Tyler Russell behind the blocks before the Championship final of the boys 15-17 100 metre breaststroke Photo courtesy of C.C.C,A.N

At CCCAN 2018 in Aruba Tyler Russell of The Bahamas closed with the fastest second 50 metres of the field of the boys 15-17 100 metres breaststroke to earn a Silver medal in a new personal best time of 1:05.68.The look of accomplishment and quiet determination on his face belied a swimmer who had found a new approach of performing in championship final.

2018 CCCAN medallists from left to right Russell Silver medallist, Luis Sebastian Weekes Gold medallist and Luke -Kennedy Thompson Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of C.C.C.A.N

Fast forward to his first conference championships with NCAA DIII powerhouses Emory University and this new self belief was seen in an excellent display of swimming that earned him Two Gold and a Silver at at the UAA (University Athletic Association) Conference Championships.

The meet which was held from Feb 13 to 16 at the Myers-McLoraine Pool at the Ratner Athletics Center at the University of Chicago saw the freshman earning his first medal, a Gold in the 400 yard medley relay. The team of Sage Ono,Russell ,HwaMin Sim and Trey Kolleck recorded the only sub 3:18 seconds time of 3:17.86 to lift the long medley relay crown.

Tyler Russell in action in the 400 yard medley relay Photo courtesy of Milena Russell
backstrokeSage Ono49.81
breaststrokeTyler Russell55.55
butterflyHwaMin Sim48.82
freestyleTrey Kolleck43.68
Total time3:17.86

Silver went to University of Chicago in 3:18.28 and the Bronze to Washington University St Louis in 3:18.52.

Gold medal number two would be in the sprint medley relay .This time the butterfly leg duties would be handled by Colin LaFave. This time the Eagles were the only team under 1:29.Tyler went clocked 25.12 in the mornings heats on the breaststroke leg and was even faster in the championship with a leg timed at 25.06.

backstrokeSage Ono22.91
breaststrokeTyler Russell25.06
butterflyColin LaFave21.24
freestyleTrey Kolleck19.75
Total time1:28.96

Second and third spots went to Chicago and Washington in 1:29.70 and 1:29.77 respectively.

Tyler Russell bringing the heat in the 100 yard breaststroke Photo courtesy of D.B Cooper

After earning podium places it was fitting that he should get individual glory in arguably his best event, the 100 yard breaststroke. In the morning heats he qualified for the Championship final in seventh place with a time of 56.98.That performance was the third fastest time of his career at that point. In the night’s final Russell trailed in fifth place with a split of 26.17.After the turn he changed gears and brought the heat as he did in the summer of 2018 in Aruba to record the fastest back half of 29.52. He ran out of water to catch the early leader and eventual Gold medallist Kevin Van Cleave of Washington 55.32 .He did however earn himself his first individual conference medal a Silver in a new personal best of 55.69 , his first sub 56 seconds clocking.Bronze went to Nianzhong Liu,a senior from NYU in 55.78. He is the fastest Eagle in the event for this season.Only two former Eagles Andrew Wilson and Cooper Tollen have swum faster than Russell in the last decade.

In the 200 yard breaststroke he earned an evening swim in the C final.He recorded the second fastest time of his career , 2:08.11 (split time 1:00.14).In the 200 yard IM he placed 25th in a season best and the third fastest time of his career of 1:56.47.The Eagles won the Conference championships with 1848 points. Finishing runner up was Washington University St Louis with 1454.5 points and third was University of Chicago who tallied 1299.5 points.

Draftingthecaribbean spoke to the talented six footer from Nassau about his his expectations heading into the conference , his performances , what areas he wants to improve upon for the DIII Championships which start today in Greensboro ,North Carolina and that CCCAN performance .

