Day One of the 2018CAC ( Central American and Caribbean) Games saw Olympian Alia Atkinson leading the way for Team Jamaica with Gold in the 100 metre breaststroke in Games Record time. Setting new national marks would be Keanan Dols as well as the 400 metre mixed medley relay team of Dols ,Atkinson,Luke Gunning and Emily MacDonald.
After bettering her old Games record of 1:10.24 in the morning heats Atkinson 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. 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. Her record swim also puts her as the 11th fastest swimmer in the world so far.Her swim qualifies her automatically for the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games as well as the 2019 Gwangju World Champs and 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Champs.
In the morning heats of the 400 mixed medley relay the team of Dols, Atkinson ,Luke Gunning and MacDonald established a new national mark of 4;02.47 to qualify for the Championship final. In leading off the team with his backstroke leg Dols became the Jamaican swimmer under 56 seconds as he clocked 55.78.
That lowered the mark of 56.15 set by Olympian Timothy Wynter at 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships.It automatically qualifies him for the 2019 PAN Games. It was just off the CAC 100 metre backstroke Games record of 55.48. It is also under the B standard of 55.95 for the 2019 World Championships The team would be even faster in the final as they had a total time of 4:01.90 to place fifth.
Dols would be swim in another Championship final as swam in the 200 metre butterfly event. He qualified for the medal race with a new personal best of 2:01.32 (split time of 58.06). In the final he would place eighth in the second best time of his career of 2:02.41. National record holder in the event Michael Gunning still feeling the effects of jet lag clocked 2:03.23 in the heats to qualify for the B final. In that race he was fourth in a time of 2:03.64.Both Keanan and Michael were well under the 2019 PAN AM B time of 2:07.77
Making her senior international debut Bryanna Renuart made her first final in the 100 metre breaststroke. The University of Miami (Ohio) bound swimmer recorded the second fastest time of her career 1:15.13 (split time 34.65) to qualify for the B Final. In that race she was just off her morning swim to place fifth in 1:15.50, the fourth best time in her life.Her morning swim was under the 2019 PAN AM B time of 1:15.38.
Luke Gunning who was a member of the national record breaking relay team swam his first individual race in the Black,Green and Gold in the 100 metre freestyle placed 33rd in a time of 53.42 (split time 25.73).He was just off the 2019 PAN Games B time of 52.79
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
Day Four of the CCCAN Swimming championships saw Team Jamaica adding Four more medals to their tally One Gold , One Silver and Two Silver to have Eighteen medals Six Gold ,Four Silver and Eight Bronze medals.
Getting the Gold for the land of wood and water was Emily MacDonald in the girls 13-14 100 metre freestyle. She bounced back from illness on Day Three to win the freestyle title.
In the Championship final she recorded the only sub 28 seconds split at the halfway mark and then pulled away from the field to record a new personal best and CCCAN meet record of 57.95. It was also the fastest 100 metre freestyle time recorded by a girl at the Championship.
That lowered the the more than three decades old standard of 58.34 byCosta Rican Olympic Gold medallist Claudia Poll (1996,2000 and 2004). MacDonald also is closing in on the national age group record of 57.54 held by Olympian Janelle Atkinson (2000,2004). It was Poll who held off Atkinson to win the Bronze in the 400 metre freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Games . That fourth place position at the Olympics is the joint highest placing at the Games along with Alia Atkinson’s fourth place at the 2012 London Games.
Winning the Silver was Bermuda’s Logan Watson-Brown in 58.82 and the Bronze to Colombia’s Manuela Libreros Bolivar 1:01.38.
