One of the brightest prospects this college season has been Bahamian freshman DaVante Carey who competes for McKendree University in the NCAA Division II. After a very successful mid season meet in November he has followed up with even more success and continues to lower his personal best, school records, Conference records and establish himself as one the best swimmers that The Bahamas has ever produced competing in yards.

On the first day Feb 12 of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Championships held at the Crawfordsville Aquatic Center meet he qualified for the B finals. and placed sixth in a new personal best of 1:51.66., That effort was a new school record . That beat the previous record held by Matthew Meals of 1:51.89.Carey started his career in yards with a time of 2:01.53 in October

200 medley relay podium

The pages of the record book continued to be torn up by in the 200 yard medley relay. Already the fastest Bahamian and school record holder in the 50 yard backstroke with his 22.42 relay leg from the Purdue Invitational Carey decided it was time to bring the Caribbean heat to the Conference Champs.He scorched to his first sub 22 second time clocking of 21.88, a new school record and all time Bahamian best also the fourth fastest time in Division II . Teammates John Heaphy breaststroke 23.87,Greg Lichinsky butterfly 21.18 and anchorman Alexander Skinner freestyle 19.38 completed the decisive win in a total time of 1:26.31. Wiped from the record sheet was the old school record of 1:30.14 and the pool and Conference record of 1:28.14. It is also the fastest time in Division II.

Carey in full flight for The Bahamas

In the 100 yard butterfly there would be another impressive time drop. The heats saw he beating his old PB of 49.77 with a 49.18. That secured him a spot in the B final . He proved himself a class apart from the field. Though it is obvious he has the fast twitch fibres a plenty he took the race away from his competitors using his increased speed endurance. He trailed initially with opening split of 22.34. But it was his last 50 of 25.60 that broke the field. He touched in 47.94, the only sub 48 seconds time of the field. It also would have put him sixth in the Championship


Elvis Burrows Photo courtesy of

He is now tied with a CARIFTA region legend Olympian Jeremy Knowles. The only swimmers ahead of him are Olympians Nicholas Rees 47.88 and Elvis Burrows 46.72. Elvis recorded the Bahamian all time best swimming for the University of Kentucky Wildcats at the 2009 SEC Champs

Carey elaborated on that race

Head coach Jimmy Tierney. A veteran coach with 25 years plus experience was named coach of the Year.Photo courtesy of

“Honestly, my morning swim wasn’t a good one at all. I messed up my first two walls. And I only swam 100 fly one other time this season so it was an adjustment I had to make for my evening swim. Coach Tierney just told me to use my speed going out and just bring it back as quick as I can”.

400 medley relay podium

The Nassau native would pull off another double record feat in the 400 yard medley relay. His personal record of 48.95 was just off the school mark of 48.74. His opening leg of 48.36 that now owned all the sprint backstroke records for his school. Carey again proved too good for everyone else.His opening 50 yards split was 23.11 and no one was within half a second of him.He gave his team just the lead they wanted. Heapy breaststroke 53.21,Lichinsky butterfly 47.17 and Matija Pucarevic on anchor 43.32. They stopped the clocked in 3:12.05. That crushed the old school record of 3:14.05 and also downed the pool and Championship record of 3:13.43 set by Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The 100 yard backstroke record would not last the duration of the meet as the reigning CARIFTA Champion in the 50 and 100 metre backstroke proved that previous time barriers mean nothing to him.After cruising to the Championship final with a time of 49.02 he further solidify himself as the backstroker in school and Bahamian history in the 100 yard backstroke. Carey popped a 47.81 to win the Silver . Only Drury University’s Nathan Bighetti was faster with his Gold medal winning time of 47.39. He is also the ninth fastest in Division II


Chris Vythoulkas Photo courtesy of Bahamas Olympic Commitee

Before Carey started competing the NCAA system no Bahamian had bettered 49.00 the standard set by Olympian Chris Vythoulkas. Now Carey has gone faster than 49 seconds and gone under the 48 seconds mark as well.