Russell off to a a fast start at the UAA Champs Photo courtesy of Milena Russell

“So going into Conference the big goal was to qualify for NCAA’s the Division III championships.That was the big focus for the team. I knew the relay would be my best shot for that and it turned out that is what I ended up making it for.I got close in the 10 breast but I missed it by a little bit.I was hoping to have fun and that we would the meet as a team as we usually do and enjoy the experience as a freshman.It was cool to be able to go.In terms of my performances I was really excited by it.It was an honour to be on the relays.They were really fun and we won which was cool.The team energy was really great.The big idea was to establish ourselves as astrong relay especially going in NCAA’s where that are going to be some tough teams .For my 100 breast where I got second that was really exciting and I was actually surprised.I was hoping to make the A final but I definitely was not expecting to place very well.I was pretty much just focused on my time to hopefully get into the top 16 to qualify for NCAA’s.I missed that by a little bit but I was still happy with my time because it was a pretty big improvement and I still ended up making the meet for the relays.It was pleasant surprise to actually come second because I was not even thinking about that.Going into NCAA’s my goal is to make an A final.That could include being on a relay.the meet is very competitive and is not a given.Also to make an A final individually would be amazing.That would definitely make the meet worthwhile.If I am on the relay we would be hoping to win the event .We are in fourth right now but we have a lot left in us so we can all improve some more and it all really close.It will all come down to the race and who performs and seeing how everybody performs and hopefully we can take it.For me to improve I need to get my pullouts to be better.That is normally where my competitors get me.My swim is normally fine coming from a long course background.My competitors have been doing more short course yards longer than me so have better turns.I think it is going to be good because lot of persons are really nervous because they have never been to a big meet before.With my Caribbean background it is really cool to get to get go to bigger meets.It is a really big meet I am a bit nervous but I know I can handle the pressure because I have been in high stakes situations before.I was really happy with CCCAN. The 100 breast was really good .Most of my swims I was very happy with.The biggest change I made was just putting less pressure on myself .I have a tendency to be real serious and uptight but I tried to change that and put less pressure on myself and enjoy it more.That helped me having more confidence in my races that actually goes a long way which was a pleasant surprise.Hopefully I can keep doing that and continuing to improve going into these other meets”.


One of the region’s most distinguished swimmers in junior waters Kael Yorke was honoured by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. Yorke was bestowed the award of being the Junior sportsman of the Year for 2018. The awards ceremony which is in its 24 year took place on Saturday December 29 at the  Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain saw Yorke’s sister Keaona accepting the award on his behalf.

Keona Yorke receiving the 2018 Junior Sportsman of the Year Award on behalf of her brother

He joins other past Junior Sportsperson from swimming to include Christian Homer and Cherelle Thompson

Junior Sportsman Awardees

2015 Junior sportsperson awardees Jeron Thompson and Khalifa St Fort.Photo courtesy of realworld fiction
2010Christian Homer
2013Dylan Carter
2015Jeron Thompson
right Kimberlee John Williams at the 2009 awards with other winner .Photo courtesy of TTOC

Junior Sportswoman awardees

2009Kimberlee John-Williams
2010Cherelle Thompson
Left Christian Homer and second from right Cherelle Thompson with other awardees for 2010. Photo courtesy of the Guardian

Kael Yorke had a fantastic year for his nation and has been extraordinarily consistent with top performances in his best stroke, the butterfly.

Kael Yorke

The year started with his first national meet at the UANA Cup in Coral Springs in Florida from January 18 to 21 where he was the number one swimmer for the English speaking Caribbean when he won Silver and Bronze in the 50 and 100 metre butterfly with times of 25.52 and 56.53.

Kael Yorke diving off the blocks in the heats of the 50 metre butterfly Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Next on his list of international duties was the CARIFTA swimming Championships in Kingston Jamaica from April 1 to 4 where he kept up his remarkable butterfly record at the Championships.

Year50100200Age group
2017GoldGold Gold15-17
CARIFTA 2018 15-17 100 metre butterfly medal podium.Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn
Meet50 butterfly100 butterfly200  butterfly
CARIFTA25.45 Silver55.57 Gold2:05.88 Gold

At his nation’s national Championships he had a long awaited break through in the 100 metre butterfly when he recorded his first sub 55 seconds clocking to take the national title in a time of 54.84 . That swim earned him his first senior team cap as it qualified him for the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla Colombia.

He would continue to rack up the international flying miles as he would continue to prove himself at the junior ranks at the CCCAN Championships from June 29 to July 4 in Aruba . There he again proved his mastery of the butterfly with podium spots in all three events

CCCAN 15-17 50 metre butterfly podium.Photo courtesy of C.C.C.A.N
50 metre butterfly25.17Gold 
100 metre butterfly55.28Gold 
200 metre butterfly2:08.27Bronze

He would continue to improve in Colombia lowering his personal best in the 100 metre butterfly to 54.57 in the heats. That gave him another first in his CV , a major regional Championship final berth. In that final as the youngest swimmer he placed seventh in a time of 54.27 (split time 25.02).He would take well to the senior ranks as he would make the B final in the 200 metre butterfly and place sixth in yet another personal best of 2:05.20.

Kael at the University of Indianapolis

After those duties he was off to embark on a new journey in the collegiate ranks as he started school at the University of Indianapolis in the NCAA Division II.Despite the change in programmes and the long flight to the Argentina Yorke continued to give for his best for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at the Youth Olympics from October 7 to 12. He was given the added honour of being the flag bearer. In the 50 metre butterfly he was the number one swimmer in the CCCAN region and 26th overall with a time of 25.20. The 100 metre butterfly saw him finishing second in the CCCAN region with a time 55.72 to finish 28th overall.

