STEEL FORGED THROUGH FIRE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S CHERELLE THOMPSON SECURES OLYMPIC B STANDARD IN THE 50 FREE

Perseverance, Faith ,Commitment. These are the words that come to mind that when describing Cherelle Thompson’s aquatic journey. Her calm demeanour belies an unwavering will to succeed.

The year 2019 saw her take down two national sprint freestyle records and now in the first month of 2020 she sees herself writing her ticket for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Last year saw the Eagles Aquatics swimmer moving past the all time national records of Siobhan Cropper set back in the 1990’s.

Siobhan Cropper .Photo courtesy of trinidad.com

In the 25 metre pool she became the first woman from the twin Island Republic under the 25 seconds. In doing so she lowered the former national standard of Cropper of 25.32. Siobhan Cropper set the national mark during the heats of  events 2000 NCAA Division I Championships while competing for Stanford. She would place fifth in the B final with a time of 25.65.

Siobhan Cropper looks at the clock afet her race at the 1998 commonwealth Games Photo courtesy of GettyImages

Cropper is the only swimmer from the CARIFTA region either male or female to lift NCAA Division I crown in the 200 and 400 yard medley relays. She accomplished the feat in her first year of collegiate action with total times of 1:37.80 and 3:33.61 in 1998. She also ended her career with those titles in times of 1:38.43 and 3:32.43 in 2001. The latter performances broke the NCAA,NCAA Championship Record and US Open record she set with her team in 1998 as freshman. Her older brother Dr Andre Cropper was a star swimmer for Howard University during his career from 1981 to 1984

Misty Hyman Olympic Gold medal reaction .Photo courtesy of pinterest

The mainstays on both team were Cropper who handled the anchor freestyle legs and Misty Hyman who shocked the world to win the 200 metre butterfly Gold at the Sydney Olympics.

Anthony Nesty Photo courtesy of olympic.org

The only other swimmers lifting NCAA Division I medley relay Gold are Olympic Gold Medallist Anthony Nesty with the University of Florida in 1991 in the 400 in a time of 3:10.23 and Dylan Carter with his USC Trojans in the shorter medley in 1:21.82.

Historic Trojan Gold medal winning 200 yard medley relay team from left to right Carter,Vissering, Condorelli and Glinta Photo courtesy of uscswim on Instagram

The year 2019 would not close without Cherelle bettering yet another national record. In December she blazed her way to a time of 25.52.That also took down the Cropper mark of 25.89.That record was set at the 1997 edition of the CCCAN Championships.

The fastest swimmers from Trinidad and Tobago for 2019 Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Awards Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain. Photo courtesy of Cherelle Thompson

Draftingthecaribbean spoke to the new Trinidad and Tobago Queen of Speed in early January as she chronicled her journey as the twinIsland Republic’s greatest of all time.

She first spoke to us about the injury that she had that dogged her for a number of years and would have curtailed the ambitions of any athlete

“In January 2012, at the start of my college career, I had surgery to repair a torn labrum and bicep was detached in my right shoulder. It was an overuse injury”.

Thompson swam for the University of Tennessee Volunteers from 2012 to 2016. On Feb 18,2015 she she eclipsed another Cropper standard to become the fastest woman from her country in the 25 yard pool. Cropper set her best yard time as a freshman for the Cardinals at the 1998 NCAA Divison 1 Champs placing eighth in 22.54. Thompson recorded 22.43 in the heats of the SEC Championships.So Thompson is unquestioned all time best in all pools 25 yards, 25 metres and 50 metres.

She also divulged how she managed to recover from that injury setback to be even faster now

“In the years following the surgery I was very careful in the weight room and at practice, giving priority to shoulder health. Technique correction also played a role because mine was an overuse injury. Thankfully, It’s been a few years now since I’ve had any problems with the shoulder really”.

She also speaks to weight training as a sprinter

“I’ve actually been out of the weight room for a year now. We took a risk and focused all my work to the pool work”.

