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

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.

PONSON READIES HERSELF FOR TOKYO WITH SPRINT FREE RECORD PERFORMANCES IN PUERTO RICO

Aruban Olympian Allyson Ponson announced her readiness for top performances at this summer’s World Championships in Korea and ultimately the Tokyo Olympics with national record performances in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle.

Allyson Ponson celebrating her 100 metre freestyle Gold medal Photo courtesy of Azura Florida Aquatics

The occasion was the Puerto Rico International Swimming Open held from April 25 to 28 at the San Juan Natatorium . In her first sprint event the 100 metre freestyle Allyson, representing Azura Florida Aquatics rattled her national mark of 56.84 in the morning heats.She swam 56.86 to claim the top seed heading into the Championship final. In that final in the afternoon she relegated the 56.84 to the history books when she swam the only sub 57 time of 56.78. Allyson had set the old national record during the heats of the 18 and over category at the now defunct Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships. Silver went to Daniela Gutierrez Zapata of Colombia in 57.66.The Bronze was won by Julimar Avila of Honduras in 58.26.

Ponson was just off the 2019 Lima A standard of 56.56.In her sights for the rest of the season will be the World Championships B time of 56.40 and Olympic B standard of 56.01.

Allyson Ponson at the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony Photo courtesy of wikipedia

The record breaking was not limited to the 100 metre freestyle as she turned her attention to the fastest event in swimming , the 50 metre freestyle. In that event she blasted through a number of standards as well as her national record in her morning swim. She exerted her dominance with a new Aruban mark of 25.61. That blew away her old national standard of 25.84 set in 2016. Also bettered was the Lima Peru PAN AM A standard of 25.89 and the World Championships B standard of 25.92.

Allyson with her teammate Mariel Mencia displaying Gold and Silver medals from the 50 metre freestyle Photo courtesy of Azura Florida Aquatics

In the night’s final her speed proved too much for her rivals as she stopped the clock in a time of 25.70.Second went to club mate Mariel Mencia in 26.56 and the Bronze to Olympian and 2007 PAN AM Games Silver medallist in the event Puerto Rico’s Vanessa García Vega in 26.50.

Allyson who is now training in Florida with Azura Florida Aquatics spoke to us earlier this month about that move

” So I left February 2 to train with Azura my goals where to do the Pan American A cut in the 50 (25.89) and swim a personal best in the 100 free. In regards with the training I was expecting to do a lot of sprint focused training which I did and I think that really helped me a lot”.

She also gave draftingthecaribbean some insight about her races in San Juan

”  Well during the heats of the 50 I really just tried to stay calm and not focus on the fact that I needed to still qualify with a Pan Am A cut. I felt confident because during warm up I felt really good and I really believed that the training I did during Azura would help me qualify with the A time. So during the race I was just focused on doing what I practiced and not thinking of the time. How ever I wasn’t expecting to go 25.61 yet. For the 100 finals I was already so happy to have done 56 in the morning that my mind set was basically just put on lets try to go a little faster than the morning .I can definitely improve my second 50 in the 100 going back.I also need to make sure I don’t breathe as much in the last few metres”.

Allyson along with twin sister Gabrielle provided the backbone of Aruba’s sprint force during their junior years at the CARIFTA swimming championships

Allyson’s CARIFTA record

Age Group50 freePlacing100 freePlacingAgeYear
11-1228.40Gold1:03.96Bronze122008
13-1427.72Bronze1:04.077th132009
13-1428.17Gold1:01.484th142010
15-1727.29Silver59.81Gold152011
15-1726.97Gold58.48Gold162012
15-1726.91Gold58.28Gold172013

Those swims are putting her in elite company among the top sprinters of all time from the region. In the 50 metre freestyle she is the second fastest active swimmer and fifth overall.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of theswimpictures.com
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace The Bahamas24.31
Malia Metella   French Guiana/France24.58
Alia Atkinson Jamaica25.47
Leah Martindale Barbados25.49
Malia Metella celebrating Olympic Silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics Photo courtesy of zimbio

In that group Vanderpool-Wallace,Martindale and Metella have all made the Olympic final in the event. Metella won the Silver in 2004 in Athens,Martindale was the first female swimmer from the CARIFTA region to make the sprint final in 1996 at the Atlanta Games. Arianna showed her dominance during her era to make the final in 2012 in London.

