Jamaica’s Michael Gunning continued to show that he is one of the next wave of Jamaican stars looking to impress in senior international waters at the Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and World Short Course Championships in 2018 with another series of record breaking performances over the weekend.


Competing at the Stockport Metro November Open Meet this past weekend contested over short course metres (25 metre pool) he took down the  400 metre freestyle record and crushed his 200 metre butterfly set a little over week ago . He has set those records in the midst of heavy training schedule which means when he is fully shaved, rested and tapered one can expect him to go much faster in both the 25 metre pool and 50 metre pool when called upon to represent the island in international competitions.

Jamaica WUG
Michael representing Jamaica at the World University Games in Taipei

Gunning, who has represented Jamaica in at the 2017 World Championships and the 2017 World University Games placed 3rd in the 400 metre freestyle in a time of 3:53.08

Analysis of swim

First 100 54.83
Second 100 58.40
Third 100 59.37
Fourth 100 1:00.48
Total time 3:53.08

That lowered the 3:54.26 by distance King Dominic Walter when he represented the McMaster University in a Silver medal winning performance at the 2016 Ontario University Athletics Championships. Gunning completed yet another national record double as he now owns both the short course and national records in the event.

400 metre freestyle 3:53.08 3:57.70

Michael only participated in the Saturday session of the  three day meet as he revealed to draftingthecaribbean “I only swam as I’m so broken from training I did not want to run myself into the ground” which speaks to the intensity of his workouts at this time of the season.

gunning fly
Michael Gunning 200 metre butterfly record swim

Despite that he managed to crush his 200 metre butterfly national record of 2:05.12 with a Silver medal winning performance of 2:00.07. Michael was just edged for the Gold by Jacob Jackson of Ellesmere who recorded a time of 1:59.75.

Comparison of national record swims

First 100 58.00 59.28
Second 100 1:02.07 1:05.84
Total time 2:00.07 2:05.12
gunning profile pic
Michael Gunning

Draftingthecaribean spoke to Michael and got his thoughts about his performances

“I’m absolutely tired from racing every weekend but it’s great to see all my hard work is paying off and I’m managing to transfer all my skills from training and see the benefits coming together when I race. I was overjoyed to see how much I had broken those new Jamaican Records by as I didn’t expect to be swimming too fast right now in this block of work. It’s great to see that the Jamaican Swimming History is getting stronger and I’m so honoured that I get to be a part of it. It’s truly heart-warming to see how much encouragement and support I’ve received over the past year I can’t wait to see what’s to come leading into next year, as it’s a really exciting  time for both me and Jamaican swimming”.

Michael Gunning funky trunks
Michael Gunning Photo courtesy of funkytrunks.com

The Stockport swimmer owns the national records in the 50 metre pool in the 200 metre butterfly and 200 metre freestyle at 1:59.83 and 1:50.00. He boasts a personal best of 55.10 in the 100 metre butterfly since donning the Jamaican national colours. Those times would give him the following placings at the last three Commonwealth Games.

Event 2014 2010 2006
200 metre freestyle 12th 13th 7th
400 metre freestyle 18th 15th 13th
100 metre butterfly 17th 12th 12th
200 metre butterfly 12th 11th 5th

Michael is a part of a Jamaica’s next generation of swimmers that includes and is not limited to names such as Nico Campbell, Justin Plaschka, Keanan Dols, Kelsie Campbell, Breanna Roman and Bryanna Renuart. Queen of the pack remains Alia Atkinson and she will seek to lead the Jamaican delegation for the third time. The country continues to improve in the quality and depth of swimming at the senior level.  In 2006 the island sent 3 swimmers to the Melbourne Games, in 2010 3 went to Delhi India and in 2014 6 went to Glasgow Scotland.



Gunning on way to breaking national freestyle mark
Michael Gunning on his way to a new national record in the 200 scm freestyle


Michael Gunning pressed his case for inclusion on the 2018 Commonwealth Games team when he lowered the national records in the 200 metre butterfly and 200 metre freestyle at the British University and College Sports Short Course Swimming Championships held from November 10 to 12.

The meet held in a 25 metre pool at the Ponds Forge in Sheffield saw the University of East London student qualifying for the 200 metre freestyle with a time of 1:50.71. The final would see him finishing 4th in a new personal best time of 1:48.28.