Draftingthecaribbean enquired about a typical week and what the technical aspects of  her national record breaking exploit at the meet in December

“I swim once per day Mon- Sat. Calisthenics 3x weekly and cycling mixed in once or twice depending on the week. In this race I didn’t quite nail the breakout that I wanted- a sleek but powerful transition through the surface but stroke rate and underwater kicks have come a long way since July, my last long course race”.

We also asked her about her faith in this journey to the top

“There is something I say to myself both in training and before races that serves as a psychological cue for my body to get into race mode.  “Time to JUMP” meaning Jesus Undertake My Plans. I strongly believe that it without the many prayers prayed before practice sessions and for my shoulder, my return to competitive swimming would not have been as successful or meaningful as it is now. My faith in God has allowed me to have a purpose much bigger than myself and I’m excited to see how He undertakes my plans for the next 6months”.

With every great performance there is a team and she spoke about them as well

“Too many to name but core members include my coaches, family and friends a couple of whom are former T&T Olympians for swimming. The extended support group include those who have support my fundraisers in aid of training and competition expenses. I am so grateful for them…..even the local market vendors”.

What adjustments did you make from to get from the 26s consistently to record pace.

“I benefitted alot from the increased race pace training and attention to my start work (underwater and breakout) I’m glad to say that there is still alot more areas to improve”.

Would competing at the US TYR Swim Series and FINA World Cup help you to sharpen up for the Olympics?

“Most definitely! These meets would help sharpen my preparation both intrinsically and extrinsically. First because I could really benefit from the experience of competing among stiff competition and sharpening my race strategy overall. The latter, because the exposure to the higher level competition would also prepare me for the environment expected at the Games Venue”.

What are your thoughts in pushing for more senior relays to include mixed relays to try for 2020? Even if you don’t get in the top 16 what do you think about those efforts to raise the profile of swimming more relays at senior meets and making a concerted relay push for 2024 and other Games in that new Olympic Cycle?

“Relays are always alot of fun and mixed relays that much more. The way I would like to see this done is by the elevation of the level of swimming across the board as opposed to just making up numbers for representation. My hope is that I would inspire the longevity of the swimming career for more senior swimmers and have a competitive relay team representing our country in 2024”.

Cherelle in her days at Tennesse. Photo courtesy of Bruce Petersen

Since that time Thompson has lowered the national mark once again but also bettered the Olympic B standard of 25.51. This national effort would come at her old University Pool The Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Centre in Tennessee on Sunday January 19 at the TYR Pro Swim Series Knoxville.

We caught up with her coach Stephen Mendoza on the the same and got his reaction to his charge’s  Olympic and  national record breaking feat and the way forward

“I am elated. I cannot put into words the joy I feel.  We had a plan to make the B standard in December at the ASATT meet  but we were satisfied with her performance. We will enter a high quality meet the TYR Pro Swim Series meet until the month of May. We also will compete in two local meets.

He also spoke to some of the team Cherelle has around her.

Women of Olympic Speed from left to right Thompson Tokyo bound, Karen Dieffenthaller Donahue 1988 Seoul, Sharntelle McLean 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing.Photo courtesy of Cherelle Thompson

“ I do not think all the knowledge lies within me and we have on board technical consultant Franz Pouchet along with coaches (with experience at the NCAA Division I ) Olympian Sharntelle McLean (past student of the University of South Carolina , home to current star Bahamian Albury Higgs and Christian Homer (2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist and former Florida Gator). Persons who have her best interests at heart.We also have nutritionists among others”.

Mendoza manages the process and said no expense had been spared in helping her progression.

Christian Homer Photo courtesy of floridagators.com

In terms of training Cherelle he has been working in short micro cycles . Working on her aerobic base, translating that to power and transferring that power to speed in the pool. If sprinting is a game of inches propelling Cherelle will come in increments. In December 25.52 was the base with yet another  national record effort 25.39 is the new base. Mendoza said breaking down the race into discrete segments has been the game plan and there has no weight training .This was a conscious decision as Cherelle puts on muscle very quickly and that is not the aim but rather going through the water as quickly as possible.