For the 100 metre freestyle the all time list is as follows

Coralie Balmy Photo courtesy of Coralie Balmy
Malia Metella   French Guiana/France53.49
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace The Bahamas53.73
Joanna Evans  The Bahamas55.29
Alia Atkinson   Jamaica55.35
Coralie Balmy   Martinique/France55.49
Leah Martindale  Barbados56.03
Allyson Ponson Photo courtesy of sportskidsaruba.com

With Allyson already faster than her 2016 Olympic debut swim in Rio of 26.00 she is one of the most exciting prospects to watch her heading to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

RECORDS DOWNED BY CARIFTA STARS ON DAY 1 OF SEC CHAMPS, ARUBAN SCHREUDERS LOWERS MEET AND SCHOOL RECORD IN 200 FREE, BAHAMIAN HIGGS HELPS SET SCHOOL RELAY RECORD

The opening night of the SEC South Eastern Conference Championships got underway last night at the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia. The CARIFTA region was represented by Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders and Albury Higgs of The Bahamas. Both ensured that their names were in etched in the record books.

Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of gamecocksonline

Albury Higgs representing the University of South Carolina joined her teammates on the 200 yard medley relay to place 11th and shatter the school record. The old record stood at 1:39.70 from the 2018 SEC competition.

Splits20192018
backstrokeEmily Cornell25.08Emily Cornell25.21
breaststrokeAlbury Higgs27.23Kersten Dirrane28.13
butterflyHallie Kinsey23.65Katie Shannahan24.32
freestyleChristina Lappin21.92Christina Lappin22.04
Total time1:37.881:39.70
Mikel Schreuders in action Photo courtesy of mutigers.com/Mike Krebs

In the 800 yard freestyle relay Schreuders representing Missouri set the pool alight with his opening 200 yard freestyle split. His time of 1:31.68 is a new PB, School record and SEC Championship record and it also propelled the Tigers to the Silver medal in a new school team record of 6:11.38. By the first 100 yards fans knew they were in for something special from the Oranjestad native as he had the only sub 44 seconds split of 43.91.When he touched he had given the Tigers a lead of almost a second. It took a new SEC record time of 6:10.50 by the Florida Gators to overhaul the Missouri team. The old Tigers record which was destroyed was from their 2018 SEC Silver medal winning performance. In 2018 Mikel had swum the second leg in a time of 1:33.45. It was Mikel’s aggression in the first half of the race that helped him to the record smashing performance as seen with a comparison of his splits, the old SEC record and his previous PB and school record

Splits2019SEC recordSchool record
First  5021.2121.3621.77
Second 5022.7023.4123.40
Third 5023.3823.4823.69
Fourth 50 24.3223.7924.06
Final time1:31.611:31.731:32.92

Conor Dwyer .Photo courtesy of zimbio

The old SEC record belonged to American Conor Dwyer who had set that standard leading off the 2011 Florida Gators team. He would later win Gold medals in the 800 metre freestyle relay at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai China and the 2011 PAN American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Schreuders had set the school record leading off the Tigers team at the 2018 NCAA Championships.

Mikel Schreuders CAC 200 metre freestyle Bronze medal

Mikel now stands at the 14th fastest swimmer ever in the event.He is now the second fastest swimmer from the CARIFTA region as he passes the Fraser brothers Shaune and Brett of the Cayman Islands who represented the Gators for that position. The number one spot belongs to Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter who with his opening leg blast for the USC Trojans at the 2017 NCAA Championships. On his school website Mikel who is the reigning Central American and Caribbean Games Bronze medallist in the 200 metre freestyle gave his thoughts on his performance ” We’ve all been preparing really well for this meet. I wanted to try and get the biggest lead that we could because we had strong opponents in that field. I just went for it and tried to do as much as I could. I didn’t even know I broke the record, but after hearing it on the podium, it was awesome. We’ve all been working so hard, it shows that it pays off. But we still have work to do.”