He would end his junior international career with the 15-17 record in the 200 metre butterfly with a time of 2:05.03 (split time 58.71). That ranked him 21st overall.

Kael is making impact already in the collegiate ranks as in November at the 15th House of Champions Invitational he won the 100 yard butterfly in a time of 48.53. That ranks him as number three in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and number four all time in the school history.

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Kael he gave his thoughts on winning the Junior Sportsman of the Year award

Junior Sportsman of the Year award

” It is an honour to receive this prestigious award of being the top Junior male Athlete of Trinidad and Tobago.It is something I have been working to for awhile now. It is something I really wanted to achieve to add to the accolades I have received during my junior years of competition and is the icing on top of the cake.My season this year has been really amazing probably one of my best years yet. My greatest achievement to me this year was my seventh place finish in the CAC Games final for the 100 metre butterfly.Competing against Olympians and national champions is something that was really a great experience for me as I was a junior and the youngest in the final. The Youth Olympic Games was another highlight for me although it was not my best Games it was still an opportunity to compete against some of the juniors I will be seeing at future World Championships and probably even the Olympics”.


On Saturday November 16 at the Florida 4A State Championships in Stuart Florida Aruba’s Brandon Cheong provided a sensational breaststroke leg for the Bucholz high school to help them win the Silver medal in the 200 yard medley relay.

The final of the 200 yard medley relay at the  Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center saw Bucholz trailing in 6th place after the backstroke leg. It would take a great leg by Brandon to move them back into medal contention. He provided just that leg with a 25.91 split. That time was the third fastest leg in 4A State Championships  final history. That brought the team to third and gave anchor Julian Hill to challenge for the Gold. The total team was 1:33.70 earning them the Silver just behind Lake Brantley in 1:33.61. The team performance was also best the time done by Bucholz at the State Championships. This is the second consecutive Silver medal for the school as they placed second in 2017 in 1:33.99.

Brandon Cheong Carifta 2018 Mike C Lyn
Brandon racing towards 50 metre breaststroke Silver at CARIFTA 2018 Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

Brandon had been having a great year in this distance as he won Silver medals in the 50 metre breaststroke at both the CARIFTA Championships in Kingston Jamaica and at home in Aruba for the CCCAN Championships with times of 30.38 and 30 .23.

Silver medallist in the 50 metre breaststroke Brandon cheong and Jamaica's Cameron Brown
Joint Silver medallists in the 15-17 age group at the 2018 CCCAN Championships in Aruba Jamaica’s Cameron Brown and Brandon Cheong Photo courtesy of CCCAN

There would be another Silver medal  for Cheong and his school mates in the 400 yard freestyle relay. The team moved from 4th in 2017 to second place in 2018 with a total team  time of 3:07.30. Cheong also recorded his best split at the State Championships with a third leg effort of 48.53.

In the 50 yard freestyle he recorded a personal best of 21.81 in the heats to make the B final. In that race he stopped the clock in 22.02 to place 6th his best performance at the Championships.  The 100 yard breaststroke saw him recording a season best of 58.49 in the heats before placing 4th in the B final in 59.66.

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Brandon he gave this assessment of the 200 yard medley relay

Brandon Cheong
Brandon Cheong

“Honestly I had an amazing teammates this season, it wasn’t just me who had a great effect on the relay. My teammates made an awesome role for making states and we earned second place in the 200 yard medley relay. When I stepped on the block I knew I had to step up for my guys to win in the 200 medley relay. I’ve actually felt great in the water, I was mainly focusing on my turns, stroke and my underwater. When I touched the wall I saw the 25.91, I was actually shocked to go below 26 seconds in the 50 breaststroke. After I got out of the water I was supporting my teammates as loud as possible”.





Jamaica’s Gabrianna Banks continued her upward trajectory in swimming with a strong performance at the Florida High School Athletic Association 4A swimming Championships on Saturday Nov 10 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatics Athletic Center in Stuart Florida. Competing for the Cypress Bay School from Weston Florida.


Gabriann Banks in relay action UANA Cup M Lyn
Gabrianna Banks in flight during a relay takeover at the UANA Cup Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Competing in her lone individual event the 50 yard freestyle Banks lowered her personal best of  23.88 set in 2017 to 23.67  to make her first ever high school Championship final.  She would display even more speed leading off the 200 yard freestyle relay team. Banks stroked her way to a time of 23.53 and helped the team to a time 1:39.04  to make the consolation final.