Thompson gave us her reaction to making the B standard

“It’s exciting and relieving. After having swim the race 3 times here in Knoxville before finally making the cut on the 4th try. And no better place to have done it than my alma mater. My heart is so full being back here”.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of theswimpictures.com
Arianna Vanderpool -WallaceBAH24.312014
Cherelle ThompsonTri25.392020
Alia AtkinsonJAM25.472018
Leah MartindaleBAR25.491996
Allyson PonsonARU25.612019
Natasha MoodieJAM25.762009
Siobhan CropperTRI25.891997
Madelyn MooreBER25.952018

With the swim Cherelle now rockets to second place of all time in the ranking CARIFTA region greats of female sprinters . With these great performances behind her one has to believe sub 24.77 and the stamping of her ticket to Asia is not too far off.

Thompson looks foward to Tokyo 2020

MORE MEDALS FOR ATKINSON IN CHINA AT FINA CHAMPIONS SERIES

Jamaican swimming legend Alia Atkinson continued her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics with more medals at the Beijing leg of the 2020 FINA Champions Series.

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA.org

In the 100 metre breaststroke on January 19 Alia ended her own “Silk Road” journey with Bronze with a time of 1:08.88.The swim earned her USD 6000.00. The effort also represents the fourth fastest time by the Olympian at this time of the season. The Gold stayed at home with local standout Olympian Yu Jingyao taking the win in 1:07.18. Italian Olympian Martina Carraro won the Silver in 1:07.25.

TEST AND ADJUST

The first day of the two day meet on January 18 saw Alia recording her fastest time ever in January of 30.44. This represented a significant time drop from the last leg in Shenzhen where she stopped the clock in 30.63. Commander Atkinson continues to sharpen her skills as she keeps her eyes on the target of a podium place at the Tokyo Olympics. She was out touched at the wall by a fast charging US Olympian Molly Hannis who registered a time of 30.34. Carraro took the Bronze in 30.79.

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA

The Caribbean superstar is the only swimmer, male or female from the region to have won medals in the event in both the long course and short course World Championships. She has one Long course Silver from the 2015 Kazan Championships when she set the current national mark of 30.11. She also has four medals in the 25 metre pool .Three Silver (2012,2014 and 2016) .She won the Gold at the 2018 Championships in Hangzhou. She is also the World record holder for the 25 metre course with a time of 28.56. No other Caribbean swimmer has ever set a World Record in the 50 metre breaststroke event, Atkinson has done it twice.

Alia ended the series with prize money earnings of USD 26,000.

BRONZE FOR ALIA IN THE 100 BREASTSTROKE IN SHENZHEN

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA

Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson will be leaving the Chinese city of Shenzhen USD 12000.00 richer. Earlier today she won yet another Bronze medal at the FINA Champions Series .This time it was  in the 100 metre breaststroke in a time of 1:08.15.That earned her another USD 6000.00.

Italian Martina Carraro took the double as she won the event in a time of 1:06.85.Hometown swimmer Yu Jingyao took the Silver in 1:07.59.

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of fina.org

Atkinson continues to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with her third fastest time ever done in January. In 2016 She had swum times of 1:07.38   and 1:07.47 at the Austin leg of the US based TYR Pro series.

Atkinson’s efforts today  places her 13th in the global standings for the race.

The swimming icon will next be in action from Jan 18-19 in Beijing at the Ying Dong Swimming Natatorium , the site of swimming for the 2008 Olympic Games. She will again contest the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke events.

OLYMPIAN ALIA ATKINSON WINS BRONZE IN CHINA

Olympian Alia Atkinson won Bronze earlier today at the Shenzhen leg of the FINA Champions Series.  Competing in the 50 metre breaststroke Atkinson finished third in a time of 30.63 and won USD 6000. Gold went to Italian Olympian Martina Carraro in 30.38 earning herself USD 10,000. The Silver was won by the American Olympian Molly Hannis in 30.49, she netted for herself USD 8000.00.  Those top three finishes represent the new Global top three swims for the season.

