Notre Dame with Jamaican senior Justin Plaschka in their ranks recorded top ten relay times in the 400 medley and 200 yard freestyle relays against Texas A&M last weekend. The dual meet which was hosted by the Fighting Irish from Oct 13-14 saw them going down 159.5 to 193.5. Despite the loss the team still recorded strong performances.


In the 200 yard freestyle relay the team of Plaschka 20.46, Tabahn Afrik 19.98, Dan Fujan 20.66 and Daniel Speers 19.90 recorded 1:21.00 to win the event. That total time bettered the 1:21.31 they recorded at the Dennis Stark relays on October 6.It also places them as the 8th fastest team in the NCAA this season so far.

Justin Plaschka 2017 Texas and m
Justin Plaschka in action in dual meet against Texas A&M Photo courtesy of


The 400 yard medley with Justin handling butterfly duties placed 2nd in the race with a time of 3:16.16. Plaschka, with a split time of 47.36 helped Notre Dame post their fastest time so far and the 5th best ranked time in the NCAA. Notre Dame’s previous best time was 3:23.56.

The 400 yard freestyle relay team of Afrik 44.68, Plaschka 44.48,Aaron Schultz 44.01 and Speers 45.12 had a winning time of 2:58.29. That was just off their 6th ranked and season best effort of 2:58.11.

Plaschka would get his hand first to the wall in the 50 yard freestyle when he stopped the clock in a time of 20.22. The longer sprint, the 100 yard freestyle saw him narrowly defeated by Texas A&M’s 44.20 to 44.28 (split time 21.09).

Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Justin, who is marketing major enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business, is the fastest active swimmer from the island in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle as well as the 50 and 100 metre butterfly. He holds the national records in three of the aforementioned events and will be one of the swimmers that should be on the teams representing Jamaica internationally for the 2017-2018 season.

Analysis of Plaschka’s best time and how he would have placed at the 2014 Commonwealth and CAC Games

Event Time CAC 2014 Commonwealth Games 2014
50 metre freestyle 22.77 NR 4th 10th
100 metre freestyle 50.92 4th 17th
50 metre butterfly 24.21 NR Silver 10th
100 metre butterfly 54.71 NR 5th 17th

The Fighting Irish will next be in action on Friday October 20 when they host Georgia Tech.


Kelsie at FIU
Kelsie Campbell Photo courtesy of FIU

As expected it did not take long for Jamaica’s Florida International University (FIU) freshman Kelsie Campbell to record her first win in the NCAA. On Saturday October 7 Campbell recorded wins in the 100 yard freestyle and 200 yard individual medley races at the Bolles School in Jacksonville Florida in just her second meet as FIU took down the University of North Florida and Georgia Southern  157- 104 and 145 to 117 respectively.


As Kelsie adjusts to swimming yards she has begun to see improvement in her times. In winning the 100 yard freestyle in 53.06 (split time 25.71) where she turned back the challenges of Georgia Southern’s  MacKenzie Brown 53.70 and Camryn Greenleaf 54.07 she bettered her personal and season best. That standard stood at 53.58 (split time 26.01). It places 8th so far in her conference known as Conference USA.


In the 200 yard individual medley she won by over two seconds when she touched in a time of 2:08.50 (split time 1:00.61). That swim ranks her 6th in the Conference USA.

She would record two more podium finishes as she touched in 24.84 in the 50 yard freestyle, 12th fastest in the Conference USA. Her FIU 200 yard medley relay opened the meet with third place performance of 1:49.15 with Kelsie handling the anchor leg freestyle duties.

Kelsie spoke to Draftingthecaribbean about swimming in the NCAA collegiate system and adjusting to life away from home

Kelsie with FIU teammates
Kelsie Campbell with FIU teammates


I am really enjoying swimming at Florida International University. The team atmosphere is amazing and I really think I am thriving here. I am still adjusting to swimming yards and I don’t quite understand my times, but I am training harder than ever particularly in the weight room. I can’t wait to see what I can achieve this season. My coach and I are working really hard on my process goals in training to achieve my end of season goals. I am missing family back home in England and feel it has been far too long since I saw my Jamaican swimming family. But I cannot wait until I next swim for Jamaica to see the team and fly the Jamaican flag high and proud”.


