Barbadian Olympian Alex Sobers established himself as the best from the English speaking Caribbean in the 400 metre freestyle when he had won the 15-17 crown at the now defunct Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships with a time of 3:57.30 in 2016 in The Bahamas.
He would dip under the 4 minute mark again on his Olympic debut at the Rio Games with a time of 3:59.97. Since then it he would have a number of close shaves with that barrier recording 4:00.17 at the 2017 CCCAN Championships in Trinidad and Tobago and 4:00.50 at the 2017 Budapest World Championships.
On July 23 at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla Colombia he registered a preliminary round time of 4:01.42.That propelled him to Championship final. In the final that afternoon he destroyed his old national mark to place seventh in 3:55.50.
400 metre freestyle
2018 CAC Games
First 100 metres
Second 100 metres
Third 100 metres
Fourth 100 metres
Speaking to draftingthecaribbean after his record swim Sobers said “I am really proud and excited to do 3:55 which is a best time and to break my national record as I was struggling to produce a sub 4 minute swim for a really long time”
Alex bettered the 2019 Gwangju LCM World Championships and 2018 Hangzhou SCM World Championships B standard of 3:56.14. He is closing in on the the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games automatic qualifying standard of 3:54.44 and as well as the provisional Tokyo 2020 B standard 3:53.58. The final Olympic standards will be ratified in December by FINA.
Alex will be in his junior college at Emmanuel College which is now a full member of the Division II and will be a member of the Conference Carolinas. For the 2017-2018 season he was named by his school as the Male Athlete of the Year Annual Leo Athletic Awards. He hold the school records in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle with times of 1:35.95 and 4:27.56.
In another wonderful night of swimming by the CARIFTA region at the 23rd CAC (Central American and Caribbean) CAC)Games at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex in Colombia, it was Team Trinidad and Tobago that lead the medal performance with Gold and Bronze by Dylan Carter in the 50 metre backstroke and a Bronze medal won by the 400 metre freestyle relay team .
The fourth day of action got under way on a good note in the heats with David McLeod returning a personal best in the 50 metre backstroke heats with a time of 25.85 to place third . It was also for that time the fastest swim ever by a Team TTO member at the CAC Games The meet record was broken by 2014 Silver medallist Venezuela’s Robinson Molina who topped the heat with a time of 25.21. That would not last very long as those record would fall to Carter who record a new PB, national record , and Games record of 25.01. The old national record had stood to Olympic Gold medallist George Bovell III set almost exactly 4 years ago at 25.39.It also stood as the fastest time ever from the CARIFTA region. Carter’s heat swim was also the 17th fastest time in the World this year. With Carter a clear favourite the question now was would Team TTO be able to get two swimmers as they had done in the 50 metre butterfly With past Champions and medallists such Colombia’s Omar Pinzon and Molina set to contest the medal race.
In the Championship final it was a matter of question asked and emphatically answered. Carter would take the Gold in a another new PB, NR and Games record of 24.83, the first man under 25 seconds at the CAC Games and also the 10th fastest time in the world this year . It obviously qualified him for the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships as the A standard is 25.17 Silver went Molina in 25.25 and the Bronze to McLeod in a personal best of 25.55 with 2010 Champion Pinzón placing fourth in 25.71. It is a big improvement for David as he placed seventh in Veracruz Mexico with a time of 26.87.
See video by TEAM TTO
With the Gold and Bronze in the race Team TTO have a complete set of medals with Bovell’s Silver in 2010 (26.08) and Bronze in 2014 (25.91) and have begun work on a another set. It is also first time Team TTO has placed two persons on the podium and second CARIFTA region victory with Olympian Nicky Neckles winning the first Gold in 2006 (26.44). Team TTO has won a medal at every edition of the Games as Barbados Olympian Nicholas Bovell won Bronze in 2006 (26.82).
The 400 metre freestyle relay team easily qualified for the final with a time of 3:27.77. With the lineup of swimmers assembled in Barranquilla it would always be a question of how much the national record of 3:25.73 set at the 2010 edition of the Games would be lowered by and if it could get them a podium place.
The final had them using Carter on the opening leg to give them a lead and keep them in medal contention . The strategy worked as the splits of Carter 48.79 , Jabari Baptiste 51.74, McLeod 51.44 and Joshua Romany’s anchor leg of 50.86 sealed the Bronze with an overall time of 3:22.83. Dylan’s opening leg also lowered his 100 metre freestyle Games record set on the opening day and ranks him 14th in the world
100 FREESTYLE GAMES RECORD PROGRESSION
First 50 metres
Second 50 metres
Silver went to Venezuela in 3:20.43 and the Gold to Mexico in 3:18.60, Games record.