Alia Atkinson

This is the fastest Atkinson has swum in January. Her previous best at this stage of the season was 32.73 in 2012. In that season she had her highest Olympic placing of fourth at the London Games. This 2019/2020 is one first for her and the region as she is the only female swimmer from the Caribbean invited to compete in this Series.

Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of FINA

She was also the only female swimmer invited to compete on a team in the debut season of the International Swimming League for Team Iron.

The meet continues tomorrow with Alia competing in the 100 metre breaststroke. She will battle Carraro again as well as 2016 Olympian  Canadian  Sydney Pickrem and hometown talent Yu Jingyao.

MORLEY MAKES MAJOR MOVE!! LAURA LOWERS 200 BREAST RECORD, SECURES OLYMPIC B STANDARD

At the 2019 US Open held in December Bahamian Laura Morley made a major move to Olympic qualification with a personal best and new national record and an Olympic B standard time in the 200 metre breaststroke .Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice. She stopped the clock in a new all time Bahamian best first in the heats in 2:27.83 in the heats and then later in the Championship final swam to a time of 2:28.38 .The Olympic B standard is 2:29.89. .Laura has now set the senior national record in the event 11 times.

Laura Morley

Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Morley after the competition about competing as a professional swimmer.The last meet of her collegiate career was the NCAA Division I championships in March 2019.Morley ended her college tenure ended as the fourth fastest performer in Indiana school history in the 200 yards breaststroke with a time of 2:08.16.  The  Big Ten Distinguished Scholar gave her thoughts on how life is different as a professional swimmer compared  to college in terms of training and other areas.

“Thankfully Indiana Swimming allowed me to join the professional team after I graduated in May, so I still get to train with the collegiate team but now without school I have a lot more time to focus on recovery, nutrition and swimming as a whole. The transition has been made a lot easier than I expected and a lot of that is due to having the full support of my coaching staff, weight coaches and former teammates. Becoming a pro swimmer has been such an awesome experience because I can truly focus on my swimming goals and have learnt so much about myself since March”.

Morley en route to a new national record and Olympic B qualifying time

She also spoke smashing her 200 metre breaststroke national mark and getting the Olympic B cut, training and her preparations and expectations before the US Open.

 “I was rested and shaved for US Open! I recently swam at the TYR Pro Series meet in Greensboro the weekend of November 9th and swam right on my best times. That was very reassuring and gave me a lot of confidence in my training all fall. We have been putting in a lot of hard training since I got back to Bloomington in September, so getting some rest at US Open was an opportunity for me to see where my hard training has taken me. I have been working towards getting the B cut in the 200 breaststroke but that was not the expectation heading into US Open. We wanted to take the great racing opportunity at US Open to give me some great racing practice against higher level competition than I was used to.”

Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice .She crushed the national standard from the heats 2:27.83 compared to 2:30.24.Her first 50 was very aggressive compared to her last national record 33.88 to 35.27 and her third 50 as well 37.65 versus 38.65.

Morley before the Championship final
200 metre breaststrokePan Am GamesUS Open
First 5034.7933.88
Second 5038.2637.18
Third 5038.5137.89
Fourth 5038.6538.88
Total Time2:30.212:27.83

Laura gave her insight if the race strategy to attack those two 50’s specifically and if she was very confident in her training to take it out so fast?

“Yes, I was in a very competitive heat in the morning and knew that the girls next to me would throw down some good times, so I took that opportunity to go out and race them. I did take it out more aggressively than normal, but still very control so I could have some speed on the back half of the race. We have been working a lot on 200 pace long course so I had confidence in my training and race strategy”.

Alia Atkinson

Laura is easily the number two all time in the event for the CARIFTA region. The A cut is 2:25.52 and  Olympian Alia Atkinson tops the all-time  CARIFTA ranking with  her national record 2:25.48. The Nassau native is currently faster than the best CARIFTA time posted at the Olympics Atkinson’s then national record of 2:28.77 at the London 2012 Olympic Games .