Gunning reacts to setting new national record
Gunning reacts to his new national record


That swim, which is his best placing at the Championship, bettered the previous national record of 1:49.11 by distance king Dominic Walter. Dominic had set the previous mark at the Canadian Inter university Championships on February 26, 2016.

Analysis of national records swims by Gunning and Walters

Gunning Walter
25.40 25.80
27.09 27.46
27.85 28.06
27.94 27.79
1:48.28 1:49.11


With that championship final performance Gunning now owns the national records in the both the short course and long course (50 metre pool) .The long course record stands at 1:50.00  set at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest Hungary this past summer.


Michael would not be finished with his record breaking exploits as he lowered another Walter standard, this time in the 200 metre butterfly. He finished 11th in the event in a time of 2:05.12 (split time 59.28). His swim lowered the 2:05.55  Walter recorded on Feb 7, 2013 at the Ontario University Championships. With that swim he again achieved the national record double in both 25 metre and long course formats.

Gunning fly
Michael Gunning in his record breaking swim in April

Michael’s long course metre record stands at 1:59.83 from the British Championships held on April 19 of this year.

He also competed in the 100 metre butterfly where he placed 21st in a time of 56.61 (split time 26.48)

When draftingthecaribbean spoke the Early Childhood Studies Major today he spoke about his record swims and his quest for Commonwealth Games qualification

“I’m over the moon to break those records last weekend!!I’m still in the middle of my hardest cycle yet and to break those records whilst feeling this tired and fatigued it makes me super excited to see what’s to come. My coach and I have sat down and we are trying to compete at lots of different competitions and race in different events whilst I’m tired as it’s all to get my body use to stepping up when it matters most no matter how tired I am, so when it comes to the Commonwealth Games next year when I am fresh and rested it will come natural to me”.

Michael is seeking to be a part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Team. In 2014 Jamaica was represented by Six swimmers Three women and Three Men .That squad had Eight top 16 performances  including medals  a Silver and a Bronze won by Atkinson in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke races. With Jamaican swimming improving since 2014 a team of the same size at least should be expected . The 2018 squad should see  Commonwealth Games record holder  Alia Atkinson in action in Melbourne . Other hopefuls for the team include

Women Men
Breanna Roman Nico Campbell
Kelsie Campbell Xavier Phillips
Sidrell Williams
Bryce Butler
Joseph Black
Keanan Dols


Halfway through the 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup Jamaica’s World Record in the 50 scm breaststroke Alia Atkinson seems well on her way to complete the tour undefeated in that event.

Alia Hong Kong 2
Alia Atkinson at the Hong Kong FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup.Photo courtesy of fina.org

On Sunday October 1 Atkinson crushed the field by over a second to win the event in a time of 29.26. Second place went to Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen in 30.50 and the Bronze was won by Hong Kong’s Ip Rainbow in 32.50. The Gold medal winning performance marked her 4th consecutive win for the season and 16th straight on the tour. The last time Alia lost this race was Oct 29, 2015. On the 2016 tour Alia competed in 8 of the 9 stops and won all her races.

In 100 scm breaststroke her streak of victories now extends to five. Atkinson reigned supreme from the start with the quickest reaction and the fastest splits for both the first and second 50s.

Reaction time 0.65
First 50 30.14
Second 50 33.95
Final time 1:04.09

Left in her wake by over a second was the Dane Pedersen in 1:05.09 and Canadian Kierra Smith won the Bronze in 1:05.65.

In the longest breaststroke race, the 200scm Atkinson won the Bronze in a time of 2:26.70 (1:09.89).

In the 200 scm individual medley she out split the field on the breaststroke leg with a time of 35.88 to move from 8th to 5th .

Alia making a move on medley
Alia Atkinson making a surge for the the lead in the 200 scm individual medley Photo courtesy of fina.org

Alia would push to the wall to finish 4th in 2:12.34 her fastest time of the season.

Atkinson posted her 3rd fastest time of the season in the 100 scm medley when she finished 4th with a time of 59.57 (split time 28.17).


As this 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup continues Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson is getting faster and faster. On the first day of competition in Eindhoven she let the world know that the 100 scm breaststroke World record of 1:02.36 was in grave danger of being bettered. The same warning was issued in the 50 scm breaststroke.

