The final day of competition at the UANA Cup at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex on Jan 21 saw Keianna Moss of The Bahamas and Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago earning medals .
Moss added to the 100 metre backstroke Bronze she had won earlier in the competition when she won the Silver in the 50 metre backstroke in 33.71. The Gold went to Luiza Lima of Brazil in 33.30 and the Bronze to Emilia Julieta Gutierrez Merino of Mexico in 34.16. When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her after the race she had the following thoughts
“In the 50 backstroke I got Silver I executed my race how my coach wanted me to but on my start I went a little too deep. I missed by PB by hundredths of a second. I am proud to bring home the Silver for The Bahamas”.
Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago showed grit and determination to win her first medal of the competition in the last individual race of the meet , the 50 metre butterfly .Anthony had a number near misses before stepping on to the medal podium stopping the clock in 31.44 to win Bronze. Silver went to Paraguay’s Astrid Caballero in 31.42 and the Gold to Mexican Sofia Laureano Perez in 30.14. Anthony was the best placed CARIFTA region garnering 29 points to place 6th overall.When draftingthecaribbean spoke to the versatile youngster she gave her impression of her performances in Florida
“I certainly felt relieved to finish in third place in the 50 fly you don’t want to attend a swim meet of this calibre and go home empty handed I had three 4th places finished in the 400 free, 200 free and a heartbreaker in the 100 freestyle (she was out touched for the Bronze by 0.25 of a second) so my third place finish was indeed very satisfying. Overall the meet was a tough one for me. The competition from the Mexicans and Brazilians was really challenging and the weather on Day One was a significant challenge. My times were much slower than normal for the 400 free and 200IM but overall it was a fantastic experience”.
The final day of competition at the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida on Jan 21 saw Team Jamaica resetting the record books in the mixed 200 metre freestyle relay and Shaun Johnson recording a Youth Olympic B time in the 50 metre freestyle.
The 15-17 mixed 200 metre freestyle relay team of Shaun Johnson 27.37, Jesse Marsh 24.46 ,Gabrianna Banks 27.12 and Nicholas Vale 24.75 set a new senior and 15-17 age group record of 1:43.70 to place 4th overall. The team was the highest placed CARIFTA region quartet in their age group.
The previous record was set at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships when the team of Keanan Dols 24.62, Bryanna Renuart 28.13,Marsh 25.57 and Kelsie Campbell 26.93 touched in 1:45.25.
Shaun Johnson who was a member of the 2017 CARIFTA “Golden Girls” went under the Youth Olympics B qualifying mark of 27.39 with her opening leg. In 2017 Jamaica’s 15-17 girls dubbed the “Golden Girls” won all their relay events at the CARIFTA Championships winning the 200, 400 and 800 metre freestyle relays as well as the 400 metre medley relay.
When draftingthecaribbean caught up with Johnson she spoke about the race, the competition overall and being chosen as the flag bearer
“For the 4 x 50 freestyle relay, I was a little nervous because I had never done a mixed relay before and I rarely ever lead off. Coach Gillian (Millwood) decided to place me in the relay and said she was confident in seeing a great 50 time for me being the lead off especially considering I didn’t do the 50 free this weekend. Seeing 27.37 was surprising! My PB for last year was a 27.72 at CARIFTA and right now I’m in the middle of my high school season so things look exciting in that event. The rest of the team actually voted me to be the flag bearer and that was a fun part of the weekend as well! That was really cool”.
Britney Williams tied with Alison Jackson of The Cayman Islands as the top CARIFTA region performer in the 15-17 100 metre freestyle with identical 59.55’s for 5th place.
Team Jamaica finished the competition with 6 more best times on the final day to end with 20 new personal records overall, two age group records and one senior national record.
Emily MacDonald was the best placed Jamaican in the high point scoring for the age group placing 8th with 22 points.
Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka continued his good form in his senior season with the University of Notre Dame as he recorded his 5th victory in the 50 yard freestyle this season at the Shamrock Invitational which ran from Jan 26 to 27.
He won the event in 20.22 just holding off teammate Daniel Speers who touched in 20.28. Justin would also be a member of three Fighting Irish relay victories. In the 400 medley relay he contributed a 46.74 butterfly as the team touched in a winning time of 3:13.94.In the 400 yard freestyle relay the clock was stopped at 2:54.59. Plaschka handled 2nd leg duties with a 43.55 split. He actually started the competition at Notre Dame’s Rolfs Aquatic Center with a victory in the 200 yard freestyle relay. He got the relay off to a lead and the fastest time at the meet with a time of 20.10 as the team went on to win in 1:19.40. That opening leg is under the NCAA B time of 20.16, a standard he has bettered 5 times this season.