Adriana Marmolejo Photo courtesy of sala de prensa

She is also faster than the CCCAN best time at the Olympics of 2:28.10 by Adriana Marmolejo which was the then national record for Mexico.

Morley spoke about her next outing and if she had any specific times in mind?

“I am competing at the Knoxville TYR Pro Series meet in January but will be training through that meet and using as racing practice. I do not have any specific times in mind but just want to get more comfortable with my race strategy and racing in competitive heats. I am heading into another hard training block for a few months until I rest again sometime in the spring”.

In the 100 breast Morley was just off her best time of 1:10.44. She took us through that race and what adjustments she would need to make to go after the B cut of 1:09.08.

100 metre breaststrokeMayDec
First 5033.2533.28
Second 5037.1937.18
Total Time1:10.441:10.46

“This fall we have been focusing on the 200 more so than the 100, but using the 100 as good practice for the 200. I was pleased with my morning swim of the 100 as it was just off my best time, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the 200. I have been working on getting my strength and speed up for the 100, but it is still a work in progress! The B cut in the 100 is a great goal to keep in mind!”

GABBY BANKS MOVES TO #5 ON ALL TIME LIST OF FEMALE JAMAICAN SPRINTERS AT FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPS

Cypress Bay senior Jamaican Gabrianna Banks continued show why she is among the best female sprinters Jamaica has ever produced with her swansong performance in the 50 yard freestyle at the 4A Florida high school championships.

Gabrianna Banks Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

The meet which was held on on November 15,2019 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida.She entered the competition with a season best of 24.20 in the splash and dash. She crushed that seasonal best with a swift 23.68. That morning swim challenged her personal standard of 23.53 . In the final she would show her sprinting abilities yet again setting a new personal best of 23.38.That would give her fifth place, her highest ever placing at the State level. This is an improvement from eight place in 2018 where she clocked 23.79. The race was won by Lexie Mulvihill in 22.46

Banks has been her school’s standard bearer in the race for the last four years. That swim also moves her to the fifth place in Jamaica’s all time list in the 50 yard freestyle.

JAMAICAN WOMEN OF SPEED

Natasha Moodie at the 2010 NCAA Division I Championships.Photo courtesy of gobluephotos.com
Name Time (Year)
Natasha Moodie22.26 (2011)
Alia Atkinson23.03 (2009)
Dawn Kane23.12 (2002)
Breanna Roman23.36 (2015)
Gabrianna Banks23.38 (2019)
Shaunie Johnson23.43 (2018)
Emily MacDonald23.43 (2019)
Kelsie Campbell23.53 (2017)

The top two swimmers Olympians Natasha Moodie and Alia Atkinson were conditioned at the Comets Swim club back in high school in the early 2000’s by Chris Anderson. Anderson, who now heads South Florida Aquatics Club where Banks now trains as does World Record holder Atkinson.

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

Banks ,who is the reigning CCCAN Bronze medallist in the 15-17 50 metre freestyle, is arguably the most reliable relay swimmer Jamaica has produced at the age group with her swift relay splits continued show why she she is the “Transporter”. In the 200 yard medley relay B final she had the fastest anchor leg of 23.36 .That enabled her Cypress Bay to move from 7th to 2nd in 1:48.76. Lake Brantley’s anchor leg Elizabeth Linartas just held off Banks to help them touch in 1:48.17. This bettered the 2018 performance where the team finished 7th in the B final in 1:52.21

In the 200 yard freestyle relay the Weston Florida based institution deployed Banks on the opening leg to ensure the team was competitive in the Championship final.It worked as Gabby recorded 23.54 the fastest of the opening legs to help them tie with Venice in a total time of 1:37.21. The race was won by Oviedo in 1:33.68. This is much better than 2018 where the team won the B final in time of 1:41.11.

