swimaz spoke to us shortly after Parchment’s Golden moment to explain his role in sporting history.

Hansle Parchment at the pool (Photo courtesy of teamparchy

“When he (Hansle ) came to the pool he let me know that he had to do some work because he had an injury. The first time I saw him at the pool he was swimming by himself. He saw me coaching some adults and he approached me and said he would like to swim more and learn to do the strokes properly.So by taking on that tasks and teaching him the strokes in a few weeks he was able to master the techniques.He was really excited and then got all the equipment a regular swimmer would get.The kickboard, mesh bag, pull buoy , fins ,etc. Those are the things that our competitive swimmers would use to learn to swim properly.He comes to the pool in the morning. We worked on his breathing.I told him that would be good for his race .He is a good student he does everything I instruct him to do. He tries to perfect everything he is taught and that is why he is such a quick learner in learning all the strokes properly.Not saying that when he came to me that he could not swim but he did not have the proper technique.When yu looked at his mindset to the Olympics he was thinking about Trials first and being careful with his injury and taking it step by step in order to reach the Olympic Games.Working with him and seeing his mentality I knew he would have gone to Trials and made the Olympic Team.I am very proud of him. Let me tell you something because all persons around the pool saw me working with him when he won the Gold everybody called my phone saying did you watch the race and that Parchment won the Gold in the 110 hurdles. So I turned on the tv because when I came home I fell asleep because of the summer camp that I have. I was very excited for Hansle and watched the race over and over again and I am very happy that he won that Gold. Many persons are saying Coach you are a part of that I would not say so but I am glad I was able to help him work in the pool while he was working on that injury”.

Lowe with national record holders Breanna Roman l and Emily MacDonald R

Lowe, who has been involved in aquatics for more than 4 decades and coached a number of the best swimmers the islands has produced who have set numerous national records can be very proud of his input. His work has helped Team Jamaica and by extension the Caribbean produce one of the best moments in Olympic sporting history.

ELINAH PHILLIP IS THE FASTEST WOMAN FOR THE CARIFTA AND CCCAN REGION AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS,DETAILS HER PATH TO THE GAMES

Elinah at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Elinah Phillip of the British Virgin Islands resilience and determination has paid great dividends. In 2016 she became the first swimmer for her nation to be named to the Olympic team. This year for the Tokyo Olympic Games she became the first non-track and field athlete to be named as a flag bearer. That honour would precede another accolade she would earn in the pool.

On July 30th she took to the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre to compete in the 50 metre freestyle. Elinah gave her very best and recorded a new personal best and national record of 25.74 to place second in heat 6.What may have missed some is that time positioned her as not only as the fastest woman in the CARIFTA region at the Games but also as the best from the CCCAN territories. Her speed has also moved to the fifth fastest performer from the Caribbean at the pinnacle of the sport.From the CARIFTA region those who are above her in terms of all time top performers can only be described as Legends and all Olympic finalists. Icons such as Leah Martindale who made the first final, Vanderpool-Wallace who recorded the fastest time in 2016 and the Great Malia Metella who took the Silver in 2004

NameCountry TimeGames
Arianna Vanderpool-WallaceThe Bahamas24.60Rio 2016
Malia Metella French Guiana/ France24.89Athens 2004/Beijing 2008
Vanessa GarciaPuerto Rico24.94Rio 2016
Leah MartindaleBarbados25.49Atlanta 1996

If one thinks of all the names who have swum this event and being able to manage the emotions of this significant life milestone speaks volumes of Phillip, her support team and the journey she took to the Japanese capital. We have seen the time and rightfully noted Elinah’s place in regional aquatic history now Draftingthecaribbean spoke to her as she chronicled her path amongst the elite in Asia.