He would take a victory in 200 yard butterfly in what could be considered an off event for the sprinter. He won the race in 1:48.33 (split time 50.68) and from the firing of the starter’s gun he was always ahead. It is also not far off from the NCAA B time of 1:47.99.
The 100 yard butterfly saw him just out touched by Ohio State’s Noah Lense 47.52 to 47.73 despite charging hard to record the fastest last 50 yards of 24.80. Notre Dame topped men’s competition with 998.50 followed by Ohio State with 933.50 points. When draftingthecaribbean caught up with Plaschka on January 28 he had the following thoughts
“We are at the end of our latest training session and are about to start taper for conference so I’m pretty tired and worn out so those times are very good for me for this time of year. I’m looking forward to what can be done in four weeks at ACCs and then NCAAs”
The ACC competition will be held in Greensboro North Carolina from Feb 21 to 24.
The final day of the UANA CUP in Coral Springs Florida saw Jack Kirby of Barbados completing the backstroke sprint double. Kirby would be the best placed swimmer from the CARIFTA region as he placed second overall with 26.5 points. Kirby, who was fittingly named Junior Athlete of the Year for 2017 for his nation lived up to that accolade by producing yet another another stellar performance.
He started his run of good performances by completing the CARIFTA region trifecta in the 50 metre backstroke. Earlier Zarek Wilson of Trinidad and Tobago and Lamar Taylor of The Bahamas captured the 11-12 and 13-14 crowns respectively.
He won the event in a time of 26.63 holding off Mexican standout Guillermo Cruz Zuniga who stopped the clock 26.73 .Matheus Zacharias of Brazil won the Bronze in 27.16. Kirby’s effort lowered his previous 15-17 national record of 26.88 set at the World Junior Championships in Indianapolis on August 25.It also bettered the Youth Olympic Games A qualifying standard of 26.73.He completed the backstroke double after winning the 100 metre in an new age group and Youth Olympic A standard time of 56.34.
In his sights for the CARIFTA Games will be the Championship record of 26.31 set by Trinidad and Tobago’s David McLeod at the 2014 Aruba Championships.
In the 100 metre freestyle he placed 4th in a time of 52.04 (split time 25.70) .He was just out touched by Zacharias who punched the clock in 51.96. Kirby’s strong back end speed was evidenced yet again as he produced the fastest last 50 metres of the competition of 26.34.
His effort earned him yet another age group record as he lowered the 52.25 (split time 25.42) set by Olympian Alex Sobers (Rio 2016) when he won Gold at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships in Martinique.
In the very last event of the day the mixed 200 metre freestyle relay Kirby lead off the Barbados team with a time of 23.68. That broke yet another Sobers age group standard of 24.14. Alex had set the record in the heats of the 50 metre freestyle at the 2016 CARIFTA championships. That also puts Kirby within striking distance of the Youth Olympics A standard time of 23.56. The other members of the team Danielle Titus 27.79, McKayla Treasure 29.31 and Luis Sebastian Weekes helped to produce a total time of 1:45.39 just missing the age group record of 1:45.16 to place 8th overall. The national age group record was set by the team of Sobers, Hannah Gill, Damon St Prix and Treasure set at the 2016 Caribbean Island Swimming championships in The Bahamas.
With that swim Kirby has put his name in the conversation to swim the event at CARIFTA in Jamaica and possibly go after the Championship record of 23.37 set by Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe (Rio 2016) of Suriname at the 2013 Kingston Championships. Kirby gave his thoughts about his final day performances to draftingthecaribbean
“To me the race (50 metre backstroke) didn’t feel that great but the outcome was good. For the 100 free, the plan was to make the same time or better from the day before. For the 50 free, the goal was just to make the 23 from the start of the meet so making it on the second attempt was a great feeling”.
Jamaica’s quality at the senior level in terms of depth and class continues on its upward trajectory and one of the swimmers who is a part of that current pool of trendsetters Luke Gunning opened his long course season at the 2018 Flanders Cup .The meet was held in Antwerp from January 20-21.
Luke is still in the midst of hard training as the goal for all swimmers will be to peak during the summer to earn a chance at national representation for the CCCAN and CAC Games which will be held in Barranquilla Colombia from July 19 to August 3. His best finish was in the 100 metre butterfly where he clocked 56.94 to place 6th in the B final. He was 15th in the 200 metre butterfly in 2:11.88, 27th in the 50 metre butterfly in 26.30 and 25th in the 200 metre freestyle in 1:58.32.
Luke who is conditioned at the Beckenham Swimming Club in the United Kingdom had the following thoughts about his performances
“It was great fun racing in Belgium but I’m a long way away from my best times so I’d like to see an improvement at the BUCS (British Universities and College Sport) Champs in a few weeks’ time. This was my first long course of the season so I wasn’t expecting much but I’m looking forward to racing in more events and seeing how fast I can swim”.