Top 200 yard freestyle swimmers from the CARIFTA region

Dylan Carter Photo courtesy of usctrojans.com
2017Dylan CarterUSC1:30.95
2019Mikel SchreudersMissouri1:31.61
2009Shaune FraserFlorida1:31.70
2011Brett FraserFlorida1:32.21
Shaune and Brett Fraser displaying ther 200 metre freestyle medals at the 2011 PAN AM Games.Photo courtesy of reuters.com

On that night on Feb 16,2011 it was Dwyer who gave the lead to Brett Fraser (1:32.77) to help the Gators to the Gold and a then SEC record time of 6:13.74. They had combined for 200 yard medley relay Gold as well also in an SEC record time of 1:24.94. Dwyer had swum the breaststroke in 23.56 and Brett had anchored in 19.08. At the PAN AM Games in Mexico later that year Brett and older brother Shaune gave the Cayman Islands their first ever Gold and Silver finish in the 200 metre freestyle.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of theswimpictures.com

Also on that night in 2011 the CARIFTA region had Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of The Bahamas and Auburn anchoring her school team with a split of 21.04 for a then SEC record of 1:36.11 in the 200 yard medley relay. Also Jamaican standout and current coach at Saint Andrews Ramon Walton led off the Kentucky team medley relay with a time of 22.46.

DETERMINED CHADÉ !!! NERSICIO WINS 50 YARD FREESTYLE TITLE AT FINAL 1A STATES CHAMPIONSHIPS

Curaçao’s Chadé Nersicio  of Trinity Christian Academy captured the 50 yard freestyle at the 1A State Championships on November 16 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida. Her win is a culmination of hard work and determination to finally capture the crown after a number of podium finishes.

Year Time Medal
2017 22.93 Silver
2016 22.96 Bronze
2015 23.41 Silver

Something special was on the cards for Chadé  as for the the first time in the four years of competing in the event she was the top qualifier in the event . She also had her fastest ever preliminary time of 23.14. That would be a good sign of what was to unfold in the Championship final of the 50 yard freestyle.

chade Gold medallist
Chade Nercisio Gold medallist in the 50 yard freestyle Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

Chadé would win her 50 freestyle title and the first for the Warriors. She stopped the clock in the only sub 23 seconds time of the race of 22.66 , a new personal best and school record. Silver went to McKenna Smith of  Academy at Lakes in 23.29 and the Bronze to Madeline Burt in a time of 23.29. Chadé  has been the standard bearer for the Warriors ever since she enrolled  Lake Worth based institution making an immediate impact becoming the first swimmer to go under 24 seconds.

Her buildup to this State Championship Gold was perfect in all the major school meets leading up to the meet in Stuart Florida as she took the top sprinter title at the Districts,Regionals and the Palm Beach County Championships .

ROAD TO GOLD

Championships Date Time
Palm Beach County Oct 6 22.89 MR PB
District Oct 30 23.67
Region 4 Nov 9 22.89 PB
State Nov 16 22.66 PB

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Chadé  and got her reaction to her win

“It felt so great winning the 50 free, my goal was dropping more time than usual in this event.Because over the years I wasn’t dropping much.I went from being stuck at 22.89 to going 22.66 Junior Nationals is coming up shortly my coach and I still believe I can go much faster than States so that’s what were preparing for”.

