One swimmer who will be good form and one of the stars to watch at the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla Colombia will be Curaçao’s Chadé Nercisio . At the recently concluded 2018 Michael Lohberg Invitational held in Coral Springs Florida Nercisio lowered her country’s national record in the 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre backstroke. Already the fastest age group 50 metre butterflier the CARIFTA region has ever produced with a time of 27.55 she reaffirmed her position with record breaking exploits in Florida.
On Sunday June 17 the East Coast Aquatics Swimmer showed her hand in the morning preliminaries of what was to be expected in the Championship final when she put down a marker of 27.90. That was the third fastest time of her career and the fourth time under the 28 seconds barrier.
In the final of the 15 and over event she brought the heat and powered her way to a new PB, Age Group Record and Senior National record of 27.47. She won by more than half a second and it brings her closer to the 2018 Hangzhou China World Short Course Championships and the 2019 Gwangju , Korea World Long Course Championships B time of 27.26.Her time would have also won her the Bronze medal at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz Mexico.
Winning the Silver was her teammate Madison Cummings who was timed in 28.02 PB and the Bronze went to Azura Florida Aquatics Patricia Casellas 28.60. Patricia recorded a PB of 28.56 in the heats.
Earlier at the meet she recorded national records in both the heats and final of the 50 metre backstroke as she clocked times of 31.07 and 30.32 .That was a big time drop from her previous personal best and national record of 32.32 that she recorded in the heats of the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships in The Bahamas. It would be another one two punch by the East Coast Aquatics Team as Cummings again took silver this time in 31.07. Bronze went to Solana Capalbo in a time of 31.62.
When draftingthecaribbean contacted Nercisio she gave her thoughts about training heading into the competition and if she expecting those records
“Training has been really hard since summer started So no I was definitely not expecting those records. As a matter of fact i didn’t know they were records I just knew I dropped time”.
In 2017 St Lucia’s Naima Hazell ended a more than decade long 11-12 50 metre breaststroke medal drought for her country when she won Bronze in the 50 metre breaststroke . The last time St Lucia was on the medal podium was through the efforts of Sara George when she took the Silver in 38.42 at the 2005 CARIFTA Championships in Curacao.She would keep the medal winning streak alive and match the quality of Sara’s medal with a Silver medal winning and a new age group record of 35.87.
In the 50 metre freestyle she showed showed great improvement by moving from 18th in 2017 to winning another Silver in a time of 27.87 a new age group national record and not far off from the senior national record of 27.63.
In 2017 Team St Lucia won four medals in The Bahamas Two Silver and Two Bronze medals. In Kingston they earned five medals Three Silver and Two Bronze medals,
When draftingthecaribbean contacted Naima she spoke to us about training before CARIFTA, if she knew what the senior record was before and gave us a description of her two medal winning efforts.
“My coaches started off with a plan which included morning training session and dryland session to compliment my afternoon training however we were faced with the a setback where the facility that we trained at had to be closed for about 1 month due to a leakage in the pool which had to be repaired. We used the beach and the Pool at a hotel for our training until we were able to return to the Aquatic Centre. Overall the training was difficult especially the early mornings however I knew it was necessary in order for me to be prepared especially since we do not have a 50m facility.To be honest I was not aware of what the Senior National record was. My goal is always to perform better at every meet and to PB. I also had high hopes of medalling.I was focused for both of my races. I knew I had to work hard if I had any chance of medalling. My 50 M breaststroke, I went in with the aim of getting that goal medal, however I had a bad breakout and this cost me the gold medal, I had to work extremely hard to catch up with the other swimmers to capture the silver medal. For my 50 freestyle I believe I had a very good swim and my execution was good. I kept my head down and did limited breathing until I touched that wall. My aim was to swim faster than the prelims.
In her plans for the rest of the year
The other major meets for this are as follow:
BASA Invitational in May
CCCAN Swimming Championships in June
OECS swimming Championships in November
ASATT in December
My goals for the 50 M freestyle and 50 M Breaststroke for the CCCAN championships is to PB and hopefully medal for my country and ASATT to work hard to break the existing records in both events.
Draftingthecaribbean also spoke to the President of the St Lucian Amateur Swimming Association Mr Eddie Hazell (who is her father) about her improvement since 2017
It’s a few things but namely it’s the added time in the pool, she is a bit more focused and with the added time she is building endurance and strength. The extra time In the pool makes the difference because now you could complete herworkout that we’ve been wanting to have. Before we work trying to fit that same workout in 1 hr and it just wasn’t feasible. But now we have the sufficient time so she could rest when needed and we’re able to get more meters in during the wk
He also commented on progress has been made in terms of the quality of the performances and new age group records what has accounted for the overall St Lucian progress and what formal plans are in place to direct these talented athletes towards Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Since assuming office, my executive has taken a holistic approach towards the development of the sport. Currently we are working on providing our locally based national swimmers with opportunities to train in a 50m facility in neighboring Martinique. We are hoping to do so on a fortnightly basis. This is in addition to them following their club regiment of training. We have recognized that our swimmers needed to be exposed to both types of facilities. A rigorous dry land programme can also be held accountable for their success and will be stepped up in the long run. Strengthening our institutional framework is allowing us to provide a better balance between our learn to swim and competitive programmes. Our International governing body has made funding available for some of our initiatives. This will be filtered down to both the club and national programmes. Pool time and costs of training are critical issues which we are engaging all stake holders to find the best possible solutions. The quality of our coaches is also being addressed by affording them the opportunity to upgrade their skills using FINA sponsored clinics. We are also in talks with our French counterparts to assist us in this regard. We will continue to engage all stakeholders in an effort to improve the swimming product coming out of St. Lucia.
The twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago made their first foray into swimming at the Commonwealth Games when the contingent of Laura de Neef , Geoffrey Ferriera and Johny Littlepage competed at the 1966 Games in Kingston Jamaica. Some 52 years later which has seen the participation 17 swimmers at 11 Games the the medal podium breakthrough has been made in the 50 metre butterfly.
After posting times of 23.62 in the heats and 23.90 in the semis ,Carter got the job done with a Silver medal winning performance of 23.67 to finish behind South African Chad Le Clos who took Gold in 23.37. The Bronze medal went to another South African Ryan Coetzee in 23.73.
Just as Carter had held his hand to be counted as one of the best with a Trinidad and Tobago and CARIFTA region first at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Dubai,United Arab Emirates where he won Silver in the same event he provided that chapter changing moment again at Optus Aquatic Centre on April 6 in Gold Coast Australia. Coetzee, is another swimmer successfully navigating senior waters had placed fifth in the 2013 World Junior Championships in the same event.
Draftingthecaribbean spoke General Secretary of CCCAN Maureen Croes today and for asked her thoughts about the progress being made in Caribbean swimming and of Carter’s accomplishments
“Indeed a historic moment!
CCCAN is incredibly proud and excited about this medal. Over the past years, there have been several athletes in the aquatic disciplines from our region who have been able to break into the top. This is an indication that the aquatic disciplines are developing and improving and that our leaders, our coaches, our parents and our athletes are able to find ways to continue their development beyond the age group levels. I think that the combination of the financial help and the availability of clinics, schools and scholarships from FINA and Olympic Solidarity, the cooperation between CCCAN and UANA, and the more professional way that the federations in our region are approaching the aquatics, all contribute to the development. I look forward to seeing more of our athletes winning medals and making finals at big meets like this one”.
At the start of the 2017 -2018 season The University of South Carolina’s Albury Higgs had a 200 yard breaststroke personal best of 2:11.49. Such was the improvement that has occurred throughout the season she brought down that personal standard to 2:08.90. Not only is she the top ranked CARIFTA region swimmer throughout the NCAA but also the first female swimmer to earn a second swim at the NCAA Division I championships in over six years.
The Bahamian sophomore added to her own swimming legacy competing in the 200 yard breaststroke on Saturday March 17 in Columbus Ohio during the morning heats.Albury split 1:01.59 on her way to 2:08.90. That swim bettered her 2:09.23 PR set the 2018 SEC Championships.With that performance she qualified for the B final. In that race would record the third fastest time of her career to place seventh in 2:09.45.
With her morning heats swim Albury became the first Gamecock to earn a second swim at one of the world’s toughest meets since 2014. She also moved to number three on the school’s list as top performers. Higgs has also closed the gap between herself and the CARIFTA region’s best time of 2:06.99 set at the 2009 NCAA Championships by CARIFTA legend Alia Atkinson
South Carolina Best All Time Performers
CARIFTA Region Best All Time Performers
The 100 yard breaststroke saw her placing 43rd in 1:01.27 (split time 28.67) ,just off her personal best of 1:01.02.The Gamecocks finished 20th with 46 points.
The University of South Carolina’s Bahamian sophomore Albury Higgs booked her ticket for the NCAA finals at the March with a personal best in the 200 yard breaststroke at the South Eastern Swimming Championships.
Competing at the Texas A &M Natatorium on Feb 18 Higgs recorded the best time ever for a female swimmer from the CARIFTA region with her morning swim 2:09.46 (split time 1:02.29) in over a decade.That performance earned her a second swim to the Championship final.
The best time done in the event since 2009 when Alia Atkinson won the NCAA Silver in the event in 2:06.99. Higgs would have more left in the tank as she placed 8th in an even faster time of 2:09.23 (split time 1:01.75). Higgs topped her 2017 performance when she placed 5th in the B final in a time of 2:11.48 (split time 1:03.23).
Her progress in the event should come as no surprise as she was dominated the 15-17 age group in the 200 metre breaststroke at the CARIFTA level .Albury won the 200 metre breaststroke race in 2015,2016 and 2017.