Alia Atkinson
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of Aurelien Menuuier/Getty Images Europe

In the morning preliminaries at the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium she eased into the Championship final with a time of 29.56. Her 50 scm split time of 29.32 in the 100 scm final yesterday was faster. Her swim was the only sub 30 second clocking as tour rival Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė was more than half a second adrift in 30.13.

The only question would be not who would take Gold but how fast Alia would be in winning the event in the evening.

Alia Atkinson AliAtki
Alia Atkinson Photo taken from@AliAtki

Rūta would have the slightest of lead when she had a reaction time of 0.61 to 0.62.That would be the only lead she would have over the Jamaican as Alia took over the proceedings. She would take the race in a sizzling time of 28.84, the only sub 29 seconds performance . For Atkinson ,who is sponsored by Rainforest Seafoods, GKMS and National Bakery it was the second fastest performance of her career. Only her World record swim of 28.64 in Tokyo last year was faster. It was also the third fastest time ever swum on the World Cup Circuit. The second all-time fastest performance on the circuit being the 28.80 recorded by American Jessica Hardy when she set the World Record in 2009. Atkinson’s win was also her 26th on the tour.

Rivals Rūta and Dane Rikke Møller Pedersen finished with the Silver and Bronze medals in times of 29.57 and 30.25 respectively.

Atkinson ended the day with her second best career performance in the 50 metre butterfly when she placed 8th in the Championship final with a time of 26.03.



The World Record holder in the 100 scm breaststroke Alia Atkinson had given an early warning of things to come on the second stop of the 2017 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup in Moscow when she said she was going to work on putting on the best race technically for this year’s tour . The first day of the Eindhoven leg was near perfection as she came close to her global standard of 1:02.36.


The script could not have been written any better as Eindhoven was the site of her first 100 scm breaststroke  World Cup win on Aug 7,2013 in 1:03.90.Also in the morning heats Alia and her long time tour rival and co world record holder Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė    in the event  touched in the  same exact time  of 1:04.75.

Name heats First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
Rūta Meilutytė August 11,2017 30.37 34.38 1:04.75
Alia Atkinson August 11,2017 30.40 34.35 1:04.75

Alia corporate sponsors 2017.PNG

As draftingthecaribbean had suggested when Alia swims the first 50 metres under 29.50 the World record will come under threat as her finishing speed is greatly improved. In the Championship final there would be no sharing as Atkinson, who is sponsored by Rainforest Seafoods, GKMS and National Bakery, covered the first 50 metres under World record pace as her 50 metres in 29.32.That was more than half a second faster than the chasing Rūta who split the race at 29.90. Her improved stamina was in evidence as she also had the fastest last 50 metres with a clocking of 33.35. Atkinson final time on the scoreboard read 1:02.67. That was Atkinson’s 8th time under 1:03 seconds and the 4th fastest time she has recorded on the World Cup Tour.

Alia getty images Netherlands
Alia Atkinson waves to the crowd after the 100 scm breaststroke at Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Europe

Analysis of World Records swims and the 2017 Eindhoven performance

Venue Date First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
Qatar Dec 6,2014 29.46 32.90 1:02.36
France Aug 26,2016 29.33 33.03 1:02.36
Netherlands Aug 11,2016 29.32 33.35 1:02.67

Silver went to Meilutytė in 1:03.79 and the Bronze to American Breeja Larson in 1:04.81.
Alia had earlier placed 17th in the heats of the 200 scm individual medley in a time of 2:14.94



Monday August 7 was celebrated as a public holiday for the 55th Independence Day for Jamaicans as the 6th of August fell on a Sunday. So after providing 200 scm breaststroke Gold for Independence on the actual day Alia Atkinson provided another emphatic 100 scm breaststroke Gold medal winning performance on the Monday as well.

Alia in Berlin after competition
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA Swimming World Cup – Berlin / Official Fanpage

Atkinson, the World Record holder in the event said she would make adjustments for the second stop of FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2017 tour. Those tweaks almost resulted in a world record. In the heats of the 100 scm breaststroke she was untroubled in posting the second fastest time of the qualifiers of 1:05.71 (30.71). In the finals she set off the fireworks from the starter’s gun. She reacted in a time of 0.62 equalling  her fastest ever World Cup 100 scm breaststroke finals reaction time at the same venue in 2014. The contest for top honours was over by the first 50 metres as she took it out on the field in a time of 29.37, more than half a second of the field in a sprint event.