Natasha moodie
Natasha Moodie Photo courtesy of mgoblue.com

Only FOUR other winners of the 50 yard freestyle have ever gone faster than Chadé’s winning time across the Florida divisions and she now joins Chinyere Pigot of Suriname who represented the Doral Academy 2010 and Jamaican Natasha Moodie of Miramar (3A) 2005 as CARIFTA region swimmers to have won the 50 yard freestyle State Championships. Both went on to compete at the Olympics in the 50 metre Moodie at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Pigot at the 2008 Olympics and London 2012 Olympics.

thrillson.blogspot.com Chinyere
Chinyere Pigot London 2012 Olympics flag bearer Photo courtesy of thrillson.blogspot.com

This year has gone well  in the 50 freestyle in the long course pool in the Chadé with top performances in regional age group meet and making the B final at the CAC Games in Colombia.
Competition Time Place
UANA 26.72 Silver
CARIFTA 26.18 Gold
CAC Games 26.14 1st B final
There would be more Gold and yet another school record in the 200 yard freestyle relay . In the Championship final Nersicio provided the fastest split of 22.67 to move the team from third to Gold in a new school record and first ever State title in a time of 1:34.25.The team of Nicole Gomez, Naïma Dessout, Eriana Temperino produced the fastest 1A winning time since 2014.

Arianna
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of theswimpictures.com

It was also the first time a CARIFTA region swimmer was on the Gold medal winning team since Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace led off the 2006 Bolles team in a then state record time of 1:34.53.

Warriors freestyle relay team
Warriors Gold medal freestyle relay team from left to right Nersicio,Gomes, Coach John,Dessout and Temperino

There would also be another medal in the 400 yard freestyle relay as the Warriors replicated their best ever showing from 2017 with another Bronze medal. This time the quartet lowered the school record from 3:28.11 at the Palm Beach county champs to 3:27.44.
Nersicio would also go on to place fifth in the 100 yard freestyle in 50.64.  She has set the school record in the event at the this year’s Palm Beach County Championships with a a winning time of 50.34.
The Warriors would place fourth in the girls division with 208 points. The Bolles school won with 381 points, followed by Pine Crest with 303 points and Saint Andrews with 244.

MEDALS GALORE,ATKINSON CONTINUES ROLE AS CAC BREASTSTROKE INVINCIBLE,CARTER AND ROMANY TAKE HISTORIC FLY GOLD AND BRONZE,EVANS EXPANDS FREESTYLE KINGDOM WITH 100 SILVER

Oh what a night for the CARIFTA region swimmers at  23rd  (CAC) Central American and Caribbean  Games at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex in Colombia, on Sunday night as  four medals were won in three events. Alia Atkinson continued her invincible run in the 50 metre breaststroke, Team TTO’s Dylan Carter and Joshua Romany win a historic Gold and Bronze in the 50 metre butterfly and Bahamian Joanna Evans expands freestyle repertoire with 100 metre freestyle Silver

ALIA ATKINSON CAC 50 METRE BREASTSTROKE INVINCIBLE

If Alia Atkinson had not already confirmed her place in the pantheon of CAC swimming legends  the 50 metre breaststroke would certainly have cemented her place. No one expected any less than Gold from the Olympian and she ensured from the heats there would be no threats to her sprint breaststroke throne when she blazed to 31.14 .she was easily the class of the field and clearly there was more in the tank. From the starter’s gun and a fantastic start it was clear there would be no stopping Atkinson as she crushed the field by more than a second to win 30.19.  That was a mere .08 of a second off her Silver medal winning national mark of 30.11 set the 2015 Kazan World Championships. It is also the FOURTH fastest time in the world this year.At the CAC Games Atkinson has had no equal never being second best in either the heats or finals  in the editions she has attended and she only missed the 2014 Veracruz Games. Each time she has lined up behind the block it has resulted in a Games Record. Her record swim confirmed her obvious inclusion at the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM).

 

2006 2010 2018
Heats 33.51 GR 32.38GR 31.14 GR
Final 32.64 GR 31.91GR 30.19 GR

Silver went to Mexico Byanca Melissa Rodriguez Villanuev in 31.20 and the Bronze to Venezuela’s Mercedes Toledo in 31.99.The duo were the 2014 Gold and Silver medallists in Alia’s absence. There was  a heavy CARIFTA region presence as Bahamian Lilly Higgs placed fourth in 32.59,  Aruban Anahi Schrueders placed sixth in 33.33 and Laura Morley of The Bahamas seventh in 33.50.

