On Saturday February 25 Auburn Junior Breanna Roman joined the elite ranks of Jamaican women who have qualified for the prestigious NCAA Division I Swimming Championships. That list includes Olympians Janelle Atkinson the University of Florida 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 )Dawn Kane (nee Chuck) Brown University 2002, Alia Atkinson Texas A& M 2007,2008, 2009 and 2010).
The Computer Science Major sealed her place when she swam 59.99 (split 28.23) to win the 100 metre breaststroke at the 2017 University of Georgia Last Chance Meet which was held from February 25 to 26 in Athens Georgia.
Breanna’s improvement can be tracked be from her qualification for her first SEC (Southeastern Championships which were held from February 14-18 in Knoxville Tennessee. At that meet she lowered her personal best in the heats of the 100 yard breaststroke moving from 1:01.57 to 1:00.95 (split time 28.65) qualifying for the B final. She would lower that further in evening’s final as she touched the wall in 1:00.84 (split time 28.59) for 2nd place. It was also well under the NCAA B time of 1:02.49. Breanna would set a season best in the 50 yard freestyle in a time 23.66 for 47th . In the 20 yard breaststroke she was just off her season best when she stopped the clock in a time of 2:17.27 (split time 1:04.68) for 36th . When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her on the following Monday she spoke about her achievement. Roman first elaborated on training up to her the SEC (Southeastern) Championships and the 100 yard breaststroke
“Training for the 100 yard breaststroke went well. Warmup was exactly how I had done it all season and in training. I was happy with the execution in the 100 yard breaststroke but not with the time”.
When she spoke about the 200 yard breaststroke she revealed she actually had picked up an injury
“I actually got a groin injury which made it really difficult to kick. I did not have a great swim but I was pleased that I gave everything to try to help my team”.
The 2016 CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) 18 and over girls champions in the 100 metre described the time period leading up the Last Chance meet
“After SECS it was about taking care of the injury and putting the pain behind me to prove to everyone I could make it. I was not happy with my performances in my freshman and sophomore years and knew I could better”
In Athens Georgia she would lower her personal best yet again in the heats with a time of 1:00.45 (split time 28.45). That ranked her as the fastest swimmer heading in to the A final. She described to draftingthecaribbean how she felt in that final
“In the final I felt great for the first 50 yards (split time 28.23 and over half a second ahead of the field). I felt numb in the last 50 yards. I felt all the pain hit me in the last 10 yards but just kept thinking I need to throw my arms forwards and I have to do it”.
When she touched the wall she had registered her first sub minute swim in the event of 59.99 and beat the field by more than .50 of a second. Breanna is the 2nd fastest Jamaican female at the NCAA level in the event behind Olympian Alia Atkinson’s 59.43 from the 2009 NCAA Division I Championships in College Station Texas. They are also the only two women to have dipped below the 1 minute mark in the event
When Breanna was asked about the improvement in her performances in her junior year she offered this explanation
“After not qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016 I started to reevaluate my life and started to focus on what made me happy . I also put a more positive approach to what I did in life and applied that to my training. I did not just train hard greater self-belief”.
At the Last Chance meet she would also crush her 200 yard breaststroke time taking almost 4 seconds off her previous best to record a time of 2:12.73 (split time 1:03.78).That time was also significantly under the NCAA Division I B time of 2:15.99.
When the NCAA released their heats sheet for the Championships Roman was ranked 26th.The cut off time for qualification in the event was 1:00.34.
The NCAA Division I Women’s Championships will take place from March 15-18 at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana.