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
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.
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
“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”.
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.
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.
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
Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Rio 2016, London 2012, Beijing 2008) of The Bahamas made a strong start for the calendar year 2018 with a Championship final appearance in the 100 metre freestyle.
Competing on the second day of 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series, Austin on Friday Arianna clocked 54.92 in the morning heats. That qualified her for the A final in the evening. The Nassau native who now competes for Wolfpack Elite was third at the 50 metre turn with a split of 26.03. She would be nipped at the wall by Kayla Sanchez 54.17 to finish 4th in a time of 54.73.Gold went to Canadian Taylor Ruck in 53.51,Silver to American Margo Greer in 53.74. That swim by Vanderpool-Wallace places her 13th in the global rankings. With the Commonwealth Games on the horizon the Speedy Bahamian looks on course for a podium finish at the competition at the Gold Coast in Australia from April 4 to 15. In 2014 she placed 5th in the event at the Glasgow Games
Analysis of 100 metre swims Austin, Commonwealth Games and National Record
Date and venue
Olympics Aug 2012
Commonwealth Games July 2014
Pro Swim Series Austin Jan 2018
Arianna is yet another success story from The Bahamas who competed at the CARIFTA Games and went on to represent the Region with distinction at the Olympic Games. No other woman from the region has gone faster than Arianna in either the 50 or 100 metre freestyle events , She still holds the girls 15-17 record with a time of 56.77 from the 2008 CARIFTA Championships held in Aruba.
The second day of the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games (Thursday July 20) being held at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre in The Bahamas saw history created by the Bahamian breaststroke duo of Lilly Higgs and Izaak Bastian.
The Games which are in its fifth installment saw Lilly Higgs winning Silver in the 50 metre breaststroke for girls. After posting a time of 33.10 in the heats to be seeded third Higgs went all out in the final stopping the clock in a time of 32.52 to win the Silver medal .She finished just behind Christie Chue of Singapore who Gold in a time of 32.38. The Bronze went to Ciara Smith of New Zealand in 32.56. Lilly‘s time is a new personal best, 15-17 age group record and senior national record. That bettered her old personal best and national record time of 32.70 when she won Gold at the CARIFTA Games earlier this year at the same venue. It was also the FIRST the CARIFTA region had won a medal of any colour at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Additionally she became the FIRST Bahamian man or woman to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in this event at either the Youth or Senior level. Lilly is also only the SECOND woman from the CARIFTA region to medal in this event. The first was Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson who won the Silver medal in Glasgow in 2014.Higgs is also only the SECOND person to win a medal for The Bahamas at the Commonwealth Games both senior and junior. The first medal was won by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace when she won Silver at the 2014 Glasgow Games in the 50 metre butterfly.Draftingthecaribbean got a few words from Higgs after her groundbreaking achievement.
“It’s always an honor to represent the Bahamas on a national level, and to be able to be the first medalist for swimming at Youth Commonwealth Games makes it an even greater honor. Going into the event and going into finals I was seated third, and I knew I had to have a good start and breakout stroke to be in the medal contention. The race felt really smooth and I was able to perform really well. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the meet holds. Go Bahamas!”
The hometown fans would have more to cheer as history would be continued to be made in the very next event through the efforts of Izaak Bastian. Also competing in the 50 metre breaststroke Izaak crushed his heats time of 29.55 and his personal best of 29.39 to win Silver in a new personal standard of 28.77.
He finished behind South African Michael Houlie who posted 27.68 for the Gold. Zongxian Khoo of Singapore won the Bronze in a time of 29.19. With that medal winning performance Izaak became the FIRST male medallist at the Commonwealth Youth Games for the Bahamas and the region .He also becomes the FIRST Bahamian male medallist at the Commonwealth either junior or senior. And only the Third medallist of either gender at any level of the Commonwealth Games behind Vanderpool-Wallace and his teammate Higgs just moments earlier. He gave draftingthecaribbean the following thoughts about his performance.
“The race felt really great especially watching Lilly go in the heat before me and come second. It really inspired me. I wanted to try my best and do what I could to and represent the best I could. I didn’t know if it was going to be a medal or not but I just wanted to get out and have a good race. To touch the wall and see second was really surprising .It was a new experience and I felt very excited to race against persons from all across the world and just regionally. It was a new experience and something I had to get over .Instead of being able to swim easy in the morning and then faster in the night. Swimming fast twice in the day was definitely a change for me. To come back in the night and swim almost half a second faster than my best time was amazing”.
