The 117th Annual Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships held from Feb 24 to 25 had strong participation from the CARIFTA region age group swimmers. Strong Jamaican male representation was seen through the performances of Joseph Black from the Peddie School and Christian Alberga of Phillips Academy (Andover).
Joseph Black led the medal charge with 3 Gold medals. In the very first race of the Championships, the Falcons lowered a 25 year old meet record in the preliminaries of the 200 yard medley relay. The team of Michael Blank backstroke 22.77, Black breaststroke 25.21, Noah Houskeeper butterfly 21.91 and Nathan Stern freestyle 20.21 posted a time of 1:30.27. That bettered the time set by Mercersburg Academy in 1992 of 1:31.10.That 1992 Mercersburg team of all seniors had the following splits Zasha Robles backstroke 22.98, Mike Kidd breaststroke 25.54, Brian Craft 22.29 and Greg Gipson freestyle 20.29. The Falcons would take the title in the Championship final in a time again under the 1992 mark as they had a total effort of 1:30.53.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Black he elaborated on the mindset of the 200 yard medley relay team
“We knew we had a clean shot at breaking the 200 medley relay record. We had this same line up with Michael on back, me on the breast, Noah on the fly and Nathan on free from the start of the season so we were comfortable with one another. We had done a trial after workout one day during taper where we put on tech suits and did a time trial and we clocked 1:31. This boosted all of our confidence levels. All we needed to do now was execute a clean race. The atmosphere of the loud crowd along with our teammates on the deck cheering their guts outs pumped the relay team up even more and allowed us to full fill our goal, and break the 200 yard medley relay record”.
The Falcons would break yet another Championship and school record in the 200 yard freestyle relay. In 2016 Peddie had set the standard for the event in the final at 1:22.61.That would again be lowered in the 2017 final. The team of Nathan Stern 20.75, Michael Blank 20.32, Trey Ike 20.61 and Black 20.31 set a new record of 1:21.99. Joseph was more than half a second better than last year when he split 20.94.His morning heats split of 20.28 was the 3rd fastest recorded on the day
In the 400 yard freestyle relay Peddie recorded the fastest time at Easterns since 2013 when another Peddie team that included St Lucian Joshua Daniel posted a school record of 2:59.98.The 2017 squad of Stern 44.74, Blank 45.97, Black 45.37 and Houskeeper recorded a total effort of 3:01.47.Joseph recorded his best split at Easterns in the relay in the morning when he was timed at 44.91.His best split last year was 46.28.
In the 100 yard freestyle Championship final Black finished 6th in a time of 46.00.He was faster in the morning heats posting a time 45.88 (split time 21.73).In 2016 his best time at the competition was 46.96.
His countryman Christian Alberga would also work his way on the podium. In the Championship final of the 200 yard medley relay the Andover team of Jack Warden backstroke 24.04, Neil Simpson breaststroke 25.46, Arnold Su butterfly 22.40 and Alberga 20.80 won the Silver in a time of 1:32.70. That team effort was the 2nd fastest performance in school history. Christian’s freestyle split was the 3rd fastest of the 3 finals contested.
His Andover team would again make another Championship final this time in the 200 yard freestyle relay. They registered a time of 1:25.32 for 5th overall and were just off the school record of 1:25.30. That record set in 2016 had Christian doing anchor leg duties. The 2017 team Alberga’s split of 20.76 was the 3rd fastest of the 3 finals contested.
In the individual 50 yard freestyle the Williams commit posted 21.49 to make the championship final .He would finish 8th in the afternoon in a time of 22.09.Alberga would finish 3rd in the B final of the 100 yard freestyle in a time of 47.58 (split time 22.79).
The boys Championship title was won by Peddie who scored 554 points. Phillips Academy (Andover) was 2nd with 504 points