It also marked the regional Golden Double as she captured the same title at the CARIFTA Games in her hometown of Kingston in April . It marked the second time she is completing the double after doing so in the 11-12 age group in 2016
Regional record for the 100 metre freestyle
1:02.02 split 29.40
1:00.26 split 29.18
59.28 split 28.33
58.83 split 27.89
57.99 split 28.17
57.95 split 27.79
Emily spoke to draftingthecaribbean about her performance after the race
“Going the 100 I was a bit nervous at first. The meet has not been great so far .In my 200 metre freestyle I got a cramp in my leg and ended up doing a bad time as I added 5 seconds to my personal best and I did not swim the Championship final of the 50 metre butterfly because of that injury and the 100 metre butterfly was not a good race overall.so going into this race I was very nervous as I did not know how I was going to perform because I had not done well so far but I was just going to try my best. That was my mindset heading into the final.I told myself I prepared for this meet and I have trained so hard for this and it does not make sense not swim my heart out. Going into the heats said I am going to just try and hopefully come in the top 8 fand hopefully seed first for the final. That is what I did and ended up doing a 58.70 .Going into the final I was going up again Logan Watson-Brown from Bermuda who I know is a great swimmer and I was even more nervous.I knew I wanted to get a Gold medal but was still not sure because of how I was performing. Before I stepped on the blocks I knew I had done all that I can to get this far and I know that I have done all I could possibly do to achieve a best time in this race so I was going to do what my coach told me to do which was best time.As I swam the race I remembered doing the splits in training and swimming the first 50 in a particular time and pushing hard on the last 25 metres into the wall which I did and recorded a personal best which I am very happy about and I got the Gold medal that I wanted”.
In the Boys 15-17 50 metre breaststroke Cameron Brown ended a decade old medal drought for Team Jamaica when he secured the Silver in a new personal best of 30.23. He tied Brandon Cheong for the medal while the Gold was won by The Bahamas Tyler Russell in 30.16. The last time Jamaica got a medal in the 15-17 age group in this event was in 2007 in El Salvador when age group star Brad Hamilton won Silver in 30.59.
Cameron gave his thoughts to draftingthecaribbean about the swim
“I knew it was going to be straight line line heading to the wall.I pushed to the very last second.I was suprised to see a new PB of 30.23 when I looked at the scoreboard”.
11-12 dynamo Morgan Cogle secured more precious metal at the Championship .She lowered her 100 metre freestyle from 1:03.11 to 1:02.59 to secure Bronze.The title went to Jillian Crooks of the Cayman Islands in a time of 1:01.72 and the Silver to Gabrielle Vickles of Trinidad and Tobago in 1:02.33.
In the 200 metre individual medley she ended a more than decade old drought when she won Bronze in 2:37.44.That medal winning swim puts her within sight of the age group record of 2:36.26 set by Annabella Lyn in 2012. Gold was won by the another 11-12 standout Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago in 2:32.91 and Silver to Crooks in 2:36.70.
Bronze was won by the 15-17 800 metre freestyle relay team of Annabella Lyn ,Gabrianna Banks, Bryanna Renuart and Naomi Eaton who stopped the clock in 9:07.22. Gold went to Aruba in 8:48.55 and the Silver to Honduras in 8:59.65.
The personal best tally moved from 28 to 47 at the end of Day Four
It was the young ladies of Team Jamaica that provided the Gold medals on Day 3 of the 2018 CCCAN Swimming championships on Sunday July 1. Team Jamaica won Four Gold medals along with One Silver and Two Bronze medals to have a Day Three total of 14 medals Five Gold Three Silver and Six Bronze medals.
Leading the way was 11-12 standout Morgan Cogle who started the proceedings in the 200 metre freestyle. She eased in to the finals taking some four seconds off her personal best to be seeded third with a PB of 2:19.47. In the Championship final it was close until the first 50 metres then Morgan and Trinidad and Tobago age group star Zoe Anthony separated themselves from the field .At the 100 it was Zoe with a slight edge 1:04.58 to Cogle’s 1:04.76. She increased that lead at the 150 metre mark 1:39.76 to 1:40.27. Then came an awesome battle on the last 50 metre Morgan came roaring back with a final 50 of 33.89 to Anthony’s 35.01 to win in a new PB and age group record of 2:14.16 to 2:14.77 for Anthony which was also a PB. The Bronze went to the Cayman Islands standout Jillian Crooks in 2:16.95. Both Anthony and Crooks are the reigning CARIFTA Silver and Bronze medallists with times of 2:17.64 and 2:19.09 recorded in Kingston earlier this year.