There would be yet another Championship final for the team as they placed seventh in the 400 yard freestyle relay in a time of 3:32.20.Banks anchored her Cypress quarter with a split of 51.62. Last year the team did not qualify for the Championship and in 2017 they were fourth in the B final. Gabby produced an anchor leg of 53.72.

Cypress Bay finished the competition for the girls in 11th spot with 79 points.The winners were Oviedo who amassed 333 points

Gabby Banks.Photo courtesy of sun- sentinel.com

DrafitingtheCaribbean spoke to Banks after her final Championships on November 21 about her performances as well as the outlook for the long course season and going under the 26 seconds barrier for the 50 metre race

“I am very happy with my best time in the 50 and my relay swims.I am working to train more mid distance so my 100 split in the 400 free relay which was a great reflection of my training . I am excited for long course season to hopefully go 25 in the 50 metre freestyle and lower my 100 best time”.

JAMAICA’S EMILY MACDONALD WINS THREE GOLD AT FLORIDA 1A STATE CHAMPS, COUNTRYMAN CAMERON BROWN HAS CAREER BEST PLACINGS

At the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart, Florida on Nov 11 Jamaica was represented by 2019 World Junior Championships representatives  Emily MacDonald of the Bolles School and Cameron Brown of the University School.

Emily’s Bolles School won the State Championship for the girls for the 29th consecutive year. In the 400 yard freestyle relay the Grade 11 student along with her teammates created history to lower the school standard en route to Gold in the relay.

Emily MacDonald preparing to race Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

Emily, who was drafted into the final for her first ever swim on this relay at States made the best use of it with a big personal best. She led off the relay in a time of 50.81, beating her lifetime best by almost a second. That gave the Bulldogs a lead that they would not relinquish to hold off the Saint Andrews team in a new school record of 3:23.18 to  the Scots 3:24.00. The last time a Jamaican was on the podium was through Annabella Lyn and her Pine Crest team in 2017 when they won Silver in 3:27.02.

The old 1A Champs best was set in 2014. The 2019 winning time now stands as the fastest time ever done at the 1A championships.


MacDonald is just outside the top five fastest Jamaican women of all time in the 100 yard freestyle.

Janelle Atkinson Photo courtesy of panamericanworld.com

The time also has Bolles as the fastest team in Florida when compared to the other teams in 2A, 3A and 4A.

In the 200 yard medley relay the 2018 team repeated the Gold medal performance with a change in legs to produce a faster time in 2019.This time Emily and Sasha Ramey switched freestyle and butterfly legs. The result saw Emily producing the first butterfly sub 25 second split since 2017 at States. Their winning time of 1:43.43 is the fastest Gold medal performance since 2015.

In the 200 yard freestyle relay MacDonald now has a complete set of medals. In 2017 she won the Bronze with her team touching in 1:35.67. In 2018 they were in the runner up spot stopping the clock in 1:34.39. This time they had no equal at the meet or in Florida as they record a time of 1:33.61 to take the Gold . The time is the second fastest time ever recorded at the 1A state Championships . Only the 2013 Bolles team with their school record of 1:32.74 has been faster.

In the morning heats Emily recorded her first sub 23 seconds relay split of 22.94 to push the team to the number one seed for the final with a time of 1:35.37.

In the 50 yard freestyle the Pan Am Games B finalist recorded a personal best in the heats of 23.43. In the final she recorded the second fastest time of her career to place fourth in 23.53. She has steadily improved at the State championships with an 8th place finish in 2017 with a time of 23.97, then finishing 5th in 2017 with a swim of 23.68. MacDonald is now tied with Shaun Johnson on the list of the fastest Jamaican woman of all time. The list is again headed by Natasha Moodie with her blast from the 2011 NCAA Division I champs.

Natasha Moodie Photo courtesy of mgoblue.com
Cameron Brown .Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Her teammate Cameron Brown, who has been Jamaica’s best age group breaststroker for a number of years, recorded his best time in the 100 yard event at the State Champs in the heats with a swim of 59.45. In the final Brown recorded his highest ever placing punching in a time of 59.64. That bettered his best showing of 7th in 2017 in 1:00.08.

