On Saturday August 5 at the 2017 Futures Championships in Nashville Tennessee while representing the Pine Crest Swim Team Nicholas Vale became the fastest age group 400 metre freestyler Jamaica has ever produced when he clocked a time of 4:10.52.

D Walter  Cis courtesy of Tedra Bolger-Daoussis
Dominic Walter Photo courtesy of Tedra Bolger-Daoussis

That performance by Vale lowered the 15-17 boys’ record of 4:11.31 held by distance standout Dominic Walter when he competed at the 2010 CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) in Cuba.

Nicholas lowered his personal best of 4:15.57 that doubles as the 13-14 national record that he set at the 2016 CISC in the Bahamas. He now holds five individual national records

Age Group Event Time
11-12 1500 metre freestyle 18:50.18
11-12 400 metre individual medley 5:13.78
13-14 400 metre freestyle 4:15.57
13-14 200 metre individual medley 2:16.17

Vale has been a regular fixture in the Jamaican swimming lineup since making his national debut at the 2013 CARIFTA Championships held in Kingston Jamaica.

Analysis of Vale’s 13-14 and 15-17 freestyle records

Meet Date First 100 metres Second 10 metres Third 100 metres Fourth 100 metres Final time
CISC July 4,2016 1:02.03 1:05.67 1:04.98 1:02.89 4:15.57
Futures Aug 5,2017 59.77 1:04.47 1:03.43 1:02.85 4:10.52
Nicholas Vale Pic by Mike C Lyn Futures 2017 Nashville
Nicholas Vale Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

At the same competition he registered the top times this season for the 15-17 Jamaican boys when he stopped the clock in 57.36 in the 100 metre butterfly and 2:13.03 in the 200 metre individual medley.

Vale relay takeover PC Mike Lyn Futures
Vale in relay action at Futures Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

In the relays Nicholas had two top 10 finishes with Pine Crest.

400 free relay PC N Vale
Sixth Placed Pine Crest 400 metre freestyle relay team From left to right Vale,Nico Ferrara Elvis Kotikovski and Aruban Daniel Jacobs Photo courtesy of Pine Crest Swimming

His 400 metre freestyle relay team placed 6th overall in 3:36.05  while the 400 metre medley team was 5th in 3:57.65

400 medley relay PC 5th N Vale
Fifth placed Pine Crest 400 metre medley relay from left to right Kotikovski,Ferrara,Jacob Silberman and Vale Photo courtesy of Pine Crest Swimming

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Nicholas he spoke about his achievement

“I actually didn’t know what the 15-17 400 free Jamaican National record was prior to the race. I found out afterwards that I had broken it by a second. I was very pleased with the swim considering that I still have two years left in the 15-17 age group to lower that 400 free record and hopefully break many more.

During the race I felt very controlled and smooth. My goal going into the race was to keep my splits as close as possible and I was successful in doing so. I was very pleased to have finally dropped my time of 4:15.57 from a year ago at the 2016 CISC Championships. I believe that all of my technique work along with the grueling distance sets have attributed to my success in this event. After this swim I plan on doing a lot more 400 specific pace”.




As this 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup continues Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson is getting faster and faster. On the first day of competition in Eindhoven she let the world know that the 100 scm breaststroke World record of 1:02.36 was in grave danger of being bettered. The same warning was issued in the 50 scm breaststroke.

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

In the morning preliminaries at the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium she eased into the Championship final with a time of 29.56. Her 50 scm split time of 29.32 in the 100 scm final yesterday was faster. Her swim was the only sub 30 second clocking as tour rival Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė was more than half a second adrift in 30.13.

The only question would be not who would take Gold but how fast Alia would be in winning the event in the evening.

Alia Atkinson AliAtki
Alia Atkinson Photo taken from@AliAtki

Rūta would have the slightest of lead when she had a reaction time of 0.61 to 0.62.That would be the only lead she would have over the Jamaican as Alia took over the proceedings. She would take the race in a sizzling time of 28.84, the only sub 29 seconds performance . For Atkinson ,who is sponsored by Rainforest Seafoods, GKMS and National Bakery it was the second fastest performance of her career. Only her World record swim of 28.64 in Tokyo last year was faster. It was also the third fastest time ever swum on the World Cup Circuit. The second all-time fastest performance on the circuit being the 28.80 recorded by American Jessica Hardy when she set the World Record in 2009. Atkinson’s win was also her 26th on the tour.

Rivals Rūta and Dane Rikke Møller Pedersen finished with the Silver and Bronze medals in times of 29.57 and 30.25 respectively.

Atkinson ended the day with her second best career performance in the 50 metre butterfly when she placed 8th in the Championship final with a time of 26.03.



The World Record holder in the 100 scm breaststroke Alia Atkinson had given an early warning of things to come on the second stop of the 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup in Moscow when she said she was going to work on putting on the best race technically for this year’s tour . The first day of the Eindhoven leg was near perfection as she came close to her global standard of 1:02.36.