“My Olympic experience is something I’m still processing to be honest. The road to get there wasn’t easy and I managed to stay positive and become absorbed in my daily training. Becoming absorbed in what I do was considerably easier once I transferred to Florida International University (FIU). The energy, environment and people here are incredible which leaves me with nothing but classes and training to focus my attention and energy on. Being in Tokyo with my coach, Brien Moffitt was incredible to say the least. I definitely give myself and Brien a lot of credit for getting me there because had you asked me in January 2021 if I thought I’d be in good shape and swim a best time at the Olympics in Tokyo, I definitely would have said, I don’t even think I’m going to be in Tokyo. Since being at FIU from January 2021, I’ve improved faster than I could have ever imagine. I think back to how my best time was 26.1 long course and now 25.7. With 7 months of training at FIU after being retired and out of the water for 8 months prior to coming, to drop this much time makes me speechless when I think about it. 
I am forever grateful for our head coach Randy Horner, assistant coach Brien Moffitt, our performance sports psychologist Jason Kostrna, our athletic trainer during the 2021 season Leeza Jimenez, our volunteer coach Scott Griffith, of course my team, our Strength and conditioning coaches at FIU especially Luke Yanke who all played an key role in preparing me and getting me to the best version of myself. I hope this highlights the magnitude of the brilliant team we have around us here at FIU, I feel like me just saying it almost doesn’t do it justice, it’s just something you have to feel and experience. 
But all in all, as difficult as the road to Tokyo was, I wouldn’t change anything because it made me who I am today. I’m stronger, more resilient and more confident than ever before, I’ve grown, I’ve learned and still have much more growing and learning to do. Being in Tokyo was an exhilarating feeling and so rewarding. My Tokyo experience has fired me up and makes me excited for my the future!”

JILLIAN THE JET!! CROOKS POWERS HER WAY TO NEW CAYMAN SENIOR NATIONAL RECORD AND UNOFFICIAL 13-14 CARIFTA REGIONAL BEST IN THE 100 METRE FREESTYLE

Jillian Crooks of the Cayman Islands is used to being a trailblazer for her nation and her entry in the the 100 metre freestyle was yet another milestone. No Cayman Islands woman had ever raced this event at the highest level and Crooks would TAKE on that challenge.

The day was Wednesday July 28, the venue the Tokyo Aquatic Centre the challenge set before her washer own National record and personal best of 58.08. The question to be answered is how would the Olympic debutante handle the pressure. The answer would be with poise and grace.

After the first 50 metres it was a two woman race . Jenjila Srisa-Ard of Thailiand 27.20 and Mia Blazhevska Eminova of Northern Macedonia 27.24 pushed the early pace. After the turn Jillian entered the chat. Turning on the jets she outsplit the field with a last lap of 29.73. She pushed the field and early leader Mia to a time of 57.19. Crooks stopped the clock in second with a new PB, NR of 57.32. The first Cayman Islands woman under the 58 seconds barrier. JenJira placed third in a time of 57.42.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Under regional CARIFTA rules Jillian is considered to be in the 13-14 category. When that is considered we look at her times compared to the all time best of the region and existing age group records. The CARIFTA and CCCAN records are held by the Jamaican duo of Sabrina Lyn (2018) 57.89 and Emily MacDonald 57.95. The best produced from the Caribbean is by regional and international Olympic finalist Jamaica’s Janelle Atkinson of 57.54 way back in 1997.Jillian has also hit the automatic qualifying mark for the PAN AMERICAN Junior Games to be held later this year. The A standard she bettered is 57.41.

When she spoke about the race she said it was unreal and that she thought about her dad in the final few metres of the race as he was the one that taught her how to swim.

Jillian also gave her overall impression of her swim

“I am proud of how I swam my race. I focused on distance per stroke, strong catch and good under waters. I spent a couple of weeks before this race with Coach Bailey (Weathers )working on those areas”

Jillian Crooks.Photo courtesy of deepblueimages.shoot proof.com

Jillian’s swim represents only the third performance by a lady from the Cayman Islands. Crooks represents a cadre of extremely talented female swimmers .Their talent speaks to what the 345 can achieve in less than four years in Paris 2024. Talent identification, nurturing, exposure to tough competition consistently and in Europe we can speak about the team of ladies from Cayman. As the Canadian women have shown, have the development plan for the swimmers and let them soar at the pinnacle of aquatic competition.

MASSIVE BREASTSTROKE NATIONAL RECORD FOR GRAND’PIERRE!!EMILIE WINS OLYMPIC HEAT RACE AS TEAM HAITI’S SWIMMING CONTINUES TO PROGRESS

In a year filled with uncertainty and doubt a seemingly unshakeable constant has been the improvement in the quality of Team Haiti’s swimming. On Sunday July 25 another milestone was achieved through the performance of Emilie Grand’Pierre.

