Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of Jamaica Olympics

The final day of the ARENA PRO SWIM SERIES AT CHARLOTTE on Sunday saw Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson winning another medal in a breaststroke event. Bahamian national record holders Joanna Evans and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace recorded season bests under Olympic B standard time to have top 8 finishes.

Alia Atkinson renewed her rivalry with Indiana Aquatics Lilly King and SwimMAC Carolina’s Katie Meili in a breaststroke event. This time the showdown would occur in the 50 metre breaststroke. In the morning heats it would be Meili who would strike first posting a time of 30.64 to be the number one seed. She would be flanked by King and Atkinson in the final who posted times of 30.78 and 31.33 respectively. The championship final would be the battle of the sub 31 second swimmers. In the end it would be King who would take the breaststroke sprint double with the win 30.35 breaking Atkinson’s pool record of 30.54.Meili won Silver in 30.42. Atkinson won the Bronze in 30.77.

Joanna Evans
Joanna Evans Photo courtesy of

The CARIFTA region’s best distance swimmer Joanna Evans continues to round into form as the season continues. She posted a season best of 8:44.06 to finish 6th overall. She bettered her time of 8:48.63 posted at the ARENA stop in Arizona. Joanna has improved each of the 5 times she has contested this event this season. The freshman from the University of Texas yet again bettered the Olympic B standard of 8:51.96.

AVW auburn tigers
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of

Her national team mate Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was faster than the Olympic B standard of 56.34 in both the heats and championship final of the 100 metre freestyle. In the morning she posted a time of 54.74. Arianna was just off that time in the final when she stopped the clock in 54.92 for 6th place.

The next wave of breaststroke talent Alexandria Donahue and Laura Morley earned second swims in the 50 metre event as well. Donahue representing Brown Aquatics recorded a time of 33.34 to make the B final. In that race she finished 8th in a time of 33.97. Morley of Indiana Swim team was timed at 34.66 in the morning. Laura would better that in the evening to place 2nd in the C final in a time of 34.41.

Aruban national record holder  Jordy Groters would better his season best of 28.91 in the men’s 50 metre breaststroke in the morning to post a time of 28.89. He would be the 12th fastest in the preliminaries but did not contest the B final. He would swim breaststroke in the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke hitting the wall in 1:04.20 .That was faster than the 1:05.30 he did in the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke.

Atkinson swam the heats of the 100 metre freestyle and recorded a time of 59.33.

In the men’s event Justin Plaschka of Irish Aquatics posted a time of 51.59. He was less than second off the Olympic B standard of 50.70. In the D final in the evening Justin clocked 53.03 to place 7th. Trinidad and Tobago’s Caryle Blondell was 38th in the event in a time of 51.83.


Justin Plaschka ACC 2
Justin Plaschka Diving off the blocks

The third day of action at the 2016 ARENA PRO SWIM SERIES AT CHARLOTTE  on Saturday May 14 saw yet another CARIFTA national mark being lowered. This time it was the Jamaican national senior mark in the 50 metre butterfly that was lowered. Justin Plaschka who held the mark of 24.89 prior to this meet when he won the Gold medal at the 2015 CCCAN championships on June 27 in Barbados. That record would not last beyond the morning heats as he stopped the clock in a time of 24.84. He would crush the record in the B final in the evening when he placed second in a time of 24.46 .Justin is the only Jamaican swimmer to swim under 25 seconds in this event.


Justin Plaschka
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

He would also be the fastest CARIFTA region swimmer at the meet in the 50 metre freestyle. In the morning heats he would record a time of 23.66 just off his season best of 23.52.That time who would earn him a spot in the D final. Joining him in that final would be Trinidad and Tobago’s former University of Louisville standout Caryle Blondell who posted a time of 23.54. In the final Plaschka would be the victor winning the race in a time of 23.30.The 19 year old Irish Aquatics swimmer already boasts an Olympic B time in this event having swum 22.90 in a time trial at the Phillips 66 in San Antonio Texas in August 2015 bettering the B standard of 23.05. Blondell repeated his morning performance with yet another 23.54 clocking .That propelled him to 5th in the race. Blondell has a season best of 23.02 recorded in February of this year.


Roy Burch (SwimMac Carolina) , the fastest sprinter ever from Bermuda continued on the road to full fitness when he swam the 3rd fastest time of his season of 23.85 to place 36th overall. Jordan Augier (Sharks Swim Club) ,St Lucia’s national record holder opened his long course season with a 24.15 to place 47th overall.

The meet which will not see the swimmers in peak condition as the main focus remains the Rio Olympics Games. Swimmers will continue to be doing heavy weight training and intense conditioning and using these competitions to gauge different aspects of training.

Arianna V-W underwater shot -swimoutlet
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of

Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (SwimMac Carolina) had her first start in the 50 metre butterfly in the morning when she posted a time of 27.09 to make the championship final .She finished 5th in  the evening in a time of 26.49. She had won the title previously in 2015 in 25.93 and in 2014 in 26.28.

Jamaican national record holder in the 50 metre butterfly Alia Atkinson put in a 27.92 performance in the morning to make the B final in the event. She lowered that significantly to hit the pads in 27.17 for 2nd in the race. Atkinson had put a 2:36.26 to earn a second swim in the 200 metre breaststroke but scratched .Laura Morley who has the fastest recorded time for the Bahamas in the event worked for a second swim in the evening when she clocked 2:37.37 to make the final. She would win that race in the evening in 2:36.00 not far off her Bahamas best of 2:35.03.

Aruban national record holder in the 200 metre breaststroke Jordy Groters was 34th 2:29.59.




Alia Atkinson
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of Aurelien Menuuier/Getty Images Europe

Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson (SoFlo Aquatics) was the best placed CARIFTA region swimmer on day 2 of the ARENA Pro Swim Series meet at Charlotte on Friday May 13. Atkinson who recently completed a training camp in Arizona is using the meet to work out race strategy heading into Rio. After making the final of her best event the, the 100 metre breaststroke with an easy swim of 1:08.10 she would face yet another quality field in the evening. The Championship field included rising star Lilly King and PAN American Gold medallist Katie Meili and Rio bound Canadians Rachel Nicol and Kierra Smith.


The final after the first 50 boiled down to the three Lilly, Atkinson and Meili. With the last 15 metres King pulled away for the victory in 1:05.73, Meili the Silver 1:06.54 and Atkinson the bronze 1:07.81, yet again under the Rio Olympics A standard of 1:07.85. Alia improved her position and time from 2015 where she placed 4th in With less than 100 days to go before the start of the Rio Olympics Atkinson is still in preparation mode for the biggest stage of her aquatic career.



The next wave of CARIFTA region talent continued to make their presence felt as they vie for to make the Olympic team headed to Brazil.

Alexandria Donahue
Alexandria Donahue Photo courtesy of

In the D final of the women’s breaststroke Trinidad and Tobago’s Alexandria Donahue (Brown University) and Bahamian Laura Morley (Indiana Aquatics) battled to 2nd and 3rd respectively. Donahue clocked a season best time of 1:12.25. . Morley, who is the fastest Bahamian woman in this event at 1:11.83, was just off that effort with a swim of 1:12.67.



Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of

Joining Alia in the making a championship final was Bahamian sprint queen Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (SwimMac Carolina). The national record holder in the sprint butterfly events improved on her season best time of 1:00.58 when she clocked 59.79 in the morning heats. In the final she did not break the minute barrier again but was able to post her 2nd fastest time of the season when she clocked 1:00.14 for 8th place. Both swims were easily under the Olympic B time of 1:00.80.


Justin Plaschka ACC 1
Justin Plaschka

Jamaica’s national record holder in the 100 metre butterfly Justin Plaschka (Irish Aquatics) got his long course season underway by making the C final in that event .In the morning he posted a time of 55.72. In the evening he clocked 55.17 to tie Nathan Lile of Garden –Webb University for victory in that final. That was just of his national record of 54.71 and less than a second off the Olympic B standard of 54.19. Justin is the owner of the 5 fastest times ever done by a Jamaican in the event.


National record holder from Aruba, Jordy Groters also earned an evening swim with his 100 breaststroke heats swim of 1:05.30. He was marginally outside that time when he stopped the clock in 1:05.57.