FLY GUYS CARTER AND ROMANY MAKE HISTORY FOR TEAM TTO IN 50

50 metre butterfly medallists
CAC 50 metre butterfly medallists Photo courtesy of Federación Nacional de Natación Guatemala

Before this competition Team TTO had never won a medal in the 50 metre butterfly .Also the CARIFTA region had won a single medal through the efforts of Bahamian Vereance Burrows in 2010 with his Bronze medal blast of 24.30. History was going to be created in the night however. Joshua Romany fired the opening salvo with a  personal best of 23.73 rattling the 2010 record of 23.70 by Venezuela’s Octavio Alesi. Carter would ensure that the record said read Property of Trinidad and Tobago with his 23.50.

Team TTO
Team TTO celebrates Trinidad and Tobago’s Chef de mission Lovie Santana and Secretary General Ms. Annette Knott capture a moment with Romany and Carter Photo courtesy of Team TTO

 

In the evening’s final there would be the double the joy for Team TTO as Carter took the Gold in yet another Games record of 23.11, which is also a new personal best and national . Teammate Romany in just his second senior level assignment won the Bronze in a time of 24.05. The pair was split by Guatemala Luis Carlos Martinez Mendez with his 23.26. Carter now ranks fourth in the World with his new record and qualifies automatically for the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM)  . Romany continues to get faster and has been on major upward trajectory since 2017 is near the automatic standard of 23.66 for both Championships.

Video by Team TTO

JOANNA EVANS EXPANDS FROM DISTANCE FREESTYLE WITH SPRINT SILVER

Joanna Evans 100 metre freestyle
Joanna Evans Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

When draftingthecaribbean saw the lineup for the 100 metre Championship final with Joanna Evans lining up to contest the medals we noted that if she was anywhere near the leaders after the first 50 metre it would be hard to deny her not just a medal but the Gold.  Evans qualified with a personal best of 56.51, the sixth best time of the field.

When the race started the known sprinters surged to the lead and Joanna was close by at the turn with a split of 26.82 to be fourth. Then came the expected Joanna started to close and was passing by the leaders. It would not be enough and she ran out of water as Venezuela’s Isabella Arcila Hurtado just held on to take the Gold in 55.21. Evans crushed her personal best to win the Silver in 55.29.The Bronze went to Mexican Liliana Ibanez Lopez in 55.39. Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson finished just off the podium and her national record of 55.35 with a time of 55.41. This the third consecutive medal for the Bahamas in the event following Silver and Gold efforts by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace in 2010 and 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

TEAM JAMAICA DAY 2 REPORT ALIA SETS NATIONAL FLY RECORD EN ROUTE TO GOLD, DOLS LOWERS ANDREW PHILLIPS DECADES OLD MEDLEY RECORD

Team Jamaica’s performances on Day 2 of the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean ) Games by yet another Gold medal by Olympian Alia Atkinson in the 50 metre butterfly and record breakinng swims by Keanan Dols in the 200 metre individual medley.

Alia 50 metre butterfly
Alia Atkinson posing with 50 metre butterfly Gold Photo courtesy of Gillian Millwood

Colombia will hold special memories for Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson as it was in 2006 when the 50 metre butterfly was introduced to swimming schedule she was the first winner of the event in Cartagena in a time of 28.59. Fast forward to 2018 in Barranquilla and Atkinson has not lost her appetite for Colombian Gold. In the heats we saw  signs that the Gold would be heading to Kingston when she broke her three year old 50 national record of 26.65 with a time of 26.54.  She would not be top seed as that went to 2010  and 2014 Bronze medallist Jeserik Pinto of Venezuela who got Lane 4 with a time of 26.52. In the final however Alia would prevail with a time of 26.60. Pinto upgraded her Bronze to Silver with a time of 26.76. Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez  returned to win another Bronze in 27.08. With that swim Atkinson closes in on the A standard for the 2019 Gwangju World Champs of 26.34.