In the 200 medley and freestyle relay Brown recorded his best splits at the State championships for his best ever relay showing.

In the 200 yard medley relay he was timed at 27.49 that helped University School hold off Saint Andrews 1:40.11 to 1:40.32 to top the B final. Last year the team was 5th in 1:42.80. His breaststroke leg was the fastest of the B finalists.

In the 200 yard freestyle relay Brown’s team were the victors in the B final with a time of 1:29.45. Cameron’s second leg was 22.01. This is major improvement from 2018 when the team placed 8th in the B final with a total effort of 1:31.91.

The Bolles topped the girls field amassing 489 points, Saint Andrews was second with 280 and PK Yonge third with a total of 152.5.

On the boys side University School was 13th with 63 points. The winners were Bolles with 337 points, Second Episcopal(Jacksonville) 209.5 and Berkeley Prep with 169.

ATKINSON STRIKES GOLD IN INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE DEBUT

Last weekend Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson made her debut in the International Swimming league. The league is a franchise based competition which has teams facing off in a 25 metre pool over two days. The franchises are European and American based. Atkinson is a part of Team Iron which has is the Team of Olympian and World Record holder Katinka Hosszú “The Iron Lady” .

LA Current’s Trinidad and Tobago star Dylan Carter .Photo courtesy of Dylan Carter

Atkinson’s team faced off against teams such as the LA Current home of Trinidad and Tobago star Dylan Carter, the New York Breakers and the London Roar in Lewisville Texas from October 19 to 20.

Team Iron’s Alia Atkinson

As she has become accustomed to in her career Commander Atkinson became the first person from the CARIFTA region to compete in the League when she contested the 50 metre breaststroke. She was at her imperious best turning back the field to take the win in 29.31. Breeja Larson of the New York Breakers was second in 29.70 and third spot was locked by Sarah Vasey of the London Roar.

Video of win

In the longer sprint, the 100 metres the top two positions were reversed as Larson won in 1:03.80 followed by Atkinson in 1:04.23. Annie Lazor of the LA Current took third in 1:04.75.

In the 4 x 100 medley relay Atkinson and her  Olympic teammates Mie Nelson of Denmark, Hosszú and Ranomi Kromowidjojo 2012 Dutch Double Olympic sprint freestyle Champion placed third in 3:51.85.

In the 50 metre butterfly she was sixth in 26.30. In the 4 x100 metre freestyle swimming for Iron 2 she swam her fastest 100 metre freestyle split of 55.86 as they placed eighth in3:40.63.

The final team score was

London Roar – 484.5

LA Current – 457.0

Iron – 402.0

NY Breakers – 278.5

The next meet date for Alia and Team Iron will beat their home ground in Budapest Hungary from October 26 to 27

2019 WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS 50 metre breaststroke women Commander Alia Atkinson continues to be the CCCAN standard bearer with fourth place Championship finish

When Jamaican and CCCAN swimming icon Alia Atkinson navigated her way to second place in her semi final breaststroke she ensured that there would be a swimmer from the region competing in a Championship final.

In that final Atkinson gave it her all and finished fourth in a season best time of 30.34. Gold was won by American Lilly King in 29.84, Silver to Benedetta Pilato of Italy in 30.00 and the Bronze to Russian Yulia Efimova 30.15.

Alia Atkinson prepares to compete

In making the Championship final she created more history. In making the the semi finals she is the only swimmer from the CCCAN region to make three semi finals in this event. In making the Championship final she is the only swimmer from the CCCAN region to make two Championship final in the race. In fact she is the only swimmer male or female to make it beyond the preliminary round of the event.

Atkinson still retains the CCCAN record for the best placing in a 50 metre event at the 2015 Kazan World championships with her Silver medal and national record swim of 30.11.Other swimmers who have earned the distinction of making a World Championship final in a 50 metre race include fellow legends George Bovell III of Trinidad and Tobago and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of The Bahamas.