Groters clocked 59.82 for 48th in the 100 metre butterfly. National record holder Alia Atkinson was 36th in the same event in 1:02.70


The performances of Emily MacDonald and the Y Speedos 13-14 boys medley relay team highlighted the Tornadoes Invitational meet which ran from April 15-17 at the National Stadium.

emily Tornadoes

Emily MacDonald who recently won the 11-12 girls 50 metre freestyle event at the CARIFTA Games in Martinique in a national record time of 28.15 continued her with her winning ways in local waters. On the final day of competition she became the first Jamaican 11-12 girl to record a sub 28 second performance of 27.84 seconds .She crushed the meet standard of 29.05 It also doubled as the fastest time of the meet bettering times done in the 13-14 and 15 and over age groups. Regionally Emily’s time is faster than the national records of Bahamas, Barbados, Aruba and Bermuda. Also in the recently released all -time best 100 performances done by American 11-12 girls Emily’s time would rank just outside the best as the 100th time is 27.72.The Swimaz Aquatics club conditioned athlete had lowered the national record of Olympian Alia Atkinson of 28.23 in en route to CARIFTA Gold. She would complete the freestyle sprint double in record time as she stroked her way to 1:02.99 under the record of 1:03.33

Y Speedos 13-14 boys 200 medley national age group record record holders
From left to right 13-14 200 medley national age group record holders Chester Adams (freestyle) ,Cameron Brown (breatstroke) ,Jordane Payne (butterfly) and Kyle Sinclair (backstroke).

The Y Speedos 13-14 boy’s team registered the other national record when they broke the 200 medley relay record. The team of Kyle Sinclair, Cameron Brown, Jordane Payne and Chester Adams stopped the clock in a time of 2:02.86. That bettered the previous national standard of 2:03.36 set more than 20 years ago on May 19,1991 .The team on that occasion was Daniel Ricketts, Lauren King, Stephen Briggs and Julian McIntosh.

In the 200 individual medley Adams would lower the meet record from  2:34.41 to 2:27.18.Teammate Kyle Sinclair would break the meet record in the 200 metre backstroke of 2:35.67 when he hit the pads in a time of 2:33.38.Payne would lower the 200 metre butterfly record of 2:30.14 with a 2:25.85 performance.

Britney Williams
Britney Williams Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe

Other record breakers at the meet included Swimaz Aquatics Britney Williams who set 3 meet records. Competing in the 13-14 age group Williams swam 2:38.63 breaking the backstroke record of 2:41.37. In the 200 metre freestyle where she is the reigning CARIFTA Silver medallist she bettered the mark of 2:17.47 to post a time of 2:14.89. In the longest event of the meet, the 800 metre freestyle she crushed the record of 10:41.22 to touch the wall in 10:11.32.


Another triple record breaker was Naomi Eaton who swam unattached .She had victories in the 200 metre individual medley, 200 metre breaststroke and 100 metre breaststroke in meet record times of 2:42.35, 3:06.35 and 1:24.14 respectively.

Karlene Francis and Karci Gibson
Karlene Francis mother of Karci Gibson Karci Gibson Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe

The records in the girl’s 13-14 age group continued to take a beating through the efforts of Marlins Swim Club’s Karci Gibson. Gibson took 6 seconds off the record in the 400 metre medley to register a time of 5:50.60.


The Y Speedos Rajiv Redhi would lower the 400 metre individual medley record in the 11-12 boys age group to 5:52.51.

Christanya Shirley national record holder in 8 and under 50 metre butterfly
Christanya Shirley national record holder in 8 and under 50 metre butterfly Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe

The Marlins Swim club would be responsible for all the records in the 8 and under age group. Jayden Campbell broke the 100 metre freestyle record in the boys category with a swim of 1:25.24. His teammate Christanya Shirley set 3 meet records. Her standard breaking swims were in the 100 metre freestyle 1:22.41, 50 metre butterfly 40.59 and 50 metre freestyle 35.23.

The host club retained the trophy with 2,211 points. Placing second was the Y Speedos Swim Club with 1,648.50 finishing third was the Marlins Swim Club with 624 points.


Flying Fish Swim Club
Flying Fish Swim Club Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe
Blue Marlins Swim Club
Blue Marlins Swim Club Photo courtesy of Marlins Swim Club
Y Speedos Swim Club
Y Speedos Swim Club Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe
Marlins Swim Club
Marlins Swim Club Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe
Kerrie and Adrian
From left to right Tornadoes Swim Club coach Kerrie -Ann Steer and swimmer Adrian Grant ,winner of the 13-14 boys 100 metre freestyle Photo courtesy of Lynval Lowe