The event has been dominated by the CARIFTA region ladies as no swimmers other than Atkinson and recently retired Olympian Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace have won this race.Additionally Vanderpool-Wallace holds the Games record at 26.46.

Year Winner Time
2006 Alia Atkinson 28.59
2010 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.92
2014 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.46
2018 Alia Atkinson 26.60

andrew phillips
Andrew Phillips Photo courtesy of andrewphillips.com

Almost 30 years ago on August 4 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games Andrew Phillips registered the fastest time by a Jamaican in the 200 metre individual medley when he clocked a national record of 2:05.60. That is the best placing for a Jamaican man at the Olympic Games.

keanan-dols-m-lyn
Keanan Dols Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

On July 21, 2018 in Barranquilla Colombia that mark was finally lowered. Keanan Dols swimming in heat 2 of the event won his race in  a time of 2:04.00. That helped Keanan qualify for his second consecutive senior level Championship final.He would record his best placing of fourth in yet another record swim with a time of 2:03.66, a mere 0.18  of a second away from the Bronze medal winning time of Mexican Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz who stopped the clock in 2:03.48. Gold went to Puerto’s Jarrod Aroyo in 2:02.37.Silver was won by Venezuela’s Carlos Claverie in 2:03.06.

National record progression

Leg Phillips 1984 Dols  2018 Dols 2018
butterfly 27.88 26.70 26.78
backstroke 31.58 31.67 31.55
breaststroke 36.67 35.91 35.55
freestyle 29.47 29.72 29.78
Total Time 2:05.60 2:04.00 2:03.66

That qualifies Keanan automatically for the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games and is under the 2019 Gwagju World Championships  and 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course swimming championships B standards of 2:04.43.

Dols ay 2016 CISC
Dols at 2016 CISC Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

The CCCAN region occupied positions 1,3,4 ,5,6, 7 and 8 in the Championship final. Fifth placed Patrick Groters set a new national record of 2:04.13. Interestingly at the last Caribbean Islands Swimming championships held in The Bahamas in 2016 Arroyo had won the 13-14 200 IM in a Championships record of 2;07.59 while Groters and Dols had finished 1,2 in the 15-17 age group in 2:06.19CR and 2:07.09.

Michael Gunning earned a second swim in the 200 IM after posting 2:12.41 in the morning heats. He would return to swim to fourth place and a season best of 2:10.60.

Emily MacDonald was 19th in the 50 metre butterfly in a personal best of 28.61. she finished 20th in the 200 metre freestyle in a time of 2:14.83.

 

 

 

ALIA ATKINSON LEADS TEAM JAMAICA AT 2018 CAC GAMES IN BARRANQUILLA COLOMBIA

When action gets underway tomorrow July 20 in Barranquilla Colombia at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games Team Jamaica will be led by Olympian Alia Atkinson (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 , London 2012 and Rio 2016). The team will seek to add to their overall medal count of 20 after not being present at the 2014 Veracruz Mexico Games.

CAC Medal total

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

Atkinson leads the  CARIFTA region with the most Gold medals at the oldest regional Games with Seven Gold medals from participating in two Championships 2006 and 2010.

Carolyn adel sundevils
Legendary Surinamese swimmer Carolyn Adel Photo courtesy of sundevils.com

Second on that list is another legend of the CARIFTA region Olympian Carolyn Adel (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000) of Suriname  who won Six Gold medals at the 1998 Maracaibo Venezuela Games.

AVW zimbio
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of zimbio

Atkinson is also two medals away from the  highest CARIFTA region medal total held by another regional swimming icon  Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016) of The Bahamas who also has Six Gold medals and an overall medal total of 11.   Atkinson was also the first Gold medallist in the 50 metre breaststroke and 50 metre butterfly events when they were introduced at  her 2006 debut at the Games  also in Colombia but at that time in Cartegena. Atkinson holds the Championship records in the 50 metre breaststroke 31.91,100 metre breaststroke 1:10.24 and 200 IM 2:17.31.