In the Championship final of the 50 yard freestyle she was again faster than her old PB of 23.88 when she stopped the clock in 23.79 to place 8th. This is the first time a female swimmer from Cypress Bay has made the Championship final of the 50 yard freestyle since Tiffany Oliver accomplished the feat in the 2007-2008 season.

cypress bay
Young ladies of the Cypress Bay team from left to right Paige Lane, Bnaks,Daniela Kim, Emily Lopez-Diaz and Ellie Koch


In the B final of the 200 yard freestyle relay Banks rocketed to the fastest opening lead leg of the race of 23.75. That gave her team an advantage of more than a second . That allowed teammates Paige Lane 24.40,Emily Lopez-Diaz 24.84 and Ellie Koch 24.52  to record a total team time of 1:37.51 of more than a second ahead of second placed Countryside. That is also the fastest time recorded by Cypress Bay since the 2006 -2007 team recorded a time of 1:37.79.

Comparison of teams

First leg Gabrianna Banks 23.75 Tiffany Oliver 24.54
Second leg Paige Lane 24.40 Jennifer Marquez 24.34
Third leg Emily Lopez-Diaz 24.84 Emily Kasmer 24.33
Fourth leg Ellie Koch 24.52 Ileana Lucos 24.58
Total Time 1:37.51 1:37.79

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Banks she gave her thoughts on her States performance

“I had a really good time at States.Cheering for my teammates and racing my competitors always gives me a sense of motivation. I went a personal best of 23.53.I always love racing with my teammates and relays are always to capture that moment so I was not suprised I was able to go that time. I am very thankful and fortunate to have such a supportive team that will stand together and uphold one another through everything”.

Mixed 15-17 mixed 200 free relay
Jamaica’s Bronze medal winning mixed 200 metre freestyle relay team from left to right Vale,Renuart, Marsh and Banks Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Banks has built quite an impressive resume with relays teams for Jamaica this year. At the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida this year she along with teammates Shaun Johnson, Jesse Marsh and Nicholas Vale would set a new mixed 200 metre freestyle senior national and 15-17 record of 1:43.70 in a fourth place effort . At the CCCAN Championships in Aruba this past summer with Bryanna Renuart stepping in for Johnson the team would lower that to 1:42.81 for the Bronze medal.

15-17 gold medallists
15-17 Gold medallists from left to right Eaton ,Johnson, Banks and Anderson Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

There would also be a record setting performance at CARIFTA in Kingston in the girls 200 metre freestyle relay as Johnson and Banks teamed with Naomi Eaton and Brianna Anderson to win Gold in a new 15-17 age group record of 1:48.42.

15-17 50 metre freestyle medallists
Girls 15-17 50 metre freestyle medallists from left to right Banks,Moore and Russell Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Also in Aruba Banks would win the Silver medal in the girls 50 metre freestyle under the PAN AM Games B standard of 27.44.  Banks is a member of  a strong age group cohort that Jamaica will depend on for leadership and quick times at CARIFTA and CCCAN for 2019 and possibly a PAN AM Games relay berth.


The 2018 Dean Martin Memorial swim promised to be an exciting three days of swimming action  and the first session held at the National Aquatic Centre did not disappoint. Leading the way on night one of action was young sensation from the Camana Bay Aquatics Club from the Cayman Islands Jillian Crooks.

Her last competitive outing saw her  smashing eight national records including a senior national record in the 25 metre pool. The question now was could she transfer her short course form to the big pool (50 metre ) .Question asked Answer EASILY.

In her very first event the 100 metre backstroke she produced a new PB, meet record and 11-12 Cayman national record swim and the fastest time ever swum by an 11-12 girl in Jamaica of 1:08.40. That was the only sub 1:10 swim of the day and  also the fastest female performance ever at meet. With splits of 33.43 and 35.95 Jillian proved herself a class a part.

Tyla Martin
Tyla Martin Photo courtesy of pinecrestswimming.com

She has also shown much improvement as the youngest swimmer in the Championship final of this event at CARIFTA in Kingston earlier this year  she had placed 5th in 1:15.71. The old national record of 1:10.45 has already belonged to Jillian from her CCCAN  Silver medal winning performance. The old meet record belonged to Jamaican age group star Angara Sinclair at 1:14.97.The previous fastest ever mark by an 11-12 girl was held by Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyla Martin who won Gold in that age group at CARIFTA 2010

Morgan and Jillian
Top 11-12 swimmers in the 200 metre IM from left to right Morgan Cogle of the Jupiter Dragon USA and Jillian Crooks of Camana Bay Aquatics Cayman Islands Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

In her next race on the night she would destroy another Cayman 11-12 age group record in the 200 metre individual medley. At the 2018 CCCAN Championships in Aruba  she won the Silver medal in a time of 2:36.70. After she swum the race it would become part of history as she clocked the  only sub 2:40 time time on the night and the fastest ever female performance at the meet of 2:34.88. The old 11-12 record of 2:42.65 belonged to another Jamaican age group star Victoria Ho. An aggressive opening butterfly leg changed the course of the race and allowed her to win easily.