As the Championship meets for the summer of 2017 beckon draftingthecaribbean continues to look back at some of the top performers from the 2016-2017 so far. The performer being featured is Alison Jackson of the Cayman Islands for her sprint freestyle achievements at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships held from April 15-19 in The Bahamas.
With the availability of the top class facility in Nassau – the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex – and race commentary being provided by none other than the region’s best sprint freestyler (local heroine Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace) the motivation for Alison to perform well for her country would have been great.
On April 17 Alison lowered her personal best ,13-14 age group record, senior national record as well the CARIFTA record of 59.34 set by Bermudan Emma Harvey of 59.34 when she swam 58.22 (splits 27.71 and 30.51) in the preliminaries. In addition to those accolades it was also the fastest time ever done by a 13-14 girl in the Bahamas. Jackson would go on to win the Gold medal in the final in a time of 58.31. A day later she would complete the sprint double when she won the 50 metre in another personal best, 13-14 age group and senior national record of 26.97.That result made her the first female swimmer from the Cayman Islands ever to go under the 27 seconds mark. This marks the second sprint double for Alison in her CARIFTA career as she achieved the feat for the first time at the 2015 Barbados Championship in the 11-12 age group.
Since the 2005 CARIFTA Championships, no female swimmer from the Cayman Islands had medalled in the 50 and 100 freestyle events in the 13-14 age group. Jackson had given a sign of the speed to come as she had won the 200 metre freestyle crown with a winning time of 2:11.57. A year earlier in Martinique Jackson had the following places 50 metre freestyle 4th 27.48,100 metre freestyle 8th 1:01.60 and 200 metre freestyle 7th 2:17.26. Alison now has the national standards for the Cayman Islands for the sprint freestyle events for the 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and senior categories.
She would win a Silver in the 800 metre freestyle relay that clocked 9:09.35.In the 400 metre freestyle relay the Cayman Island girls would win the Bronze in 4:12.00.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Jackson on June 7 she described winning three Gold medals.
“Winning the medals was a good reflection of where I’m at right now as a swimmer and helped to show where I can improve. Winning the 200 was a welcome shock because I only just started to really focus on middle distances this past season. Winning the 100 and 50 gave me an insight in to how I have improved my sprinting over the course of the season and where I still have room to improve”.
As the fastest female ever swimmer from The Cayman Islands she reflected on what her goals for the 50 metre freestyle before CARFITA
“I’ve had the goal to go under 27 seconds in the 50 freestyle for a while now. Now that I’ve done it I believe I still have ways to go and lots to improve on in this event. With our improving strength and sprint programmes I’m sure I will reach my full potential in this race”.
Alison also spoke about her summer plans
“While I’m not participating in CCCAN or World Juniors I am focusing on training this summer and then I am going to ISCA which is a meet in St. Petersburg. Although this meet isn’t as big as World Juniors it still gives me the opportunity to race people who are faster than me and who can push me in my races.”
Draftingthecaribbean also was able to get an insight into Jackson’s performances and her development from head coach at the Stingray Swim Club David Pursley. In analyzing her Gold medal performances Coach Pursley offered these thoughts:
“Ali’s three wins were very reassuring to the direction we are heading. She has always had great potential in the sprints with her speed and strength but from a development stand point we have really been working hard to improve her stamina for the back end of her 100. The second night she was able to win the 200 free which helped to validate the work we have been doing the past couple seasons. Wehave seen the results in practice sets and day to day training but hadn’t yet put it together in the 200 in a big competition. I really feel even though it wasn’t her most impressive victory, that the 200 was her biggest break through and most important victory.
Her 100 was fun to watch and the most impressive 100 of her career. Though the last 15 meters still were not there. The 200 showed the progress we have made and the 100 showed us that there is still work to be done. She managed to maintain her rates longer than any 100 in the past but still dropped significantly in the last 15 meters. Her speed out was very impressive and she took an early commanding lead. It was nerve racking for me as it looked more aggressive than her prelims swim but she managed to show how tough and determined she is coming home.”
He also spoke about her going under 27 seconds and plans for her in the event
“The 50 free was good to get under 27 seconds which was a general goal. However there is still a long ways to go in this event. I truly believe that Ali will be very special in this event as her career unfolds. Her development right now is setting her up to see impressive results in the 50 a couple years down the road. She is nowhere near the potential I believe she has in this event. The 50 is all about speed and strength.
The strength program she is on will have her lifting with the best of them in three years’ time. It is a three year program that she is on that started 7 months prior. Ali has tremendous strength already but is nowhere near where she will be in 2019. She has proven to be a high responder to strength training and seems to really enjoy the process. I look forward to seeing what she will be doing. After hitting the peak of the program in 2019 she will hopefully be ready to really specify the strength aspect at an elite level by 2020.
To develop her speed we need to develop her coordination, balance, and technique. This is the first year we have introduced rate specific coordination exercises and really pressured for greater core stability and it seems to be paying off. Naturally Ali has great kinaesthetic awareness and is able to adjust and perform complicated movements fairly easily and quickly. From a technical stand point her focus right now is on improving her kick and her start”.
Coach Pursley also outlined the programme for Jackson
“As stated earlier Ali still has a focus on development and training. We have had talks on a four year plan for her working backwards from Tokyo. To stay on schedule and continue to develop we try to limit travel and rested competitions to 3 per year the first two years of the quad. April, early August, and December are the three best opportunities for competitions to allow full training cycles between each and to be sure she is getting the training and development she needs. If we add big travel competitions in between we lose 2-3 weeks depending on the rest each time when we could be improving capacities in strength, aerobic, or neural. Because Ali isn’t at the top yet we need to continue to focus on where she wants to be rather than showcasing where she is. This summer she will be traveling to St. Petersburg Florida August 2nd-5th for the ISCA Senior Summer Championships. This is a P/F LCM meet that is at the perfect competition level where Ali will have plenty of swimmers seeded in front of her to go after but will also have opportunities to compete for medals if she is at her best. With one travel meet to focus on we won’t lose any training time and can prepare fully for her swims.
In 2019 we will still travel 3 times but will reduce the number of full tapers in the year, to two in order to get a full strength progression in time for a hopeful Pan Am performance. From there we will have answers to the best plan forward. In summary we have a long term developmental focus right now”.
The final night of competition on Tuesday April 18 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre in the pool events was a very successful one for Team Jamaica .The team swept all the girls 200 freestyle relays, the 11-12 ,13-14 and 15-17 age categories. This is the first time that all the girls 200 metre freestyle relays were swept by one nation in over a decade. The last time was at the 2005 CARIFTA Championships in Curaçao by a powerful French Antilles team. In addition to that all the relay teams won in both new CARIFTA and National record times except for the 15-17 girls team that were outside the CARIFTA record time. The girls in the 15-17 were none the less outstanding having swept all the relay in their age group the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays as well the 400 medley relay. That was the first time one nation has dominated the 15-17 age group in that fashion in almost a decade. The last time was the 2008 CARIFTA Championships in Aruba by strong Bahamian team that included Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. Nathaniel Thomas ensured the Jamaican boys were represented on top of the podium as he crowned himself the fastest 11-12 boy in the CARIFTA region. The final day medal haul was Four Gold, Two Silver and Three Bronze medals for an overall medal tally of 12 Gold, Eight Silver and 10 Bronze medals for 30 medals for the Championship. The best medal total since 2014. The team also equalled their best Gold medal total of 12 in a decade which they achieved at the Kingston Championship in 2013.Team Jamaica placed sixth overall with 530.50 points. The tally for personal bests increased to 92 with 17 new personal standards on the last day with 21 top eight performances.
Nicholas Vale,Sean Douglas-Gooden,Adrian Grant and Jesse Marsh
200 metre freestyle relay
Day 4,April 18,2017
400 metre freestyle
400 metre freestyle
400 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
100 metre breaststroke
200 metre backstroke
200 metre backstroke
200 metre backstroke
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
50 metre freestyle
200 metre backstroke
200 metre backstroke
Thomas earned the lone individual Gold medal of the night when he clocked an impressive personal best of 26.52 to capture Gold. Nathaniel’s win placed him as the fastest 11-12 boy in the CARIFTA region as well as putting him with striking distance of Jamaican age group star Brad Hamilton’s age group mark of 26.29. The mark was set in 2002 before Thomas was born. The last time Jamaica won the event was in 2002 when Hamilton won in a time of 27.24.
The impressive relay Gold rush started with the win by the 11-12 girls team. The squad of Paig’e Lewis, Isabella Sierra, Sabrina Lyn, and Zaneta Alvaranga were without equal as they stormed to the victory in a new CARIFTA and National time of 1:55.77. They won by over a second. The old national standard of 1:57.60 was set back at the 2012 CARIFTA Championships by the team of Angara Sinclair, Anjuii Barrett, Tiara Myrie and Annastazia Chin. That team had equalled the 2009 record held by the Barbados team of Z Holder, D Small, I Sherry, and A Gibbs. The last time Jamaica had won Gold in the event was at the Kingston Championship when a 2013 team of Anjuii Barrett, Annabella Lyn, Jada Newel and Llori Sharpe clocked 1:57.76.
The 13-14 team of Gabrianna Banks, Simone Vale, Brianna Anderson and Emily MacDonald were in similar destructive win in the 200 metre freestyle relay. They crushed the field by more than two seconds to win a new CARIFTA and National record time of 1:50.77.They bettered the Jamaican mark of 1:52.78 set by the Bronze medal winning team of Anjuii Barrett, Annabella Lyn, Bryanna Renaurt, and Britney Williams at the 2015 CARIFTA Games in Barbados. The regional standard of 1:51.30 was also set in Barbados by the Aruban team of, Keeley Maduro, Elisabeth Timmer ,Anahi Schreuders and Florence Kock.
The 15-17 girls team of Angara Sinclair, Bryanna Renuart, Shaun Johnson and Anjuii Barrett also had a convincing win in their age group winning by over a second. They stopped the clock in 1:49.07. That bettered the Silver medal winning performance from 2016 in Martinique. That team of Kelsie Campbell, Bryanna Renuart, Shaun Johnson, Angara Sinclair had set the Jamaican standard of 1:50.85.The Gold medal represents the first time a Jamaican team has been on top of the podium in over 15 years.
Zaneta Alvaranga rattled the national 11-12 record in the 50 metre freestyle when she clocked 27.56 for the Silver medal. The national record is held by Emily MacDonald at 27.53 set at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships.
The Silver medal winning 11-12 boys 200 metre freestyle relay team of Joshua Alleyne, Nikolos Gordon Somers, Jaleel Samms, Nathaniel Thomas touched in a total time of 1:53.80.It the first medal in the age group since the national record was set by the Bronze medal winning team of Keegan Rose, Chay Stewart, Jesse Marsh and Jordon Hines at the 2013 CARIFTA Championship.
Bryanna Renuart repeated her 2016 Bronze medal winning performance in the 100 metre breaststroke when she hit the pads in 1:16.90. She continued the Jamaican streak of medalling in the event annually since 2012.
Kyle Sinclair won the first medal in the boy’s 13-14 50 metre freestyle in over 5 years when he won the Bronze medal in a personal best of 25.16.
Teammate Gabrianna Banks ended an even longer medal drought when she won Bronze in the 13-14 girls age group in a time of 27.35.It has been over a decade since Jamaica won a medal. The last time was 2006 when Lanessa Downs Won Silver in 28.47.
On Day 7 of the Olympic swimming programme Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace from the Bahamas and Mehdy Metella (French Guiana/France) established themselves as the best from the region in the 50 metre butterfly and 100 metre freestyle respectively.
In the heats of the 50 metre freestyle Arianna worked her way to the semi finals of the event with a quick 24.77 which placed her 13th overall. In the semi-finals she was a mere .09 of a second outside of the final when she registered a time of 24.60. That time stands as the fastest time ever done by a swimmer from the CARIFTA region. The previous fastest mark was also held by Vanderpool –Wallace when she swam 24.64 at the London 2012 Games.
Metella, who had the day before established himself as the fastest swimmer from the region in the 100 metre butterfly when he stopped the clock at 51.71 in the heats would be even faster in the final. He would turn at the 50 metre in 24.24 and come home in 27.34 to establish a new CARIFTA region best time of 51.58 and place 6th. He is the only sub 52 seconds swimmer the region has produced.
Allyson Ponson of Aruba became the fastest female swimmer for her country at the Games when she touched the pads in a time of 26.00 in the 50 metre freestyle for 45th overall. The previous best of 28.43 was recorded by Roshendra Vrolijk at the Athens 2004 Games.
Elinah Phillip .Photo courtesy of BVI news.com
Elinah Phillip of the British Virgin Islands lay down the marker for her country as she became the first person to compete in swimming at the Olympics. She had an effort of 26.26 in the 50 metre freestyle which placed her 48th .
Also creating history for her country was Bermuda’s Rebecca Heyliger who became the first female swimmer to compete in the 50 metre freestyle. She swam to a time of 26.54 to place 52nd overall.
Another swimmer setting new standards was Antigua and Barbuda’s Samantha Roberts. She became the fastest swimmer from her country regardless of gender at the Games when she clocked 27.95 in the heats of the 50 metre freestyle. The previous best was 30.01 registered by Karin O’Reilly Clashing at the London 2012 Games.
Jamila Sanmoogan of Guyana became the first female swimmer to compete in the 50 metre freestyle at the Olympics. She posted a time of 28.88 for 63rd overall.