Morgan lowered the age group mark of 2:15.29 set by teammate Emily MacDonald at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships (CISC) in the Bahamas and become the first Gold medallist for Jamaica in the event in over a decade
Her record breaking exploits would continue in the 400 metre freestyle relay as she anchored the team of Safiya Officer ,Isabella Sierra ,Ireland Hunter to the Gold in a total time of 4:13.74. The Silver went to Trinidad and Tobago in 4:17.32 and the Bronze to Barbados in 4:25.20.
The old record of 4:18.42 belonged to the 2012 CISC team of Angara Sinclair,Tiara Myrie,Annabella Lyn and Annastazia Chin that competed in Aruba
NO LIMITS FOR LYN
Sabrina would complete the butterfly sprint double when she won the 13-14 50 metre butterfly. She came to Aruba with a personal standard of 30.43 . Lyn who is normally know for her back end speed is showing versatility by adding the the sprint fly to her better events. She lowered her personal standard in the morning heats with a time of 30.03 to be the fifth seed heading into the Championship final. The first four finishers clocked 29 s. With teammate Emily MacDonald out the final due to illness Jamaica’s hopes lay solely with Lyn to get a medal. The faith put in her was not misplaced as she destroyed her old personal best and turned in the only sub 29 seconds performance of the race to win in 28.66. Silver went to Bermuda’s Logan Watson-Brown in 29.07 and the Bronze to Colombia’s Laura Catalina Reyes Briceno 29.42
BREAKOUT FOR BRYANNA
The year 2018 will be one to remember for Bryanna Renuart. When the year started she never won any individual Gold but turned that around at CARIFTA when she took the hardest route to Gold and captured the 15-17 400 individual medley title.
A two sport standout in both swimming and cross country track she dropped the latter to focus on swimming. That singular focus has continued to reap big dividends as she won her second career Gold in 5:12.42 holding off the challenges from Alondra Ortíáz of Costa Rica 5:13.30 Silver and Ana Pastrana Honduras 5:14.38 Bronze.
Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Renuart and asked her about her accomplishments
“I was really excited to get another gold in the 400 IM. I wasn’t tapered for this meet as I have a few more this summer, so I was very proud to have found the strength to win it, especially because it is my longest and hardest event. Even though it wasn’t a best time for me, my consistency in that race gives me a lot of confidence for my future competitions with the Jamaican team.I don’t see myself as a natural distance swimmer because I have done better in sprints in the past. Knowing that I am swimming so well in that event right now makes me confident that my training is working. I’m excited to have more event flexibility in the future”.
Nicholas Vale would rattle the 15-17 age group record in the 50 metre butterfly when he won the Bronze in a personal best of 25.59. The national record stands at 25.55 to Olympian Timothy Wynter (Rio 2016) set the 2012 CISC . Gold went Trinidad and Tobago’s Kael Yorke who won in 25.17 and the Silver to Curaçao’s Mauricio Payne in 25.50.
Silver was won by the girls 15-17 400 metre freestyle relay team of Annabella Lyn (1:01.28),Bryanna Renuart (1:01.09),Naomi Eaton (1:02.09) and Gabrianna Banks (1:00.95) in time of of 4:05.37. Gold was won by Aruba in 3:57.72 and the Bronze by Honduras in 4:08.21.
The 11-12 boys 400 metre freestyle relay won the Bronze in a time of 4:11.59.The team of Daniel Mair (1:02.98),Joshua Mair (1:02,81),Jaedon Lynch 1:03.61 and Adrian Balfour (1:02.19) finished behind Trinidad and Tobago 4:01.48 and Aruba 4:11.56.
The Personal best count went to 27 at the end of of Day Three
The 2018 CCCAN swimming championships in Aruba got off to a great start for Team Jamaica on Friday June 29 with national record swims in the mixed 200 metre freestyle relay team in the 15-17 and 13-14 age groups.
The 15-17 relay team of Nicholas Vale, Jesse Marsh,Bryanna Renuart and Gabrianna Banks took the Bronze in 1:42.81 in a very close affair where the top four finishers were within a second of each other.