See video of race by Team TTO
Team TTO is the only CARIFTA region team to medal in this relay. This follows on Silver medal winning performances of the 1986 team of Mark Andrews, Rhett Chee Ping,Bruce Kaufmann and Andre Dieffenthaller (3:33.08) and the 2010 team of George Bovell III, Caryle Blondell, Joshua McLeod and Jarryd Gregoire (3:25.73). This medal performance also raises hopes of the team swimming more often to get into a World top 16 position and make 2020 Olympic relay qualification possible . Team TTO Bronze medal winning time is currently the 11th fastest time in the world by a country.
Kael Yorke became yet another CARIFTA 2018 Champion to make a medal final as he continues to put together an impressive final year as a junior. He rose to the challenge of competing in senior waters to record a personal best in both the heats and Championship and place seventh. He was timed in 54.27 just outside off the 15-17 age group record of 54.21 held by Carter.
The fourth night of action the at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia on Saturday night at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex saw three CARIFTA region ladies as they won the first ever medals for their nations in their respective events.
Starting the medal run Was Albury Higgs of The Bahamas. Albury has been having quite the summer lowering the national records in the 100 and 200 metre breaststroke right before the Games . She was expected to be in form at the meet and she was. She qualified for the 200 metre breaststroke Championship final with a time of 2:32.90 just her national standard of 2:32.30 set at the Bahamian REV national championships in June. Joining in her in the final was countrywoman 2:33.90 Laura Morley who made the Championship finals in all the breaststroke events, the 50,100 and 200 .
With increased speed evidenced by her national record of 1:10.77 in the 100 metre event in the United States Albury pushed the pace in the final turning at the 100 metre mark in a time of 1:12.59 in the Silver medal position.She held that placing until the last couple of metres when Mexico’s Esther Gonzalez Medina passed her. That early front end speed would pay off as she just just held off Morley to take the Bronze in 2:30.83 to 2:31.02 .Both ladies went well under the old national mark and were well under the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games automatic qualifying standard of 2:34.43. Both swimmers achieved the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships B standard of 2:31.02. With her Bronze medal she becomes the first Bahamian man or woman to win a medal in the event.She also becomes the fastest ever CARIFTA region swimmer at the Games as she bettered Alia Atkinson’s 2006 effort of 2:30.99. Only Atkinson and now Higgs have ever medalled in the event for the ladies. It also marks the first medal for Albury in the senior ranks
Higgs offered this reaction to her historic swim
“It was an exciting swim and I was very happy with the best time and record, as well as a bronze for team Bahamas!”
Gold went to the Mexican duo of Byanca Melissa Rodriguez Villanuez in a Games record of 2:25.60 and the Silver to Gonzalez Medina in 2:29.72.
Known primarily for her distance exploits Joanna Evans has taken the opportunity to add a few other events to her schedule and it has resulted in medal winning performances.In the 100 metre freestyle she set a new personal best to win the Silver medal. She had set the national record of 4:59.25 in the 400 metre individual medley as a junior swimmer at the 2015 CARIFTA Games in Barbados which still stands today. in qualification she cleared that mark with a time of 4:57.56. In the final she blew that mark away with a swim of 4:50.38 to land the Silver. Joanna becomes the first Bahamian woman to medal in the event. Both record breaking swims were under the 2019 LIMA PAN AM Games mark of 4:57.99. The only other swimmers from the CARIFTA region to medal at the Games are Gold was won by Puerto Rico’s Kristen Romano in 4:46.31 and the Bronze by Monika Gonzalez Hermosillo in 4:52.13. She gave an assessment of the race and the humid conditions to draftingthecaribbean
“Honestly there was not much of a strategy except to go out and race and see what I can do.It is really hot .We are just hydrating and trying to stay out of the sun”.
CARIFTA REGION MEDALLISTS THROUGH THE YEARS
Rhett Chee Ping
Trinidad and Tobago
Competing in her third CAC Games Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson created another first by medalling in the 100 metre butterfly. No Jamaican man or woman has ever made it to the podium in the event . Last night she took the Bronze medal in the event in a time of 1:00.13 (split time 27.34). Silver went to Venezuela’s Isabella Paez 1:00.04 and Gold to Miriam Guevara Hernandez in 59.13. Alia’s medal winning time was the second best effort of her career as her national record stands at 59.94 (split time 28.44) when she beat Paez (1:00.47) for the Gold at the 2017 Southern Zone Sectional Championship.
