The first day of the 2016 Easterns on February 19 at the La Salle University’s Kirk Natatorium in Philadelphia saw the CARIFTA region being a part of history. This as Bahamian Jared Fitzgerald and Jamaican Joseph Black were members of the Peddie School’s record breaking 200 yard freestyle relay.
Prior to the Championships the record in the event of 1:22.70 had been held by the 1992 Mercersburg Academy team. In the morning preliminaries the team had set the fastest time heading into the Championship final of 1:23.78.In the final they brought the heat to the final in pursuit for the win and the record. The team of lead leg Nathan Stern 21.07 2nd leg Michael Blank 19.89, Black 20.94 and Fitzgerald 20.71 blitzed the field to the to take the title and the record in a time of 1:22.61. Their margin of victory was over two and a half seconds.
Video of Final
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Black and Fitzgerald join St Lucia’s Josh Daniel and Jamaica’s Brad Hamilton as title holders in the 200 yard freestyle relay. Daniel was a part of the 2013 Peddie team that won the event in a time of 1:23.84.Josh who now attends Brown University had led off the team in 21.66. Hamilton (University of North Carolina) was a part of the 2007 Baylor team that won in 1:24.12. Brad had started the race for Baylor with a split of 21.62.Interestingly the overall high school record of 1:19.27 by the 2012 Bolles team included Trinidad and Tobago swimmer Emiro Goossen who attends the University of Florida.
In individual action Fitzgerald had finished 4th in the Championship final of the 200 yard freestyle in a time of 1:41.66. In the morning heats he had lowered his season and personal best of 1:42.73 to 1:40.76.Black worked his way to the B final of the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 21.76. That lowered his season and personal best time of 21.80. He finished 4th in the B final with a time of 21.80.
Also winning a medal of the opening day was their teammate Barbadian Sariyah Sherry. Her team lost a close battle to Mercersburg Academy who took the title in 1:35.74. The Peddie team of Nika Blank 23.86, Sherry 24.08, Erin Fago 25.05 and Vanessa Ruiz 22.90 pushed Mercersburg all the way with their total time of 1:35.89.The overall Prep school record is held by the 2012 Baylor team with a time of 1:31.18.That team included Bermudan Ashley Yearwood (Denison), Kimberlee John-Williams (Georgia) of Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamian Bria Devaux (Nebraska).
In the 200 yard freestyle Sherry lowered her season of best twice on the day. She moved it from 2:03.42 to 2:02.13 in the morning .In the C final she lowered it again to 2:01.60 to finish 2nd.
Her countrywoman Sian Longley who represents the Linsly School was a member of the team that won the C final in the 200 yard medley relay. Longley split 27.86 for the butterfly leg as they won in a time of 1:56.51. She was 24th in the 100 yard butterfly in 1:03.59.
Mercersburg’s Bahamian swimmer Tyler Russell helped his school to 2nd place in the 200 yard medley relay B final. Tyler clocked 27.18 on his backstroke leg to help them to a time of 1:40.36. Russell was faster in the morning heats having clocked 25.84 In the 200 yard individual medley he lowered his season and personal best time of 2:02.76 to 1:58.82 and make the B final. He would register yet another sub 2 minute swim when he set another new personal best time of 1:58.65 to finish 7th.
His countryman Alexander Encinar of Peddie swam as on their exhibition team in the 200 yard medley relay. He clocked 27.03 as the team posted a total time of 1:37.16.Encinar lowered his season best of 2:02.84 and his personal best of 2:01.53 in the morning heats of the 200 yard individual medley to 2:00.18. He would make the B final with that performance .In the final he would register his first sub 2 minute swim with a 1:59.52 and place 8th.
His countryman Miller Albury of Cantebury School helped his school to 5th in the B final of the 200 yard medley relay. Miller split 25.18 on the opening backstroke leg to help them to a total time of 1:45.05. The overall high school record for the 200 yard medley relay is held by the 2014 Baylor School at 1:27.74. That team included Bahamian Dustin Tynes (Ohio State) and Christian Selby (Auburn) of Barbados. In the 50 yard freestyle he lowered his season best of 23.39 to 22.47 to progress to the C final. In his evening swim he clocked 22.57 to finish 3rd.
Another Bahamian recording a personal best on the opening day was Peddie’s Peter Morley. He lowered his season and personal best of 2:05.55 in the 200 yard individual medley to finish 18th in 2:03.89.