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).
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
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.
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
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’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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The team is being coached by Miss Gillian Millwood
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”.