FEMALE CARIFTA REGION MEDALLISTS THROUGH THE YEARS
Another of the region’s top junior swimmers showed the class of swimmer the CARIFTA region is producing by making a major senior international final. It was the turn of Jack Kirby of Barbados who qualified for the 100 metre backstroke final.
Coming to the championships Kirby was a known quantity regionally in the junior ranks .This was evidenced by his season where he set the Championship record at the UANA Cup with a national record of 56.34 and a Championship record and the fastest time ever at CARIFTA of 56.59.
He would break his 15-17 age group national record with a time of 56.22 to place second in heat 1 . His speed endurance was seen with the fastest second 50 metres of all the swimmers as he moved from fourth to second with a 28.64 clocking. The swim also moved him to the top of the list in terms of Barbadian 100 metre backstroke performances as he bettered the previous best time of CAC legend Nicky Neckles in his Silver medal winning performance at the 2010 Games.
Neckles won a complete set of medals in the event Bronze in 2002, Gold in 2006 when he swept the 50, 100 and 200 events and Silver in 2010.
In the final he changed tactics and went out hard and was second at the turn in 26.77. He could not withstand the charge from the field and placed a creditable fifth in yet another national age record time 56.19.
NATIONAL AGE GROUP RECORD PROGRESSION
CAC 2018 heats
CAC 2018 Final
First 50 metres
Second 50 metres
Draftingthecaribbean contacted Kirby and got his reaction about his swim
” I was hoping for 55 but my finals event wasn’t executed properly. The race was exciting though as everyone was close”. His record swims were all under the automatic A standard for the Youth Olympics of 56.96 ,and the 2019 PAN AM a standard of 56.49. It also brings him closer to the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM) B standard of 55.95 and the 2011 national senior record of 55.88 held by Olympian Bradley Ally.
Friday July 21 at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean saw three of the CARIFTA region’s biggest stars Olympians Joanna Evans of The Bahamas , Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago and Alia Atkinson of Jamaica win Gold in Games Record times.
The historic Gold Rush was started by Evans in the 400 metre freestyle.She easily qualified for the Championship final with a time of 4:16.63 . Her medal final saw her putting on masterclass on how to swim the event.The race was effectively over as a contest when Joanna took out the first 50 metres in 28.80. At the 100 metre mark when she split 59.59 the question on everyone’s mind was how much she would lower the 2010 Games record of 4:11.36 Venezuelan Olympian Adreina Pinto. With a final 50 metres of 31.61 she would just get by the record with a time of 4:11.15. With her win she becomes only the Second woman from the CARIFTA region to win Gold in the event following Suriname’s Carolyn Adel victory in 1998. Evans also upgrades her Silver medal from 2014 to Gold and moves from a tie with Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson as the best placed English speaking swimmer in the event. She also joins Mexican Maria Souza as the only women to have won Silver and Gold in the event. Souza took Silver in 1959 before going on to win Gold in 1962 in Kingston Jamaica.
Silver went to Mexico’s Allyson Macias Alba in 4:14.74 and the Bronze to Costa Rica’s Helena Moreno Hernandez in 4:15.51
Carter ensured the CARIFTA Golden streak with his own historic swim .After making the final as the second seed with a time of 49.24 . It would be time to bring SHOWTIME to Barranquilla Colombia Team TTO style. When the gun started it be another CARIFTA region star that would take out the first 50 metres as Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe split 23.03. However Carter split 23.29 worked his underwaters and when he popped up it was SHOWTIME . He came home in the second fastest 50 metres of 25.66 to take the Gold in a new Games Record of 48.95 , the first CAC Games swimmer under 49 seconds. That bettered the 2014 Games record of 49.00 held by Cuban Olympian Hanser Garcia. With his record swim he became the first Man to win the 100 metre freestyle crown from the CARIFTA region as the previous best placing had been Silver medals won by countryman Olympian Mark Andrews in 1986 and Cayman Islands Olympian Shaune Fraser in 2006. Team TTO now has a complete set of medal in the events rounded out by Olympic medal winner George Bovell III’s Bronze in 2006. Silver went Aruban Olympian Mikel Schreuders in yet another national record time of 49.17 , the first medal ever for Aruba in the event. Bronze went to Jorge Andres Iga Cesar in 49.28. Tjon A Joe placed fifth in a time of 49.38 and Barbados Olympian Alex Sobers eighth in a personal best time of 50.51. Both swimmers were just off their respective national records of 49.29 and 50.40. Carter spoke about this journey to 100 metre freestyle Gold to TEAM TTO
Anchoring this Golden run on the opening day of the CAC Games was Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson . After bettering her old Games record of 1:10.24 in the morning heats she was the second seed with a 1:08.00. Also under the record was Byanca Rodriquez Villanuev who just edged Alia with a time of 1:07.99.The two ladies swam in the last of the morning heats side by side.Rodriquez Villanuev had gained the early advantage then with a split of 31.28 to Atkinson’s 31.32. So the setting was clear for the final as it would be between Byanca and Alia. In the Championship final there would be no synchronized swimming as Alia got her customary bullet start and gave the field too much to handle with a split of 30.85. After an excellent pullout she also turned in the best last 50 metre of 35.98 to ensure that the CAC Games record remained in Jamaica with a final time of 1:06.83.