She would also record personal bests in the 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard breaststroke. In the medley event she dropped a second from 2:01.42 to 2:00.41. The difference was due to being more aggressive in the first 100 yards as her split was 57.23 compared to the 58.41 that she did in November at the Georgia Tech Invitational when she recorded her then personal best.
In the sprint breaststroke she bettered her 2016 personal best of 1:01.64 to clock 1:01.02 (split time 28.56) to qualify for the B final. In that final she would record the second fastest time of her career to place fifth in 1:01.34. Again she bettered her 2017 placing when she stopped the clock in 1:02.81 for 25th overall.
Higgs offered a few words to draftingthecaribbean about her SEC efforts
“I had a great time representing the gamecocks at the SEC Championships and was pleased to go all best times in my events. I was really happy with my 200 breaststroke and looking forward to my first NCAA tournament”.
The Barbados Boys at Baylor Jack Kirby and Luis Sebastian Weekes produced yet another series of best times at the 2018 Tennessee State Champs to help their school capture yet another boy’s title.
Jack would start the proceedings by winning the 100 yard freestyle state title in a new personal record. He cruised to the final with a time of 46.35. In the championship final he took the fight to the field early with a split of 21.38.As seen with his improved back end speed in past competitions he out split the chasing pack by recording the fastest last 50 yards of 23.07. He touched the wall in 44.45 , marking his first time under the 45 seconds barrier .His previous best was 45.21 leading off the Baylor team at the SPEEDO Winter Junior championships –East in 45.21 .
He bettered the 2014 time of countryman Christian Selby who won the crown in 44.76 . This is the third 100 yard freestyle title won by a CARIFTA region swimmer from Baylor under the tutelage of Coach Dan Flack . The first Champion being Jamaican Brad Hamilton ,who won in 2007 in a time of 45.15.The swim also places Kirby number two all time at Baylor .
In the 100 yard backstroke Kirby would again cruise to time of 50.36 to easily make the Championship final. In the afternoon’s final it would be a coronation rather than a race as Jack went out in 23.29 for the first 50 and that pace was too hot for the field as he had an advantage of almost a second. And as has been the custom he out split the field over the last 50 yards to post 24.94 and record yet another new personal best of 48.23. His performance is the fourth fastest all time in state history and third all-time at Baylor.
He had previous finishes at the State champs of sixth and eighth.
Road to Gold
In the final race of the day the Baylor team of Trey Freeman 43.87, Piotr Kurleto 45.47, Zach Althoff 45.40and Kirby 44.78 broke the magical 3 minute mark for high school teams to record a new school and Championship record of 2:59.52. That broke the state record set last year of 2017 of 3:01.21 and the school record of 3:00.78 of which Kirby was a member of both teams.
That makes it Six titles in the 400 yard freestyle relay with CARIFTA region swimmers coached by Flack at Baylor following wins with Hamilton in 2008 and 2009 and Selby in 2014 and 2015.
Countryman Weekes did not let the disappointment of a DQ in the 200 yard freestyle relay deter him from doing his best in the 100 yard breaststroke. He won the Bronze in a new personal best of 56.15 (split time 25.80).
It is the first medal for Baylor in the event since Bahamian Dustin Tynes won the title in 2014. Luis is the now fourth all time at Baylor.
Baylor topped the competition for the boys with 315 points. Second went to McCallie with 257 points and third to Memphis University School with 215.Baylor also won the combined title
The final day of competition at the UANA Cup at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex on Jan 21 saw Keianna Moss of The Bahamas and Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago earning medals .
Moss added to the 100 metre backstroke Bronze she had won earlier in the competition when she won the Silver in the 50 metre backstroke in 33.71. The Gold went to Luiza Lima of Brazil in 33.30 and the Bronze to Emilia Julieta Gutierrez Merino of Mexico in 34.16. When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her after the race she had the following thoughts
“In the 50 backstroke I got Silver I executed my race how my coach wanted me to but on my start I went a little too deep. I missed by PB by hundredths of a second. I am proud to bring home the Silver for The Bahamas”.
Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago showed grit and determination to win her first medal of the competition in the last individual race of the meet , the 50 metre butterfly .Anthony had a number near misses before stepping on to the medal podium stopping the clock in 31.44 to win Bronze. Silver went to Paraguay’s Astrid Caballero in 31.42 and the Gold to Mexican Sofia Laureano Perez in 30.14. Anthony was the best placed CARIFTA region garnering 29 points to place 6th overall.When draftingthecaribbean spoke to the versatile youngster she gave her impression of her performances in Florida
“I certainly felt relieved to finish in third place in the 50 fly you don’t want to attend a swim meet of this calibre and go home empty handed I had three 4th places finished in the 400 free, 200 free and a heartbreaker in the 100 freestyle (she was out touched for the Bronze by 0.25 of a second) so my third place finish was indeed very satisfying. Overall the meet was a tough one for me. The competition from the Mexicans and Brazilians was really challenging and the weather on Day One was a significant challenge. My times were much slower than normal for the 400 free and 200IM but overall it was a fantastic experience”.