Gold was won by Colombia in 1:42.20 and Silver went to Bermuda in 1:42.52. The old 15-17 record and senior national record stood to the 2018 UANA team of Shaun Johnson,Marsh, Banks and Vale that clocked 1:43.70 in Coral Springs Florida on Jan 21.
There would be a new 13-14 mixed 200 freestyle relay record established as the team of Nathaniel Thomas (25.52 ), Rin Gyles 26.35, Sabrina Lyn (28.16) and Emily MacDonald (26.75) had a total time of 1:46.78 to win the Bronze medal. Gold went to Bermuda in 1:45.04 and Silver The Bahamas in 1:45.70.
It would be fourth place for the 11-12 mixed 200 metre freestyle relay team of Safiya Officer,Adrian Balfour, Jaedon Lynch and Aliyah Heaven. They stopped the clock in a time of 1:53.95,Splits 28.87,27.61,28.48 and 28.89.
Jordane Payne placed 10th in the 15-17 1500 metre freestyle in a time of 18:42.29.Naomi Eaton placed 8th in the 15-17 800 metre freestyle in a personal best of 10:05.82
CARIFTA 2018 in Kingston Jamaica would be the last for University of Miami Ohio bound Bryanna Renuart.t would also in front of her home crowd. Renuart who had been a mainstay in the Jamaican team since the 11-12 age group had been a major points contributor in the breaststroke and individual medley events but had never tasted Gold in an individual event. That would all change on April 1.
Swimming in the second heat of the timed finals of the 400 individual medley in the afternoon she broke free of the field from the opening butterfly leg with a split of 1:10.10. she would not relinquish that lead at any point in the race and in fact built on it to win by more than seven seconds in a new PB of 5:07.30. The Silver went Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas in 5:14.30 and the Bronze to Sam Bailey of The Cayman Islands in 5:19.11.
That ended a five year Gold medal drought for Jamaica as the last time the country was a top of the long medley podium in this category was in 2013 in front of a home crowd through the efforts of Zara Bailey.It was only the third time in the last 20 years that a Jamaican had won the 400 Individual medley in the category for girls. Olympian Alia Atkinson had won Gold as well in 2006.
When Draftingthecaribbean contacted her on April 14 she had this reaction to her Gold medal winning performance
“I really wasn’t expecting to win any individual CARIFTA events because Lilly Higgs is such a dominant swimmer so I was completely shocked. Even during the race I had no idea I was winning. Standing on the top of the podium and hearing the Jamaican anthem playing because of something I accomplished was incredible.The atmosphere at this CARIFTA from my perspective was the most electric swim meet I’ve ever been to. Having a home crowd reminded the Jamaican team how meaningful it is to represent our country and the extra people cheering for us led to some stand-out swims.”
Since 2014 no other nation other than The Bahamas has won a breaststroke event in the 15-17 girls age group. Thanks to sweeps by Laura Morley in 2014, Albury Higgs in 2015 and the joint efforts of the Higgs sisters Albury and Lilly in the years 2016 and 2017 all other nations have been kept out.
With Laura and Albury now navigating in senior water the defence of the Bahamian streak is left to Lilly and teammate Victoria Russell.
Russell who made her first international final at last summer’s Commonwealth Youth Games will be looking to make her mark at her final year at CARIFTA. She is ranked second in the 50 and 100 metre events and fourth in the 200.
Lilly who has committed to swim for the University of North Carolina this September will be looking to lower the Championship record in all three races. Higgs who has is undefeated at these Championships will be looking to lower her records in the 50 and 100 as well as her sister’s in the 200.
Higgs and Russell will be looking to turn back the expected challenges of Aruba’s Anahi Schreuders, Curacao’s Chade Nercisio and Jamaica’s Bryanna Renuart along with other outstanding swimmers from around the region. After competing in Kingston, Higgs will jet off to make her senior international debut at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in GoldCoast Australia. Currently she is the only Bahamian swimmer to medal at the Commonwealth Games when she copped the Silver medal at the Youth Games at home in 2017.