The script could not have been written any better as Eindhoven was the site of her first 100 scm breaststroke  World Cup win on Aug 7,2013 in 1:03.90.Also in the morning heats Alia and her long time tour rival and co world record holder Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė    in the event  touched in the  same exact time  of 1:04.75.

Name heats First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
Rūta Meilutytė August 11,2017 30.37 34.38 1:04.75
Alia Atkinson August 11,2017 30.40 34.35 1:04.75

Alia corporate sponsors 2017.PNG

As draftingthecaribbean had suggested when Alia swims the first 50 metres under 29.50 the World record will come under threat as her finishing speed is greatly improved. In the Championship final there would be no sharing as Atkinson, who is sponsored by Rainforest Seafoods, GKMS and National Bakery, covered the first 50 metres under World record pace as her 50 metres in 29.32.That was more than half a second faster than the chasing Rūta who split the race at 29.90. Her improved stamina was in evidence as she also had the fastest last 50 metres with a clocking of 33.35. Atkinson final time on the scoreboard read 1:02.67. That was Atkinson’s 8th time under 1:03 seconds and the 4th fastest time she has recorded on the World Cup Tour.

Alia getty images Netherlands
Alia Atkinson waves to the crowd after the 100 scm breaststroke at Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Europe

Analysis of World Records swims and the 2017 Eindhoven performance

Venue Date First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
Qatar Dec 6,2014 29.46 32.90 1:02.36
France Aug 26,2016 29.33 33.03 1:02.36
Netherlands Aug 11,2016 29.32 33.35 1:02.67

Silver went to Meilutytė in 1:03.79 and the Bronze to American Breeja Larson in 1:04.81.
Alia had earlier placed 17th in the heats of the 200 scm individual medley in a time of 2:14.94



As draftingthecaribbean continues to highlight the top performances of swimmers from the region we look the performance of Bahamian Victoria Russell who made her first international final in the 100 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games in her home country.

The swimming competition ran from July 19 to July 22 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre. Russell competed in the 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre breaststroke races before her historic swim .She was just outside of making the finals with personal best time of 28.93 for 10th place and 34.40 for 9th place.

Victoria Russell
Victoria Russell finalist in the women’s 100 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games

She would make no mistake in the 100 metre breaststroke shattering her personal best time of 1:17.23 with a 1:14.75 to book her place in the final with teammate Lilly Higgs. In the final on Friday July 21 she was just off that time placing 8th in 1:14.82.Victoria would end the competition with another tenth placing finishing 10th in another personal best time of 27.33.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Victoria on July 27 she gave her thoughts on the build-up to the race and then the Championship final

At first I was rather surprised because in the 50 metre breaststroke I was first alternate and it was by a mere 3 hundredths of a second it was so close. I was upset that I did not get to swim the 50 breaststroke final. So going into the 100 the next day I was really focused on making the final. I honestly thought the prelims were better than the finals because in the final I was the 8th seed so I had no one to the left side of me so I was only in the race at one perspective. So I went out with the majority of the field. As I turned and looked to see the race I saw quite a few ahead of me and that discouraged me a bit from swimming my best  because I was going against a number of good competitors think that played on me a bit mentally.”

She also spoke about what she has learnt from this experience

“The thing I learnt the most is seeing how dedicated the swimmers were in terms of how they were getting ready for their races and their preparation compared to what I was doing and I saw how I could improve on that”.

Victoria also spoke about her plans for next season

I will be trying to make the Commonwealth Games team (Gold Coast Queensland Australia April 4 to 18, 2018). If not hopefully I will be aiming for the CARIFTA team that will be held in Jamaica next year”.





At the recently concluded World Championships in Budapest Hungary Aruba’s Olympian Allyson Ponson (2016) established a new marker for her country’s female freestyle sprinters when she finished in the top 50 in the 100 metre freestyle.

Allyson Ponson Aruba rio 2016 opening ceremony wikipedia
Allyson Ponson at the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Ponson finished  47th in the 100 metre freestyle in 58.81.That bettered the previous best placing of 53rd at the 2013 Barcelona Championships which Allyson had registered. In the 50 metre freestyle Allyson was 44th with a clocking of 26.76. That  50 metre sprint effort was the 2nd best performance by an Aruban woman at the global competition.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to the national record holder in both events on July 29 she gave her perspective on her Budapest experience

“The experience has been so much fun being with my teammates again and seeing them swim such fast times it was definitely motivating. Also watching the world’s best swimmers compete is such a great learning experience. For me however the meet didn’t go as wanted, I had a busy year with my  first internship which was 40 hours a week so I didn’t train like I wanted to. But overall I am happy with the times I did and the opportunity I have gotten to be able to swim amongst the best swimmers in the world”.


Monday August 7 was celebrated as a public holiday for the 55th Independence Day for Jamaicans as the 6th of August fell on a Sunday. So after providing 200 scm breaststroke Gold for Independence on the actual day Alia Atkinson provided another emphatic 100 scm breaststroke Gold medal winning performance on the Monday as well.