With the that win she breaks the tie with Mexico’s Silvia Rivero who won the titles in 1982 and 1986 as she now has crowned herself Queen on three occasions 2006, 2010 and now 2018. Atkinson is also the 11th fastest woman in the world with that swim.She is still the only woman from the CARIFTA region to medal in the event. Silver went to Rodriquez Villanuev in 1:07.80 and her countrywoman Esther Gonzalez Medina in 1:10.60. The deep talent pool spread across the region was evident at The Bahamas duo of Lilly Higgs 1:11.32 and Laura Morley 1:12.34 placed fifth and sixth respectively in the Championship final
The morning heats of the 100 metre freestyle saw big time drops for the Team Barbados duo of Alex Sobers and Jack Kirby
Sobers lowered his personal best of 51.82 (split time 25.25) from the TYR Pro Swim Series in Atlanta on March 1 to 50.74 (split time 24.13) to rank 9th overall and qualify for the B final. He will contest the Championship final at 8.22 pm local time. Sobers gave his thoughts to draftingthecaribbean about his PB
“I am happy with the new best time (50.74).Renzo Tjon A Joe (Suriname) was in the lane next to me, so I used that to push me.That swim gave me a positive attitude towards the meet , I am looking forward to the rest of my swims”.
Teammate Kirby was also in record breaking form as he crushed his personal best and national 15-17 age group record of 52.04 (split time 25.70) that he recorded in January at the UANA Cup in Florida to place 10th in a time of 50.97 (split time 25.10). That swim also propelled him past the Youth Olympics A standard time of 51.40.Draftingthecaribbean contacted Kirby and got his thoughts on record swim
“50.97 was a surprise to me because my goal for the race was 51. It felt like a normal 100 free race to me and I believe having older competitors helped my outcome a lot.”
Both swimmers will be chasing top honours in the B final slated for 8:16pm local time as well as the 2019 Gwangju Korea World Championships and 2018 Hangzhou, China World Short Course B time of 50.51. Also in their sights will be the senior national record of Shawn Clarke of 50.40.Clarke set that record leading off the 2009 Rome World championships 400 metre freestyle relay and had an opening split of 24.48
At the recently concluded CCCAN swimming Championships held in Aruba Nigel Forbes continued his epic season in an 11-12 age group division which was brimming with talent. Forbes stood tall among his peers in the breaststroke for 2018 and was unbeaten for the season in that stroke .
It would be the 50 metre breaststroke in which he would make put together a masterpiece of a swim .Already the fastest Bahamian 11-12 breaststroker of all time with 32.54 he now had his sights on the 2005 CCCAN record of Panamanian Arturo Medina of 32.42 .That time tied Bermudan Sam Williamson 11-12 national mark of 32.42 as the second fastest of all time in the CCCAN region. The unofficial record was held by Aruba Jordy Groters at 32.41. Things looked promising for young Forbes when he clocked the fastest time of the preliminaries of 32.99. In the championship Final Forbes took off from the sounding of the starter’s gun and was more than a body length of the field by the 25 metre mark.With the question of the Gold answered what needed to be determined was what the record would be lowered to . Forbes continued to blaze towards the wall and slapped the pads in a time of 32.15 , a new PB, Bahamian , CCCAN Championship record and he can officially hold the moniker of the fastest the region had ever seen in the event. Winning the Silver was Trinidad and Tobago Nikoli Blackman in 34.74 and the Bronze to Edu Trejos in 34.75. It was this event that he created history for the CARIFTA region by winning the first ever Gold medal at the inaugural UANA Championships so it is fitting that he would take the regional Triple Crown UANA , CARIFTA and CCCAN titles in the fastest swim of all time.