There has only been two occasions the Jamaican World record holder has gone out that fast on tour and the end of the tour last season in Hong Kong when she had a final time of 1:02.91 and the start of the tour in 2016 when she equalled the world record in 1:02.36.

Her final time would be just off those performances as she stopped the clock in 1:03.16. Her second 50 metres was also the fastest in the field. Silver went to Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen in 1:04.56 .The Bronze was won by Belgian Fanny Lecluyse in a time of 1:05.81. Her win was her best performance in the German capital following Bronze and Silver medal performances in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

Alia wins Silver on Day on in Berlin.JPG

In the 100 scm individual medley Atkinson would line up against the World record holder Hungary’s Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu and Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström who broke two World records in Moscow .Atkinson went out half a second faster than Moscow in a time of 27.86 but was sixth at the 50 metre mark. She would put another late race surge with the fastest finishing 50 metres of 30.26 to get the Bronze in a time of 58.12. The performance is not far off her national record of 57.84.It was also much better than the 59.55 she recorded in Moscow. That is the 2nd best time Alia has recorded on the World Cup tour and the best result in the event in Berlin bettering a Bronze medal winning effort in 2014.

Analysis of national record swim and 2017 tour races

Meet Date First 50 split Last 50 split Final Time
FINA World Cup Paris August 27,2016 27.62 30.22 57.84
FINA World Cup Berlin August 7,2017 27.86 30.26 58.12
FINA World Cup Moscow August 2,2017 28.43 31.12 59.55

Hosszu would take the race in World record Time clocking 56.51 bettering her old 2015 mark of 56.67. The Swede Sjöström won Silver in 57.30


Today August 6, 2017 Jamaica celebrates 55 years of Independence and a highly favoured daughter of the soil, Alia Atkinson delivered a fitting gift to the people of the land of wood and water by winning the 200 scm breaststroke in Berlin today on the second stop of  the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2017.


face off Alia and Pedersen
European record holder Rikke Møller Pedersen and Jamaican record holder Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA Swimming World Cup – Berlin / Official Fanpage

Mere days after posting the second fastest time in her career in the event with a Bronze medal winning performance in Moscow of 2:20.63. Alia came to Germany stating that she had to fine tune aspects of her races and she did that in a big way. She qualified easily again with a time of 2:22.35 .That was almost the same time she did in the  preliminaries at the Moscow  tour when she posted 2:22.07. The European record holder in the 200 scm Rikke Møller Pedersen again topped the qualifiers with a swim of 2:21.87.

In the final it would be again Atkinson, who is the fastest Jamaican, man or woman in all formats of the 200 breaststroke whether it is yards ,scm (short course metres) or lcm ( long course metres) who went out the fastest in 31.65 .That was the same opening 50 metre split in Moscow

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of heppdesigns.com

Alia’s 200 Jamaican 200 breaststroke records

200 scy breaststroke 2:05.63
200 scm breaststroke 2:17.84
200 lcm breaststroke 2:25.48

The Dane went with her in 31.96, just .01 outside of her Russian opening salvo. That is where the similarities to Moscow ended as Pedersen did not overtake the Jamaican at the 100 metre mark .Alia had a slight advantage of 1:07.38 to 1:07.49 at the century point. Rikke would make an even greater press to gain the lead at the 150 mark but Atkinson would not yield but the lead was just .02 , 1:43.27 to 1:43.29.

Alia ready to take on the competition in Rio
Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of adiimages

Seemingly summoning the strength of Jamaica’s lone heroine Nanny of the Maroons Alia put on a final 50 blast of 35.69 to take the Gold in a time of 2:18.96. Silver went to Pedersen in 2:19.52 and the Bronze in 2:19.96 to Fanny Lecluyse of Belgium. That performance and her improved back end speed should put her national record in jeopardy.

Analysis of Moscow and Berlin swims as well as the national record

Venue Date First 50 Second 50 Third 50 Last 50 Final time
Moscow Aug 3,2017 31.65 35.90 36.41 36.67 2:20.63
Berlin Aug 6,2017 31.65 35.73 35.89 35.69 2:18.96
Singapore Nov 2,2014 30.91 34.26 35.44 37.23 2:17.84

In the 50 metre butterfly Alia registered the fourth fastest preliminary time of her world Cup career to place 14th in time of 26.45. Tomorrow’s races will see her competing in the 100 scm individual medley and the 100 scm breaststroke for which she is the reigning World Champion.