200 IM CCCAN Dean Martin
butterfly 32.72 30.98
backstroke 39.67 41.10
breaststroke 48.97 46.91
freestyle 35.34 35.89
Total Time 2:36.70 2:34.88


Second in the 11-12 age group was Jamaican age group star and 2018 CCCAN Bronze medallist in the event Morgan Cogle of Jupiter Dragons who stopped the clock in 2:43.81.

Zarek Dean
Zarek Wilson of the Blue Dolphins Swim Club Trinidad and Tobago Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

There would be another quality performance in the 11-12 age group as CARIFTA’s top 11-12 male swimmer Zarek Wilson of Blue Dolphins of Trinidad and Tobago won the 1500 metre freestyle in 18:24.66 . That shattered the previous fastest 1500 metre freestyle of 18:51.65 set by Zachary Moore of the Stingrays Swim Club in 2015. He also produced the fastest time across all age groups on the night.He would also set a new mark in the 11-12 200 metre individual medley as he became the first 11-12 swimmer under 2:30 seconds at the meet with a top age group time of 2:28.86

Daniel Mair
Daniel Mair of the Tornadoes Swim Club Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

Jamaica’s first CCCAN open water medallist  Daniel Mair  of the Tornadoes Swim Club dropped more than 10 seconds to place second overall in the 11-12 age group with a time of 19:04.69.

Britney Williams Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

Jamaica’s 2018 15-17 CARIFTA Championship Gold Medallist in the 200 metre freestyle Britney Williams lowered the 15-16 age group meet record in the 100 metre backstroke.The Swimaz aquatics athlete touched the wall in a time of 1:15.16 .That bettered the old meet record held by Angara Sinclair of 1:16.01.

Kyle Dean Martin
Kyle Sinclair Y Speedos Swim Club Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

There would be an exciting battle in the 15-16 10 metre backstroke as Kyle Sinclair of the Y Speedos and and a member of the 15-17 2018 CARIFTA 200 freestyle team that set the Jamaican age group record in the event and Jordan Crooks,2018 Youth Olympics flag bearer of the Cayman Islands and Camana Bay Aquatics went stroke for stroke to the wall . Sinclair got the victory in 1:03.75 and Jordan a touch behind in 1.03.98.











There will be more international talent on display at this year’s edition of the Dean Martin Memorial meet at the National Aquatic Centre (50 metre pool) in Kingston Jamaica as siblings Jillian and Jordan Crooks will be representing Camana Bay Aquatics Bay Club from the Cayman Islands. Brother Jordan is coming from a successful 2018 Youth Olympics Games campaign today draftingthecaribbean will feature sister Jillian .

As the year has gone on Jillian has put in faster and faster performances in the pool. At her most recent meet the CBAC Fall meet from the 12th to the 14th she set eight new short course metres national age group records at the  Camana Bay Sports Complex

Event Time
50 metre butterfly 29.20
50 metre freestyle 27.05
100 metre backstroke 1:06.77
100 metre butterfly 1:05.59
200 metre butterfly 2:31.33
100 metre individual medley 1:10.51
100 metre breaststroke 1:23.18
200 metre freestyle 2:14.31

The 50 metre butterfly also doubled as the senior record . The previous record of 29.24 was held by Cayman Islands standout and current Florida State University freshman Lauren Hew.

Crooks after 50 heats at CCCAN
Jillian Crooks exiting the pool after the heats of the 50 metre freestyle at CCCAN Photo courtesy of CCCAN

Jillian has seen constant improvement since her first regional outing in 2018 at the UANA swimming Cup in Coral Springs in January. One of those events is the 50 metre freestyle where her last long course meet saw her producing a new 11-12 national record of 27.25 which is faster than the meet record of 27.70 held by Jamaican standout Emily MacDonald

Meet Time Place
UANA 30.52 14th
CARIFTA 28.72 4th
CCCAN 27.46 Gold CR
TYR meet 27.25 Gold NR

In the 100 metre freestyle fans on hand at the meet may see not only a new meet record but also the fastest 11-12 girls time produced on Jamaica.This as her personal best and Cayman National record stands at 59.93 , a time that few in the region at her age have ever swum. The meet record stands to MacDonald at 1:01.66 and the Jamaica best time 1:00.06 to Bermuda’s Elan Daley when she Gold in the event at CARIFTA here in Kingston earlier this year.Crooks won the CCCAN title in 1:01.72.

thumbnail_Crooks CCCAn warmup
Jillian in the marshalling area at CCCAN Photo courtesy of CCCAN

Another meet record that looks to be on borrowed time is the 11-12 100 metre butterfly of 1:08.85 .Jillian has a personal best and national record time of 1:06.87. She recorded that when winning the CCCAN title in Aruba this summer.The Jamaica best time may also be on the cards as the Elan Daley standard from CARIFTA is 1:05.98.