Kelsie 100 fly gold
18 and over women 100 metre butterfly medallists from left to right Patricia Casellas Puerto Rico Silver medallist, Kelsie Campbell Jamaica Gold medallist and Bronze Photo courtesy of Azura Florida Aquatics

At the 2017 CCCAN Championships in Trinidad and Tobago this past summer Campbell was the fastest Jamaican woman of the meet with competing in the 18 and over category she won a Gold medal in the 100 metre butterfly 1:03.23 ,Silver medals in the 50 metre butterfly 28.60 and 100 metre freestyle in 58.28 and a Bronze in the 50 metre freestyle in 26.91.

Kelsie Campbell after her record breaking Gold medal performance in the 15-17 age group at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in the Bahamas Photo courtesy of


Kelsie, who has improved every year since she started representing Jamaica in 2016 recorded personal best times last  season in the following events which would have ranked her as follows at the 2014 CAC and Commonwealth Games

Event Time CAC 2014 Commonwealth Games 2014
50 metre freestyle 26.91 10th 21st
100 metre freestyle 58.03 9th 21st
50 metre butterfly 28.26 6th 21st
100 metre butterfly 1:03.28 7th 18th



Michael Gunning made an immediate impact for Jamaica in his debut season by setting national records in the 200 and 400 metre freestyle  and 200 metre butterfly events early in the year.

Michael Gunning in action at the FINA WORLD Swimming Championships in Budapest Photo courtesy of GETTY images/Adam Pretty


Gunning would go on to do more for the island at the 17th FINA World Championships from July 14 to 30 where he lowered the national record in the 200 metre freestyle and also recorded the best times and placings by a Jamaican in the World Championships in Budapest Hungary in the 200 butterfly and freestyle events .

With a very short turnaround  time he would make the journey from Europe to Asia where he would compete in the Summer Universiade (World University Games) August 19 to 30. With the effects of a long season he did not post best times but represented the nation proudly in the 100 and 200 metre butterfly races in Taipei at the Taiwan Sport University Arena.

Sion Brin 1997
Sion Brinn 1997 Photo courtesy of

His participation ended a 20 year absence of Jamaican representation in the pool at the World University Games. The last time Jamaica participated at the global championships was when  legendary Jamaican sprinter Sion Brinn had made the finals of the 50 and 100 metre freestyle . At that competition in August 1997 in Messina Italy  where  he recorded times of 23.22 and 50.77 respectively.

WUG contingent
Jamaica’s World University Games contingent from left to right Laurence Garriques, General secretary of the Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association and head of delegation, David Riley Head Coach,Tyquendo Tracey,Sashalee Forbes (2017 World University Champion 100 metres-Athletics) Gunning and Dawnalee Loney

In the 200 metre butterfly on August 22 Gunning swam 2:03.42 (split time 58.52) to finish 26th overall. Two days later in the 100 metre butterfly his effort of 55.92 (split time 26.29) placed him 53rd 6. When Draftingthecaribbean spoke to him about the Games  on August 24 he had the following thoughts

Michael Gunning 2017 World University Games
Michael Gunning at the 2017 World University Games

“ I always knew it was going to be tough preparing for two competitions back to back but I was up for the challenge and when I got back from the World Champs in Budapest I got back in the water for two weeks and tried to maintain fitness and sharpen up again.I didn’t quite deliver the performances I was hoping for this week but I’ve learnt a lot in the process and it’s been a great test event for the Commonwealth Games next year because it exposed me to the athletes village life and the factors I will have to face and be prepared for next year.It’s been great supporting my fellow 3 team members out here in Taipei and see Sashalee Forbes win gold in the 100 metres (athletics) so it’s definitely inspired me for next season”.

Analysis of Gunning’s national records and where they would have placed him at the 2014 CAC and Commonwealth Games

Event Time CAC 2014 Commonwealth Games 2014
400 metre freestyle 3:57.70 5th 18th
200 metre freestyle 1:50.00 Silver 12th
200 metre butterfly 1:59.83 Silver 12th

Michael will next be in action in October at the Manchester International which run from October 21 to 22 in the 100 and 200 metre butterfly, 200 and 400 metre freestyle and 400 metre individual events .


