The ladies of the CARIFTA region have been pushing themselves to better standards in swimming and hence faster national records for their respective island nations. Daniella Van Den Berg of Aruba, Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Lani Cabrera of Barbados have been the leading lights for their nations in their respective disciplines.
At the Orlando Grand Prix held between March 3 to 5 Aruba’s distance standout Danielle Van Den Berg broke a national record on each day of competition. On day one she lowered her personal best and national record of 2:08.07 to 2:07.22. She had set the old record in 2014 at the Florida Gold Coast Senior championships. Day 2 saw her 400 metre freestyle national record lowered. Her performance of 4:24.79 done at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan Russia would be topped by her performance in Florida. Daniella would stop the clock in 4:24.20. She would not leave Orlando without taking out yet another of her national records. This time it would be the 800 metre freestyle record. She would stroke her way under the 9 minute mark again. This time she bettered her 2014 Youth Olympics time from the Nanjing China Games. The old mark was 8:59.38 but now stands at 8:58.09. Her performances are a testimony to the adage “hard work pays off”. She is currently training with Azura Aquatics in Florida where she has 10 pool sessions per week. Added to that heavy she also has 2 gym sessions and 2 dryland sessions.
Alia Atkinson continues to build on her great swimming legacy with her performance at the Southern Zone Sectionals in Plantation Florida. Swimming 10 events which ran from March 10 to 13 Alia won 5 Gold ,1 Silver and 1 Bronze medal. But it was not her speciality breaststroke events that the Jamaican national record fell but in the 100 metre backstroke. She lowered the record of 1:05.49 set by outgoing Dartmouth senior Kendese Nangle. Nangle had set the mark at the 2011 CCCAN championships in Puerto Rico. Atkinson would get close in the heats with 1:05.72 with a split time of 32.12. In the B final she went out in 31.56 and returned in 32.58 to become the first Jamaican under 1:05 with a 1:04.04 clocking. That performance also made her the holder of all the 100 metre records for Jamaica in an Olympic sized 50 metre pool. The other records are 100 metre butterfly 1:00.61 set Sectionals in 2015, 100 metre breaststroke 1:05.93 and the 100 metre freestyle at 56.06.
Lani Cabrera has represented Barbados with distinction in the mid to long distance freestyle events and her performance at Sectionals would be another testament to her effort. Swimming only the 200 metre freestyle she lowered her season best of 2:09.56 in the heats. She went out in 1:02.85 and stopped the clock in a new season best of 2:09.50.In the B final she would blast the first 100 metres in 1:01.29. Lani would stroke the last 100 metres in 1:04.33.Cabrera crushed her season best as well as her old national record of 2:06.38 to set a new Barbados record of 2:05.62.With that record swim Lani continues to be the top performer for her country as she holds the national records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metre freestyle events.