The  meet record  in the 11-12 100 metre backstroke stands at 1:14.97 and Jillian boasts a best time of 1:10.45 which is also a national age group record. She will also be vying to record the fastest time record at the meet as the fastest overall female time of 1:13.72  was recorded last year by Brianna Anderson in the 13-14 age group.

Other meet standards under threat by Jillian are

Event Time Meet record
200 metre freestyle 2:16.95 2:19.16
200 metre backstroke 2:33.98 2:42.95
200 metre Individual medley 2:36.70 2:42.65


Crooks is not stranger to Jamaica having set four 10 and under records last year. Her improvement can be seen in the sport as her 200 metre freestyle record time last year was 2:31.43.

thumbnail_cogle and crooks cccan day 3 cccan
CCCAN 11-12 200 metre freestyle podium from left to Zoe Anthony Trindad and Tobago Silver medallist, Morgan Cogle Jamaica Gold medallist and Crooks Cayman Islands Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of CCCAN

The three days of action from October 26 to 28 should be quite interesting as Crooks will be trading strokes with Morgan Cogle of Jupiter Sea Dragons from Florida who she has shared the podium with at CCCAN and CARIFTA this year in a number of races . That duo along will a strong local contingent including Safiya Officer, the CCCAN 50 metre freestyle Bronze medallist  will ensure that the races are entertaining.


Like his 50 metre freestyle at the CCCAN Championships in Aruba things have been moving fast for the Cayman Islands Jordan Crooks. In the latter part of this year  he has recorded the fastest 50 metre freestyle by a Cayman Islands swimmer at CCCAN since Shaune Fraser competed at the 2005 edition of the Championships in the Dominican Republic, he has been selected to be the lone swimmer to represent his nation in swimming as well as being given the honour of the official flag bearer at the opening ceremony.

In a recent interview on Jamaican radio on Nationwide 90 FM’s flagship sports programme Sportsnation Live on September 29 he described his feelings leading up to the Games

“I think I just have to have fun and not worry about it and not stress about it. Some times I overthink the race and it does not happen like I would want it to.So I just have to relax because I have done everything to prepare now I just have to do it”.

In Aruba at CCCAN during the heats of the boys 15-17 50 metre freestyle Jordan had a massive time drop. Heading to the Championships his best stood at 25.20, that would be distant memory after his morning as he lowered his PR by over a second to record a time  of 23.96.That swim not only gave him a Youth Olympics Cut but also under the Pan American B time of 24.07. That swim announced Crooks as a name to be mentioned in the conversation with the top  age group regional sprinters.


Jordan posing at block
Jordan Crooks

Crooks will be competing in the 50 metre freestyle today and the 100 metre freestyle on Thursday October 11.

Lara Butler
 Olympian Lara Butler Photo courtesy of http://www.ciasa.ky

Jordan’s participation in swimming at the Games marks a return to swimming for the Cayman Islands as there was no representation in 2014. In the inaugural competition in 2010 in Singapore there were two swimmers who competed,Seiji Groome and Olympian Lara Butler.



Madelyn Moore , the fastest female swimmer from Bermuda is excited and ready to race in Buenos Aires , Argentina. The speedster will be racing in the 100 metre freestyle Monday October 8, the 50 metre butterfly on Tuesday October 9 ,the 50 metre backstroke on Wednesday October 10, the 50 metre freestyle on Thursday October 11.

Madelyn Moore with the Usain Bolt pose
Madelyn Moore with the Usain Bolt pose Photo courtesy of Sharks Swim Club Bermuda


Moore holds the 17-18 and senior national record in the 50 metre freestyle with a time of 25.95 on May 6 at the Southwest Summer Championships in the United Kingdom. Breaking the the 26 seconds barrier is a significant achievement for a junior swimmer. Moore who is a freshman at the University of Northern Colorado spoke to draftingthecaribbean on Saturday October 6.

“The swimming facilities here in Argentina are exceptional. I am having a good time so far. I have enjoyed settling into the village and seeing old friends and finally I can’t wait for the the meet to begin”.

Moore is a seasoned campaigner at top level international junior competitions having swum at the 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii, the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas and the 2017 world Junior Swimming championships in  Indianapolis, United States.