The final day of the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida on January 21 started with Lamar Taylor of The Bahamas with a Silver medal from the 50 metre freestyle. By the end of the competition he would be the CARIFTA region’s top performer in the boy’s 13-14 age group winning three more medals of each colour Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Taylor got the day got off in the best possible manner as he took the 50 metre backstroke Gold in a new personal best of 28.62 bettering his old record 29.20. In fact he was the only person under the 29 seconds barrier as Gabriel Nascimento of Brazil won the Silver in 29.21 and Ramiro Faya of Argentina won the Bronze in 29.33.
Up next was the 100 metre freestyle where he recorded yet another personal best of 54.77 (split 26.56) to take the Bronze. His previous personal standard was 55.09.In that race the first five finishers were all within a second of each other . Victor Salcedo Carrillo of Mexico won the race in 54.00 and Gustavo Saldo of Brazil won Silver in 54.24.
In his final event the 50 metre butterfly he and eventual winner Gabriel Dias of Brazil were the only sub 27 seconds swimmers as they touched in 26.59 and 26.46. It would be yet another personal best for Lamar as his old record was 26.97.
In speaking to draftingthecaribbean after his swims he had the following thoughts
“I went three for three in PRs and medals in all my events today. My races were good today. In my 50 metre backstroke I was just trying to turn over as fast as I could and have some good underwater kicks. In the 100 metre freestyle I had my sights set on 54.78 and I went 54.77 and I was happy about that time because I know I gave it my best. It is a great feeling to PR and medal at a high class meet like this during the season. In the 50 metre butterfly it my aim to go 26 and I did it and came second. I feel great about my swims and hope that I can do even better as the year progresses”. Taylor was third overall with in the high point rankings with 37 points. Barbados had the best placed relay team of the competition with a fourth place finish in the 200 metre medley relay in a new national age group record time. The team of Tristan Pragnell,McCallum Clarke ,Roan Baker and Kai Trotman touched in a total time of 1:58.81. That bettered the national standard of 2:03.83 set way back in 1993.
The final day of the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida on Jan 21 saw Nigel Forbes of the Bahamas and Zarek Wilson of Trinidad and Tobago landing more titles. The two swimmers were the top individual swimmers in all the individual events.
Forbes would complete the sprint breaststroke double when he took the 100 metre breaststroke title in a time of 1:15.07. The race itself was a close battle between Forbes and Brazilian Breno Bespo as they had respective splits of 35.40 and 35.41. Forbes’ superior back end speed proved decisive as he turned in the only sub 40 second last 50 in the field to touch in 1:15.07. Bespo stopped the clock in 1:16.07. Mexican Nathan Ochoa Neurouth won the Bronze in 1:18.90.
Earlier in the day he would add the 50 metre butterfly Bronze to the 100 metre butterfly Silver he had won earlier. Forbes would stop the clock in 28.68.Nigel will certainly have the 2009 CARIFTA record of Dylan Carter in his sights .
Draftingthecaribbean got a few words from Nigel about his medal winning performances and UANA overall
“It was a good experience for me I enjoyed event and the competition was very tough. But in the end my hard work payed off because I ended up with Two Gold One Silver and a Bronze. It was a good meet for me and I hope to do even better next time”.
50 metre breaststroke
100 metre breaststroke
100 metre butterfly
50 metre butterfly
Easily the most versatile CARIFTA region swimmer at the meet Zarek Wilson lead a Gold Rush for the boys in the 50 metre backstroke. Copping Gold as well were Lamar Taylor of The Bahamas 13-14 and Jack Kirby of Barbados 15-17. Zarek completed the sprint backstroke double when he won his race in 30.20.He will be looking to take down the 2014 CARIFTA record of 29.80 set by Suriname’s Yael Touw Ngie Tjouw. Zarek had a convincing victory as the Silver medallist from Mexico José Nangullasmú Arellane touched in 31.80 Simon Bermudez of Colombia won Bronze in 32.83.Wilson would be back to medal winning ways again in the very next event taking the Silver medal in the 100 metre freestyle in a time of 58.30.
Wilson’s strong performances follow in the same vein of top age group swimmers that we have seen from the twin island Republic to include Joshua Romany, Dylan Carter, Nicholas Bovell and George Bovell III to name just a few. Zarek gave draftingthecaribbean a few words about the competition overall
“The UANA Swim Cup provided excellent competition and it was also an opportunity to see where I am in my training. I am happy that I was able to contribute to Team TTO’s efforts and improve a few of my personal bests. My focus now returns to preparing for CARIFTA”.