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