CCCAN 50’s HALL OF FAME

Goerge Bovell III Photo courtesy of sportsmax.tv
NameEventTime YearPlace
Alia Atkinson50 breaststroke30.112015Silver
George Bovell III50 freestyle21.512013Bronze
Alia Atkinson50 breaststroke30.3420194th
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace50 freestyle24.4420156th
George Bovell III50 freestyle22.0420117th
  Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 50 butterfly25.9320157th
George Bovell III50 freestyle21.5320097th
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of Mike Lewis

National record holder Evita Leter recorded her second best performance at the World Champs when she placed 41st in a time of 34.58.

Evita Leter

This is Leter’s fourth consecutive World champs competing in this race.

Naima Hazell Photo courtesy of Eddie Hazell

St Lucian Naima Hazell who was fifth in this event at CARIFTA in the 13-14 age group with a time of 35.85 shattered that time with a new PB and St Lucian 13-14 record to place 42nd overall in a time of 34.79. . Hazell who has one more year in the age group will be aiming for the CARIFTA Championship record which stands at 34.29. It was set by Shne Joachim of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2015.

Naomy Grand’Pierre

Haiti’s first female Olympian Naomy Grand’Pierre who is back in the water after a significant time recovering from injury was 46th in a time of 37.02.

2019 World Swimming Championships 100 metre breaststroke women Atkinson tops region with yet another semi final showing

Alia Atkinson

Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson added to her legacy by reaching yet another semi final at the Championships. The Commander is the only athlete from the CCCAN region to do this. In the heats of the event she produced a time of 1:07.25 (split time 31.44) to be eighth overall, a season best. In the semifinals she would be even faster , stopping the clock in 1:07.11 ( split time 31.64) to be joint 11th overall with Switzerland  Lisa Mamie. She has now provided with three consecutive World Championships top 16 placings. She did not participate at the 2017 edition in Budapest.

YearTimePlace
20191:07.2511th
20151:06.42Bronze
20131:07.639th
Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

Albury Higgs of The Bahamas in her World Championships debut created history for herself and her nation. In addition to being the second fastest swimmer from the Region in the event she rattled her own national record from the 2018  CAC (Central American and Caribbean Games)  of 1:10.03 with  a swim of 1:10.65 to place 35th.

 ALL Time Best Swims

Year1st 502nd 50Final time
201832.9637.691:10.03
201932.9537.691:10.65

That performance puts her as the fastest Bahamian woman of all time at these Championships. She lowers the previous Bahamas best of 1:12.60 by Alicia Lightbourne recorded at the 2009 Rome meet.Her swim also marks the first time a Bahamian woman has been among the top 40 swimmers in this race. Additionally she is the second fastest ever swimmer from the region to compete at the World Championships.

CCCAN Top performers

YearNameTimeCountry 
2013Alia Atkinson1:06.21JAM
2019Albury Higgs1:10.65BAH
2013Erica Dittmer1:10.82MEX
2015Daniela Carrillo1:11.22MEX
2011Danielle Beaubrun1:11.34LCA
Albury Higgs SEC 2019

Higgs is enters the long course Championship season off the strength of a great NCAA collegiate season for the University of South Carolina . This year she became only the third CARIFTA region woman to break the minute barrier in the 100 yard breaststroke behind  Jamaicans Alia Atkinson  and Breanna Roman.

Yards Top Performers

YearNameTime
2016Alia Atkinson57.61
2018Breanna Roman59.50
2019Albury Higgs59.69
Maria Jimenez Peon Photo courtesy of linkedin

Maria Jimenez Peon of Mexico lowered her six year old personal standard of 1:12.70 to record a time of 1:11.83 (split time 33.55).

Evita Leter Photo courtesy of Florida Gulf Coast Swimming and Diving

Competing for the fourth consecutive time in the event at these World Championships national record holder Evita Leter of Suriname posted a time of 1:20.89 to be ranked 51st.