Alia in Berlin after competition
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA Swimming World Cup – Berlin / Official Fanpage

Atkinson, the World Record holder in the event said she would make adjustments for the second stop of FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2017 tour. Those tweaks almost resulted in a world record. In the heats of the 100 scm breaststroke she was untroubled in posting the second fastest time of the qualifiers of 1:05.71 (30.71). In the finals she set off the fireworks from the starter’s gun. She reacted in a time of 0.62 equalling  her fastest ever World Cup 100 scm breaststroke finals reaction time at the same venue in 2014. The contest for top honours was over by the first 50 metres as she took it out on the field in a time of 29.37, more than half a second of the field in a sprint event.


There has only been two occasions the Jamaican World record holder has gone out that fast on tour and the end of the tour last season in Hong Kong when she had a final time of 1:02.91 and the start of the tour in 2016 when she equalled the world record in 1:02.36.

Her final time would be just off those performances as she stopped the clock in 1:03.16. Her second 50 metres was also the fastest in the field. Silver went to Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen in 1:04.56 .The Bronze was won by Belgian Fanny Lecluyse in a time of 1:05.81. Her win was her best performance in the German capital following Bronze and Silver medal performances in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

Alia wins Silver on Day on in Berlin.JPG

In the 100 scm individual medley Atkinson would line up against the World record holder Hungary’s Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu and Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström who broke two World records in Moscow .Atkinson went out half a second faster than Moscow in a time of 27.86 but was sixth at the 50 metre mark. She would put another late race surge with the fastest finishing 50 metres of 30.26 to get the Bronze in a time of 58.12. The performance is not far off her national record of 57.84.It was also much better than the 59.55 she recorded in Moscow. That is the 2nd best time Alia has recorded on the World Cup tour and the best result in the event in Berlin bettering a Bronze medal winning effort in 2014.

Analysis of national record swim and 2017 tour races

Meet Date First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
FINA World Cup Paris August 27,2016 27.62 30.22 57.84
FINA World Cup Berlin August 7,2017 27.86 30.26 58.12
FINA World Cup Moscow August 2,2017 28.43 31.12 59.55

Hosszu would take the race in World record Time clocking 56.51 bettering her old 2015 mark of 56.67. The Swede Sjöström won Silver in 57.30


Today August 6, 2017 Jamaica celebrates 55 years of Independence and a highly favoured daughter of the soil, Alia Atkinson delivered a fitting gift to the people of the land of wood and water by winning the 200 scm breaststroke in Berlin today on the second stop of  the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2017.


face off Alia and Pedersen
European record holder Rikke Møller Pedersen and Jamaican record holder Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA Swimming World Cup – Berlin / Official Fanpage

Mere days after posting the second fastest time in her career in the event with a Bronze medal winning performance in Moscow of 2:20.63. Alia came to Germany stating that she had to fine tune aspects of her races and she did that in a big way. She qualified easily again with a time of 2:22.35 .That was almost the same time she did in the  preliminaries at the Moscow  tour when she posted 2:22.07. The European record holder in the 200 scm Rikke Møller Pedersen again topped the qualifiers with a swim of 2:21.87.

In the final it would be again Atkinson, who is the fastest Jamaican, man or woman in all formats of the 200 breaststroke whether it is yards ,scm (short course metres) or lcm ( long course metres) who went out the fastest in 31.65 .That was the same opening 50 metre split in Moscow

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of

Alia’s 200 Jamaican 200 breaststroke records

200 scy breaststroke 2:05.63
200 scm breaststroke 2:17.84
200 lcm breaststroke 2:25.48

The Dane went with her in 31.96, just .01 outside of her Russian opening salvo. That is where the similarities to Moscow ended as Pedersen did not overtake the Jamaican at the 100 metre mark .Alia had a slight advantage of 1:07.38 to 1:07.49 at the century point. Rikke would make an even greater press to gain the lead at the 150 mark but Atkinson would not yield but the lead was just .02 , 1:43.27 to 1:43.29.

Alia ready to take on the competition in Rio
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of adiimages

Seemingly summoning the strength of Jamaica’s lone heroine Nanny of the Maroons Alia put on a final 50 blast of 35.69 to take the Gold in a time of 2:18.96. Silver went to Pedersen in 2:19.52 and the Bronze in 2:19.96 to Fanny Lecluyse of Belgium. That performance and her improved back end speed should put her national record in jeopardy.

Analysis of Moscow and Berlin swims as well as the national record

Venue Date First 50 Second 50 Third 50 Last 50 Final time
Moscow Aug 3,2017 31.65 35.90 36.41 36.67 2:20.63
Berlin Aug 6,2017 31.65 35.73 35.89 35.69 2:18.96
Singapore Nov 2,2014 30.91 34.26 35.44 37.23 2:17.84

In the 50 metre butterfly Alia registered the fourth fastest preliminary time of her world Cup career to place 14th in time of 26.45. Tomorrow’s races will see her competing in the 100 scm individual medley and the 100 scm breaststroke for which she is the reigning World Champion.