She would perform on swimming’s biggest stage in the 100 metre breaststroke. That would be a first for Team Haiti at this the highest level. And she approached the race as was one expected from a swimmer from the French speaking nation with fearless determination and great pride. Swimming in Heat 1 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre it was a close battle Jayla Pina of Cape Verde 34.18, Darya Semyonova of Turkmenistan 34.22 and Grand’Pierre 34.22 for the early honours. After a great turn Emilie changed gears. That was the beginning of the end for her rivals and the movement towards a famous Olympic heat win for Team Haiti. Her greater speed endurance allowed her to pull away decisively with the fastest last 50 of 40.49, more than a second better than the field. That enabled her to take the victory in 1:14.82 , massive new personal best and national record. That crushed her old national standard of 1:17.04 set at the 2019 PAN AMERICAN Games in Lima Peru. Semyonova was second in 1:16.37 and Pina third in 1:16.96

COMPARISON OF NATIONAL RECORD SWIMS

100 metre breaststrokeOlympics 2020PAN AM Games
First 5034.3335.82
Second 5040.4941.22
Total Time1:14.821:17.04
Emilie Grand’Pierre.Photo courtesy of Team Haiti

Draftingthecaribbean got the opportunity to speak to Emilie for her analysis of her Olympic feat

“It’s an honor just to wear the Haitian flag and to do on the biggest stage in swimming is still so surreal. I think I am still riding the wave of excitement from that race. But really, I came here wanting to stay calm and focus on enjoying this unique experience—it’s been such a great time and the energy is so high and overwhelming. When I stepped behind the blocks, I just wanted to do what I practiced. I’ve been training hard back in Atlanta, Georgia with my club coach Tommy Jackson, so I just wanted to trust my training. I’m really happy with my swim and excited to keep swimming fast for the meets to come”.

Team Haiti from left to right Coach Stacy Blitsch, Davidson Vincent and Emilie Grand’Pierre.Photo courtesy of Team Haiti

It cannot not be over emphasized about the ever improving quality of Haitian swimming. Emilie’s swim is a major leap forward for a programme increasing in strength and depth representing a nation and a region very proud of their efforts.

200 METRE FREESTYLE RECORD BY ALEX SOBERS OF BARBADOS RANKS HIM AS SECOND FASTEST CARIBBEAN PERFORMER OF ALL TIME AT THE OLYMPICS

When Alex Sobers took to the pool on July 25 all his efforts were concentrated on putting in a performance that would make his country Barbados and by extension the region proud. Cognizant of his legacy and powered by great level of national pride Sobers again broke new ground with a new personal best and national record in the 200 metre freestyle.

Alex Sobers.Photo courtesy of the Barbados Olympic Committee

Before coming to the Asian continent Sobers boasted a national mark of 1:48.35. The time would not survive. Competing in heat 2 Sobers pushed himself to sixth in the heat and 29th overall in a new national record of 1:48.09.

COMPARISON OF NATIONAL RECORD SWIMS

First 50 25.9026.14
Second 5026.9627.59
Third 5027.5727.51
Fourth 5027.6627.11
Total Time1:48.091:48.35

What the time alone does not tell you is the impact on all time Olympic Caribbean performances. Prior to Tokyo the best performance from Barbados was almost 21 years ago when another regional aquatic icon Damian Alleyne touched the pads in 1:52.75. Sobers has made a massive time improvement upon that mark. But wait that’s not all. Alex now stands tall among the very best performers from the Caribbean regardless of language. Alex is now the second fastest performer of all time from the region in this event.

GamesNameCountryTime
2012Brett FraserCayman Islands1:47.01
2021Alex SobersBarbados1:48.09
2012Shaune  FraserCayman Islands1:48.53
2021Mikel SchreudersAruba1:49.43
2008George Bovell IIITrinidad and Tobago1:49.48
Alex Sobers

Barbados has much to be proud of in the efforts of Alex Sobers at these Games. His spirit in taking on the world’s best at their best has propelled him to raise the bar for his nation and leave a widening impressive aquatic footprint not just in the region but in the world.