Keanan Dols CISC M Lyn
Keanan Dols at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Joining her on the team will be Keanan  Dols and Michael Gunning who have represented Jamaica at the senior team level  but making their CAC Games. Keanan represented Jamaica at the 2016 World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada where he set three national records. At the junior level he has represented the country at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Singapore and also at the CARIFTA level where he set many Championship records.

Michael Gunning WC pic 2017
Michael Gunning at the 2017 World Championships

Michael Gunning has represented the Black , Green and Gold at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest Hungary and the 2017 World University Games. he holds national records in the 200 and 400 metre freestyle  as well as the 200 metre butterfly events.

Luke Gunning Flanders 2018
Luke Gunning

Also making his debut at the multi sport Games will be Michael’s brother Luke Gunning who will be donning the national colours for the first time at any level.

Bryanna Renuart podium
Bryanna on the medal podium after capturing the CARIFTA 400 IM Gold Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

 

Fresh from outstanding regional junior performances in 2018 and making their senior team debuts will be Bryanna Renuart and Emily MacDonald. Both claimed regional Golden Doubles (CARIFTA and CCCAN) Renuart in the  15-17 400 metre individual medley and MacDonald in the 13-14 50 and 100 metre freestyle events.For MacDonald both Gold were claimed in Championship record time.

Emily 200 free
Emily MacDonald CARIFTA 100 metre freestyle Gold medallist and Championship record holder Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

 

The team is being coached by Miss Gillian Millwood

Schedule for Team Jamaica

Event Name Time Seeding
400 metre freestyle Emily MacDonald 4:56.08 17th
200 metre butterfly Michael Gunning 1:59.83 3rd
200 metre butterfly Keanan Dols 2:08.82 16th
50 metre backstroke Emily MacDonald 33.79 21st
100 metre freestyle Luke Gunning 52.98 27th
100 metre freestyle Keanan Dols 53.03 28th
100 metre breaststroke Alia Atkinson 1:07.61 1st
100 metre breaststroke Bryanna Renuart 1:14.89 13th
200 metre freestyle Emily MacDonald 2:08.70 19th
50 metre butterfly Alia Atkinson 26.82 1st
50 metre butterfly Alia Atkinson 28.85 19th
100 metre backstroke Bryanna Renuart 1:12.89 19th
200 metre IM Keanan Dols 2:05.87 8th
200 metre IM Michael Gunning 2:08.75 12th
100 metre backstroke Keanan Dols 58.37 13th
100 metre freestyle Alia Atkinson 55.35 1st
100 metre freestyle Emily MacDonald 57.95 15th
50 metre breaststroke Alia Atkinson 30.53 1st
50 metre breaststroke Bryanna Renuart 34.35 15th
50 metre butterfly Keanan Dols 25.44 17th
50 metre butterfly Luke Gunning 25.53 20th
200 metre breaststroke Bryanna Renuart 2:43.76 11th
400 metre freestyle Michael Gunning 4:00.01 9th
400 metre IM Bryanna Renuart 5:07.30 9th
200 metre backstroke Keanan Dols 2:06.02 8th
100 metre butterfly Alia Atkinson 59.94 1st
100 metre butterfly Emily MacDonald 1:04.28 17th
200 metre freestyle Michael Gunning 1:52.59 10th
200 metre IM Bryanna Renuart 2:26.96 14th
100 metre butterfly Luke Gunning 55.39 11th
100 metre butterfly Keanan Dols 56.19 13th
50 metre freestyle Alia Atkinson 25.94 4th
50 metre freestyle Emily MacDonald 26.73 13th
50 metre freestyle Keanan Dols 25.26 38th

 

2018 REV NATIONAL SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS VICTORIA RUSSELL BREAKS THROUGH BUTTERFLY BARRIER WITH SUB 28 SECONDS GOLD MEDAL WINNING PERFORMANCE IN 50 METRE RACE