Madelyn 15-17
CCCAN Championships 15-17 50 metre freestyle from left to right Gabrianna Banks Jamaica Bronze medallist, Moore Gold and Victoria Russell The Bahamas Silver medallist Photo courtesy of C.C.C.A.N

At the 2018 CCCAN Championships she equalled her senior national record in the 50 metre freestyle with yet another 25.97 showing.Moore would also take the one lap crowns in the butterfly and backstroke with times of 28.13 and 30.23 .She would would win the Silver in the 100 metre freestyle in 58.40.

Madelyn enters the Youth Olympic Games in good form . At her senior national debut at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia she earned second swims in all her events. The 50 metre freestyle saw her placing 8th in the Championship final with a 26.09. She would leave Barranquilla with personal bests in the 100 metre freestyle 58.09, the 50 metre backstroke 30.09 and the 50 metre butterfly 28.10 respectively.

This will be second Youth Olympic Games that Bermuda will be competing in the swimming. She is the first female to compete in the sport for Bermuda. Team Bermuda is completed by teammate Kai Legband and Coach Ben Smith.


The CARIFTA Region has a good history at the Summer Youth Olympic Games with the talented swimmers performing well at the competition. One of those gifted athletes who will be displaying their skills in Buenos Aires Argentina is  Aruban rising star Anahi Schreuders

Anahi will be capping a very successful final year as a junior swimmer when she competes in the sprint breaststroke events. She will dive into the water in the 50 metre event on Sunday October 7 and the 100 metre race on Tuesday October 9.

She has been having a successful campaign in these events at the major Championships for the calendar year. At the CARIFTA championships in Kingston Jamaica in the 15-17 age group she set  a personal best of 1:15.82 to take the Bronze in the 100 and was just off her personal standard in the 50 to take the Silver in 33.82.

anahi at CCCAN
Anahi posing with 50 metre breaststroke Silver at the CCCAN Championships Photo courtesy of C.C.C.A.N

In her quest for excellence and competing in front of her home crowd in Aruba at the CCCAN Championships she would be even faster.She would retain her Silver medal in the 15-17 breaststroke but with a new personal best of 33.43 compared to the 34.02 recorded in Trinidad and Tobago a year earlier.

Anahi during the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke
Anahi concentrating before the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke at the CAC Games Photo courtesy of Comite Olimpico Arubano

There would be more personal bests in store as well as Aruban records. Making her senior national debut at the Central American and Caribbean records in Barranquilla Colombia.She would make her first Championship final when she became the first swimmer from Aruba under 33 seconds with a time of 32.98. She would place sixth in the final in the second fastest of her career of 33.33.

There would be another senior national record in the 100 metre breaststroke as she lowered her personal best in the morning heats to 1:14.02 to make the B Final. In that race she showed great speed endurance to have the fastest closing 50 metres of 38.50 to take the win 1:13.24. That equalled the 2009 record set by Ashley Groters at the Rome World Championships.

Anahi and Coach
Coach Ismael Santisesteban Espinsona and Anahi

Schreuders indicated to draftingthecaribbean that training heading into the Games has been going well .With that in mind one can expect more good performances from Anahi.

Daniella Van Den Berg Photo courtesy of seminoles.com

Past representatives for Aruba at the Summer Youth Olympics were Jonathan Ponson and Saskia Postma in 2010 in Singapore and Jordy Groters and Daniella van den Berg in 2014 in China.


With the major regional competitions completed for the year Zarek Wilson of Team Trinidad and Tobago (Team TTO) rose from the ranks to dominate the region in the 11-12 age group.

Zarek doing land training
Zarek in dryland training Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson


His excellent run of form started at the inaugural UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida in late January.Fittingly he opened the CARIFTA region’s account when he took the Bronze in the 400 metre freestyle in a time of 4:33.49. That was the first medal of an opening triple medal winning performance that included the CARIFTA best performance in the 200 individual medley of a Bronze in  2:31.50 and ending with with another regional standard performance of 27.32 in the 50 metre freestyle to claim another Bronze.

The second day of swimming action saw him with another triple medal winning performance and also opening the Gold medal for Team TTO in the the 100 metre backstroke in time of 1:07.63 which stands as a new championship record. That Gold was accompanied with two Bronze in the 100 metre butterfly 1:03.48 and 200 metre freestyle 2:09.05 another Regional best performance.

Zarek with 8 medals
Zarek Wilson with his Eight medals won at the UANA Cup

The final day of competition saw the Wilson completing the backstroke sprint double taking the 50 metre event in 30.20 . He completed his medal tally with Silver in the 100 metre freestyle in a CARIFTA region best placing of 58.20.