The 100 metre breaststroke would see Nigel putting another show of scintillating speed.As with the 50 metre breaststroke he was already the best The Bahamas had ever produced with his 1:12.24 clocking from the REV nationals and was within a hair’s breadth of the CCCAN record time of 1:12.18 set by Olympian Carlos Claverie of Venezuela (Rio 2016) .
Claverie won Bronze at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing China in the 100 metre breaststroke in a time of 1:01.56.
After easing into the final with a time of 1:14.78 he decided to turn on the thrills in the final. When the race started Nigel again separated himself by some distance by the halfway mark turning in 33.13, a split that would have would the Silver in the 50 metre race. He kept applying the pressure and touched in a new PB,Bahamian record and CCCAN Championship record of 1:11.16. Forbes is now the fastest ever swimmer the CARIFTA region has produced in the event.He just missed the unofficial CCCAN 2014 record of 1:10.94 held by Puerto Rico’s Daniel Chevere. The win also marked another Triple Crown performance ( UANA, CARIFTA and CCCAN). Silver went to Panamanian Trejos in 1:13.24 and Blackman won Bronze in 1:16.24.
The 200 metre breaststroke which was Forbes first individual race saw a colossal battle between himself and Trejos. The Panamian started the race with a split of 35.67 followed by Nigel with a 36.50 . They were the only swimmers under 37 seconds for the first 50 metres and well ahead of the rest of the field. Nigel kept closing the gap on Edu until he was ahead by .01 ahead of him coming off the final wall.
He then stepped on the gas to take the win in a new PB and Bahamas record 2:36.00. Forbes just missed another Claverie standard of 2:35.89 but is now the fastest ever 11-12 200 metre breaststroke swimmer from the CARIFTA region. Edu was close behind winning Silver in 2:36.32. Bronze went to Stefan Bonati of the Cayman Islands in 2:49.08.
There would be more Gold for Forbes in Aruba in the sprint butterfly events. In the 100 metre butterfly he won the Gold based on a strong back half. This, as he was behind at the 50 metre mark as the early leaders Christopher Gossmann of Guatemala 29.23 and Trinidad and Tobago standout Zarek Wilson 29.44. Nigel’s split was 30.05. He however provided the fastest last 50 metres to take the Gold in 1:01.95 a new PB and Bahamian record taking almost a second off the 2014 Evante Gibson standard of 1:02.83 .that completed the regional Golden Double as he won the CARIFTA Gold in 1:04.05 earlier this year in Kingston. Silver went to Wilson in a new PB of 1:02.16 and the Bronze to Gossmann in 1:02.23.The same trio finished in the exact same order earlier at the UANA cup with times of 1:03.34,1:03.48 and 1:04.19 respectively
In the 50 metre butterfly he posted the only sub 28 seconds time in the final to win 27.73. Omari Sealy of Barbados took the Silver in 28.17 and Gossman 28.25. He holds the national record at 27.67.
In the 100 metre freestyle he dipped under the 58 seconds barrier for the first time to win Silver in a PB and national record time 57.79.Gold went to Blackman in 57.61 and the Bronze to his teammate Marvin Johnson in 58.75. The old 11-12 record of 57.99 belonged to Lamar Taylor .
There would be another Silver for Forbes and Team Bahamas in the 200 metre mixed freestyle relay.The team of Johnson (27.98),Keianna Moss (28.72) ,Devin Cuffy-Bethel 28.98 and Forbes (25.76) stopped the clock in 1:50.64 just behind Team Trinidad and Tobago 1:50.29 .The Bronze went to the Cayman Islands in 1:52.64. Nigel placed 9th in the 400 metre freestyle.
When draftingthecaribbean contacted the young swimmer he gave his thoughts on his breaststroke Gold medals . He said that he felt great about all the breaststroke races his favourite was the 100 metre race. When questioned about the 200 metre event if he knew about the record and if he could have gone faster he said he did not think he could have gone any faster because he had great competition from his Panamanian competitor (Edu Trejos) and he gave it his all. Forbes now owns 7 of the 16 individual Bahamian national records for the 11-12 age group