Auburn’s Jamaican senior Breanna Roman opened her 2017-2018 season with a win in the 100 yard breaststroke yesterday Saturday October 14. Roman recorded the win at home at the Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn Alabama as Auburn beat Wisconsin and Tennessee.


Breanna, who is a student at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering separated herself from the field with a 50 yard split of 29.43 .She would use that early advantage to take the win in 1:02.60.Placing second and third were the Tennessee duo of Katie Armitage and Nikol Popov who touched in times of 1:02.83 and 1:03.08 respectively. That performance ranks as the 10 fastest time in the NCAA so far this season.

Patrick Atkinson Roman Boothe
Jamaica’s record breaking 400 medley relay team from left to right Trudi ann Patrick,Alia Atkinson ,Breanna Roman, Danielle Boothe

Breanna who was a part of Jamaica’s record setting 400 medley relay team at the 2015 PAN AM Games started the season with a win in the very first event, the 400 yard medley relay. The Auburn Tigers A team of Alyssa Tetzloff backstroke , Breanna breaststroke, Haley Black butterfly  and Julie Meynan freestyle topped the field with a time of 3:30.79.Breanna contributed a 1:02.60 split which helped the Auburn team post the fastest time in the NCAA so this season.

She would have another top three performance in the 200 yard breaststroke when she touched in 2:16.97 (split time 1:05.90) for third spot. The win went to Alexis Yager of Tennessee in 2:15.90 and second went to Roman’s teammate Carly Cummings in 2:16.58.

Breanna Roman in action for Auburn University

For the 2016-2017 season Breanna was the fastest swimmer from the CCCAN region in the US collegiate system in the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 59.99.

Final scores

Auburn  205 Wisconsin 146

Auburn 181 Tennessee 172.

The Tigers will next be in action on October 21 when they take on Texas &M  at home.


Rio 2016 Olympian Alex Sobers has established himself as the go to man for Barbados in the freestyle events in recent years from the 100 metres upwards.

Alex Sobers CISC Gold
Alex Sobers with Gold after winning the 15-17 boys 400 metre freestyle in a meet and Barbados senior national record of 3:57.30


Having already captured the 400 metre national record with a time of 3:57.30 at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships it would be natural that the 200 metre national standard of 1:52.30 held by Olympian Bradley Ally (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008,  London 2012) would be a target heading into the World Championships in Budapest.

On June 30 in the Men’s 18 and over at the CCCAN Championship final in Trinidad and Tobago he placed fourth in a then personal best time of 1:53.00. That swim put the record on notice that it would be a matter of time before he lowered it.

Less than a month later he would fall agonizingly short of the mark when he hit the pads in a time of 1:52.50 ranking him 44th overall. That performance was the best time ever done by a swimmer from Barbados at the World Championships. It was also the best placing by a man from Barbados at the global competition. The previous best time and placing was 1:57.74 and 68th spot by Christian Selby at the 2015 Kazan Championships.

Damian Alleyne
Damian Alleyne Barbados Olympian (2000,2004) Photo courtesy of Khalil Goodman for Better Health Magazine June 2011

That swim put him ahead of the former national record holder Olympian Damian Alleyne (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) who had set the record at 1:52.75 winning heat 3 of the event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on Sep 17, 2000.

Bradley Ally panamericanworld
Bradley Ally Photo courtesy of


Ally lowered that mark almost seven years later leading off the Pine Crest 800 freestyle A team at the 2007 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis. That team which would place fifth overall in 7:31.23 included Cayman Islands Olympian Shaune Fraser (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012) handling second leg duties.

Analysis of the fastest three swims by a swimmer from Barbados

Name Date Meet First 50 Second 50 Third 50 Fourth  50 Final time
Damian Alleyne Sep 17,2000 Olympics 27.04 28.48 28.81 28.42 1:52.75
Alex Sobers July 24,2017 World Champs 26.82 28.38 28.75 28.55 1:52.50
Bradley Ally Aug 2,2007 US Nationals 26.14 28.27 28.62 29.27 1:52.30

Sobers, who is now sophomore at Emmanuel College made a huge impact for the Franklin Springs Georgia based institution in the 2016 -2017. see link below

500 freestyle medal podium from left to right Silver medallist Stanislas Raczynski (Emmanuel),Gold medallist meet record holder Alex Sobers (Emmanuel),Bronze medallist Erwin Ortiz Torres(Mars Hill) Photo courtesy of

He set three individual records and was a part of four record breaking relay teams.