11-12 high point trophy winner Zarek wilson recieving trophy UANA M Lyn
Zarek Wilson being presented with the 11-12 high point trophy Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

His versatility  and mental strength over the three days in colder conditions led him to being awarded the high point award for the 11-12 age group amassing 61 points.


In Jamaica at the CARIFTA championships late March and early April he lead a powerhouse 11-12 contingent from Team TTO that was the engine behind their overall placing of second on the medal table.

Zarek Wilson
Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

It would also be his most dominant performance of the year winning 12 Gold medals and a Silver.

Event Time Place
100 metre freestyle 58.89 Gold
200 metre freestyle 2:07.03 Gold
400 metre freestyle 4:27.78 Gold CR
50 metre backstroke 30.59 Gold
100 metre backstroke 1:06.68 Gold
100 metre butterfly 1:05.06 Silver
200 metre IM 2:24.93 Gold
400 metre IM 5:10.41 Gold
200 metre butterfly 2:23.22 Gold
200 metre backstroke 2:29.92 Gold
400  metre freestyle relay 4:06.84 Gold
400 metre medley relay 4:44.35 /heats 4:38.35 Gold
200 metre freestyle relay 1:50.06 Gold

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

Such was his conditioning all 13 races medal yielded a near perfect medal performance. In addition to topping the 11-12 age group top performer with  he also won the Landon Von Kanel trophy for winning the 200 and  400 metre freestyle.

The CCCAN championships in Aruba this summer saw strong competition from Guatemala and The Dominican Republic Wilson still withstood this to win 10 medals Seven  Gold and Three Silver. Zarek would complete Regional Golden Doubles in the 400, 200 metre freestyle and 200 metre IM events. He would have no equal in the sprint backstroke events at UANA,CARIFTA and CCCAN. His leadership would again lead the Team TTO Youth Brigade to overall age group titles for both the girls and boys.

Zarek and Nikoli
Zarek and CCCAN 11-12 open water star and fellow top performer for Team TTO Nikoli Blackman enjoying down time after a successful season of national team representation Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

The boys total of 201 points were more than double the second placed country and the most points tallied across the four age groups 11-12,13-14 , 15-17 and 18 and over.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Zarek on July 10 he spoke about the CCCAN and championships and his preparation for the 13-14 age group

“CCCAN 2018 in Aruba was a continuation of my learning experience as a competitive swimmer. I believe I showed some growth and achieved many of my goals. Even the events that I fell short in provided valuable experience which will also serve as motivation going forward. The highlights for me were the 400 freestyle and the 200 butterfly. In the 400 freestyle I was able to execute the race just the way my coach, Edmund Pouchet, suggested. Even though I won silvers in the 100 (1:02.18) and 200 (2:21.11) butterfly events, they were both personal bests with the 200 fly being a new national record. I am encouraged by the times that I swam. After a short break I will sit down with Coach Pouchet and begin preparations for the next two years in the 13-14 age group. I am thankful to God and everyone, (family, coaches, teammates, and supporters), especially those who are there when the lights are not shining brightly”.


Zarek and Coach edmund
Zarek and Coach Edmund Pouchet Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Zarek is a Form 2 student of the Presentation College in San Fernando. He trains with the Blue Dolphin Swim Club at the St Mary’s College in Port of  Spain which is a 65km commute one way. Draftingthecaribbean had the opportunity to speak with his coach Edmund Pouchet on Sep 25 about how he conditions Zarek and his performance at the major meets this year , what he needs to do step up his training and the approach that should be taken to age group swimming.

He said that Zarek performed well this season . He swam a full schedule and that takes a lot of conditioning. Zarek has  nine sessions per week which includes four morning sessions.

Zarek and Land trainng 2
Zarek running through drills during dry land training Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Coach Edmund said that work load will need to step up by one session entering the 13-14 age group.At this time of the season the work is mainly aerobic .Medley work twice a week,Stroke work twice a week. Mornings sets would be around 4,000 metres and the afternoons 7,000 metres in the afternoons.

Zarek in the water
Wilson completing a training set during an afternoon workout Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

There is one sprint session session per week to keep the swimmers sharp. More sprint sessions will be added as the target for aerobic work has been met but still maintaining the aerobic base.

Coach Edmund also stressed that in the development of age group swimmers there needs to be a focus on building the aerobic base. Swimmers should mainly  be doing 200, 400 races and up as this is central to their development. Coach Edmund who has more than three decades of coaching experience believes in the mantra “put in the work and you will get the results”. He has seen clearly over the years of coaching that there is no shortcut to success and coaches must build their swimmers so when they leave a programme they are able to handle the workload in a collegiate programme.

Zarek will be one of the leading lights Team TTO will be looking to step up for the Republic when he enters the more competitive 13-14 age group