There were a number of breakthrough performances at the 2018 REV National swimming championships in Nassau last weekend and Plymouth Leander based  Victoria Russell  was determined to be counted among the elite at the competition.Russell performances have been on an upward trajectory as evidenced by her making her first international final in the 100 metre breaststroke at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games

Victoria Russell
Victoria Russell finalist in the women’s 100 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games

Boasting a personal best of 28.93 at the start of the meet in the 50 metre butterfly Victoria qualified easily with the top time of 29.47. Later on in the Championship final on Sunday June 17 she would step up the standard of her swimming to another level. The Championship final would see Russell, who swam under the Alpha Aquatics banner, breaking the 28 seconds barrier to post a new personal standard of just over a second as she stopped the clock in a time of 27.92.

Arianna-Vanderpool-Wallace-by-Mike-Lewis-Mesa-319x480
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of Mike Lewis

With the retirement of the legendary regional swimmer and Olympian  Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016) that puts Victoria as the fastest Bahamian in the event.It would also have placed her fifth at the 2014  Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz Mexico. She would win a complete set of medals at the Championships  and Personal best trifecta .This as she won Silver in the 50 metre freestyle in a personal best of 26.95 and Bronze in the 100 metre freestyle in yet another personal best time of 1:01.15.

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Russell on June 21 she spoke about training before Nationals and her impressions of her performances

Victoria Russell nationals
Victoria Russell Gold medallist in the Girls 15 and over 50 metre butterfly

“I swim for Plymouth Leander in England under the coaching of Coach Robin Armayan. I train approximately twenty hours a week to include swimming and gym work. I only entered three races at Nationals because I have CCCAN coming up in nine days. At the Bahamian National Swimming Championships I made a personal best time in the 50 metre butterfly and surpassed the Youth Olympic A qualifying cut. Going into the race I felt relaxed and comfortable knowing that I had the support of a large home crowd rooting for me to swim my best. I also achieved a personal best in the 50 metre freestyle breaking 27 seconds for the first time, with a time of 26.95”.

 

BREANNA ROMAN HELPS AUBURN’S MEDLEY RELAY TO NEW SCHOOL RECORD

Auburn’s Jamaican senior Breanna Roman is making her final competitive days at the NCAA level memorable as she competes at the NCAA Division I Championships in Columbus Ohio. She ensured that on her first day of action on Thursday in the 400 yard medley relay with a new school record.

breanna-roman-in-action-for-auburn-university
Breanna Roman in action for Auburn University

At the SEC Championships the Auburn Tigers were just off the 2012 record of 3:30.32 when they won Bronze in 3:30.93. In the heats of the event they were just again off that time when they earned a second swim in the B final as the team had a total time of 3:31.47.

Relay record Auburn B
Breanna Roman celebrating with teammates a new school record in the 400 yard medley relay Photo courtesy of auburntigers.com

In the final the quartet of Erin Falconer backstroke, Roman breaststroke ,Haley Black butterfly and Alyssa Tetzloff freestyle took the B final by almost a second and were the only team under 3:30 to take the win in a new school record of 3:29.83.Michigan placed second in the race in 3:30.79 and Wisconsin third in 3:30.96. The old record was set by the Auburn NCAA championship team of Emily Bos, Lauren Norborg, Olivia Joan Scott and CARIFTA legend Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace.At the SEC’s Roman’s leg was timed at 59.83 in the B final she was more than half a second faster in 59.25

Name Stroke Time Split Year
Erin Falconer backstroke 52.42
Breanna Roman breaststroke 59.25
Haley Black butterfly 50.73
Alyssa Tetzloff freestyle 47.43 3:29.83 2018

 

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of fitterandfaster.com

Name Stroke Time Split Year
Emily Bos backstroke 52.88
Lauren Norborg breaststroke 59.45
Olivia Joan Scott butterfly 51.22
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace freestyle 46.77 3:30.32 2012