ZAREK WILSON LEADS STRONG 11-12 AGE GROUP TO BE A MAJOR FORCE IN TEAM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S MEDAL COUNT AT CARIFTA 2018

The recently concluded 2018 CARIFTA Championships saw a very strong contingent from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago dominating the 11-12 age group in Kingston.The 11-12 team included Nikoli Blackman,Zoe Anthony,Joy Blackett,Gabrielle Vickles,Josiah Changar,Amelia Rajack,Savannah Chee-Wah, Stachys Harley,Nieshelah Caseman, Caitlyn Look Fong ,Sheni St Hilaire and Zarek Wilson.

Team TTO 11-12
TEAM TTO 11-12 swimmers at CARIFTA 2018 Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

They were also the major force behind the squad earning 19 Gold 19 Silver and 7 Bronze as the youngsters hauled in 15 Gold, 14 Silver and Two Bronze.

Team TTO opening ceremony
Team Trinidad and Tobago at the opening ceremony Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

In the relays Team TTO did not place below Silver for any relay and fittingly they won the 400 mixed freestyle relay . The team of Anthony , Changar ,Chee-Wah and  Blackman swam under the old Championship record of 4:10.82  twice, in the heats 4:05.25 and final 4:08.60.

young 11-12 female
11-12 400 medley relay Silver medallist from left to right Zoe Anthony, Caitlyn Look Fong, Neishelah Caseman, Savannah Chee-Wah Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

 

T and T Gold medal
400 medley relay Gold medallists from left to right Josiah Changar, Nikoli Blackman, Stachys Harley, Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

The 11-12’s got their CARIFTA 2018 off on a Golden note as Zoe Anthony won the 200 metre breaststroke in a time of 2:53.55

Zoe Anthony competing in the heats of the 200 mtre breatstroke
Zoe Anthony competing in the heats of the 200 metre breaststroke Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Leading the medal charge for the 11-12 age group was Zarek Wilson who won 13 Gold medals and set a CARIFTA record in the 400 metre freestyle on his way to winning  the high point trophy .

Elan and Zarek hrold wilson photos
11-12 high point winners girls and boys Elan Daley of Bermuda and Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

In many of 11-12  victories for the boys Team TTO delivered a one –two punch for the boys as Wilson and his countryman Nikoli Blackman set a pace that gave their competitors too much to handle.

Blackman and Wilson
Nikoli Blackman and Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Wilson and he gave us his thoughts

“After Carifta 2017 where I won 2 individual bronze and 2 relay golds I was both satisfied and disappointed at the same time.  Satisfied to have qualified for Carifta after competing at the Goodwill level for several years.  Disappointed because I wanted to achieve so much more.  After the Bahamas, I was able to train more consistently and pay more attention to my dryland exercises, since the Secondary Entrance Exam was now behind me.

Zarek Wilson
Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

This year in Jamaica I was satisfied with what I had achieved, especially since this was my final year of the 11-12 age group.My coach, Edmund Pouchet, expanded my swim program, adding new events like the 400 metre  freestyle and 400 metre  individual medley.  These two events ended up being memorable.  The 400 metre freestyle was a battle with my friend Nikoli Blackman.  We both went under the Championship record (4:29.92 Samson Boileau Guadeloupe), but I was able to out touch him at the end (4:27.78 to 4:27.89).

Zarek with Landon Von Kanel trophy
Wilson with the Landon Von Kanel trophy for the 11-12 swimmer who wins both the 200 and 400 metre freestyle races. It is awarded in honour of Von Kanel who was a top swimmer from The Cayman Islands who left us too soon Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

And the 400 metre individual medley was on the back end of a triple, which  included the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.  Head Coach Shawn Pouchet really encouraged me when I was feeling tired.  He reminded that I had actually been been practicing for days like this.  His encouragement paid off for me.  Even though it was painful, I was able to persevere and gain my third personal best of the day  (5:10.41).

Blackman and Wilson preparing to race
Zarek and Nikoli preparing to race Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

 

CARIFTA in Jamaica was a really enjoyable experience for me. The atmosphere was great and I was happy to share the podium with my team mate and friend Nikoli on multiple occasions.  We have been swimming, competing and having fun together since we were  6 or 7 years old. Now that CARIFTA is over, I am preparing for CCCAN in Aruba.  After that I will sit down with my coach, Edmund Pouchet, and begin planning for next year, which will be my first year in the 13-14 age group”.

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