Event Time
100 yard freeestyle 44.26
200 yard freestyle 1:35.95
500 yard freestyle 4:27.56
200 yard freestyle relay 1:22.55
400 yard freestyle relay 3:00.26
800 yard freestyle relay 6:42.23
400 yard medley relay 3:18.77

He got the 2017 -2018 to a winning start as Emmanuel won their Invitational on Saturday Oct 7. Sobers won the 100 yard freestyle by almost four seconds touching the clock in 45.29.That swimis also the fastest time in Division 2 so far.He also had the fastest 50 freestyle split of all relay legs as he anchored the A team to 1:27.53 with his split of 21.10.


Matthew Mays freshman bryantbulldogs
Matthew Mays Photo courtesy of

Bryant University US Virgin Islands freshman Matthew Mays had a winning start for the Bulldogs as they beat Boston College 161-137. Competing at the Chace Athletic Center Pool on October 6 in Smithfield Rhode Island Mays was undefeated in all four events that he competed in.

In his very first race, the 200 yard butterfly Matthew came from fifth place after the first 50 to win the race in 1:52.94 topping the field by more than a second and setting a new pool record in the process.

The 200 yard backstroke saw the Business Major ahead from the start and he never relinquished that lead to win in a time of 1:54.63.

The St Croix native’s win in the 100 yard butterfly win was more emphatic as he stopped the clock in 51.04 more than two seconds ahead of the next best placed finisher.

His final race on Friday saw him anchoring the Bulldogs 400 yard freestyle relay in with the fastest of all splits 47.22 .That gave them the victory in a time of 3:12.93.

Matthew  won the Silver medal in the 200 metre backstroke 2:07.07 and Bronze medal in the 200 metre butterfly 2:08.05 in the 18 and over category at the 2017 CCCAN Championships in Trinidad.


Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas, a top regional age group standout has committed to swimming for the University of North Carolina starting September 2018.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

Lilly has been the CARIFTA Championships top sprint breaststroker for the last two years. She has also been unbeaten in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke for the last three extending to her final year of the 13-14 age group. Since winning her first CARIFTA medal, a bronze for Team Bahamas at the Aruba Championships in 2014 she has become a powerhouse for her country at the annual championships. Her overall CARIFTA medal tally now stands at 30 medals won, eleven of which are Gold.

Lilly created history for her country and the CARIFTA region last season when she won a Silver medal in new 15-17 and senior national record in the 50 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games July when The Bahamas hosted the competition. She would also lower the 15-17 and senior national record See link below

World Junior Champs team Bahamas.PNG

Her impressive run at the junior level also extends to the World Junior Championships where she competed at two editions, 2015 in Singapore and recently in Indiana. Lilly bettered her times from her first campaign and registered the top CARIFTA regional performances in all the events she competed in. She again lowered the national mark in the 100 metre breaststroke

Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
Aug 25, 2015 World Juniors Singapore 50 metre breaststroke 33.19 21st
Aug 27, 2016 World Juniors Singapore 100 metre breaststroke 1:13.00 24th
Aug 30, 2017 World Juniors Singapore 200 metre breaststroke 2:40.48 29th
Aug 28, 2017


World Juniors Singapore 200 metre individual medley 2:25.73 40th
Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
August 23,2017 World Juniors Indiana 50 metre breaststroke 32.84 20th
August 25,2017 World Juniors Indiana 100 metre breaststroke 1:11.18 22nd
August 28,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre breaststroke 2:39.87 30th
August 26,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre individual medley 2:23.41 34th

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her about her college choice she had the following thoughts

“After many trips to schools and teams around the country, I decided that my best option for continuing my education and training was right here in North Carolina at UNC.  I am so excited to be a Tar Heel!”.

Lilly will join a number of talented Bahamian women competing at the NCAA Division I level. Those swimmers include Laura Morley who competes at University of Indiana –Bloomington and older sister Albury who swims for the University of South Carolina.