DaVante gave his insight on winning the Silver medal

100 yard backstroke medallists from left to right Carey Silver,Bighetti Gold Drury and Aidan Glynn Bronze Drury

“It was a race I really wanted to win. However I didn’t, but I wasn’t mad about it because i was happy with the outcome and my time. I knew this was my best chance to win an individual race at GLVC and make my name known. After my prelims swim I knew I could have cleaned up my race and go faster at night and that is what I did and now I am heading into nationals as the 9th seed”.

In the 200 yard backstroke he entered the meet with a 1:53.00. He beat that with a morning swim of 1:52.97. In the B final he decimated that standard with a time of 1:48.80 to finish second in the race. In another demonstration of his increased stamina he closed with the second fastest final 50 yards of 27.68. He is now the second fastest swimmer in the event in school history. That list also includes Cayman Islands representative Cole Morgan who sits at number five.


Carey about to swim the backstroke at the 2019 World Junior champs .Photo courtesy of Drew Bastian

Carey now has esatblished himself as the best backstroker in yards ever from the 50 to the 200. He again bettered another Vythoulkas mark.This time by the slimmest of margins as Chris had swum 1:48.81 at the 2003 ACC’s.

Draftingthecaribbean asked about his increased speed endurance and what training helped for the 200 yard backstroke

“I’ve been doing a lot of pace training and also training at below my pace time so i feel like that helped me a lot. After my morning swim I didn’t think I could have gone faster but. I watched my race to find weak points. So I decided that i would take the first 50 out a bit easier and just build each 50 from there and I think that iss what made the big difference. I really satisfied with the time because my first 200 back of the season I didn’t even break 2:00 and since then I have improved everytime I swam it. I am happy with the time and the training”.

DaVante closed the competition with a 45.10 second leg swim on the Bearcats team that won the B final in a time of 3:01.34.

Draftingthecaribbean also got DaVante to speak about the mindset going into the Conference Champs compared to the mid season invite

“I feel like going into conference was different because the men’s team knew that we had a real shot to win the conference title. So that was really the real motivation heading into conference where as at our mid season meet in November the team goal was to get their NCAA cut early on”.

The team finished second with a total of 1414 points. Topping the men’s competition was the University of Indianapolis with 1452 ,home to CARIFTA region age group stars from Team TTO Kael Yorke and Jeron Thompson. Third went to Drury with 1299 points.


Yet another CARIFTA region swimmer continues to make their mark at the Tennessee high school swim Championships .In 2020 it was Bermudan Logan Watson-Brown showing her class at the Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from Feb 7 to 8. Logan competes for the powerhouse Baylor high school , home to many of the region’s top age group stars over the years.

She made her debut at the State Championships with a preliminary swim in the 200 yard freestyle. That morning on February 7 saw her lowering her personal best from 1:52.65 to 1:51.62 . That swim gained her entry to her first Championship final on her very first attempt.

Logan Watson -Brown

In the evening’s final the defending 15-17 CCCAN 200 metre freestyle Champion would not be denied a place on the podium she crushed her morning effort with a new personal best of 1:49.96 split time 52.66 earning the Bronze.Silver was won by Kalli Chelsvig of Ensworth 1:48.28.Gold was was won by the outstanding Alex Walsh of Harpeth Hall in 1:45.19.

Kimberlee John Williams Photo courtesy of swimswam

The Bermudan is now the fastest CARIFTA region swimmer ever at Baylor bettering Trinidad and Tobago’s Kimberlee John-Williams time of 1:52.02 back in Feb 2012. She also ranks sixth all time at Baylor.

Logan smiles after winning her first TISCA medal .Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

In regional championships Watson Brown has been on a winning streak taking the 13-14 CCCAN 200 metre freestyle in 2018 and doing the regional golden Double in her first year of 15-17 in 2019 taking both the CARIFTA and CCCAN crowns

Logan Watson- Brown atop of the 13-14 medal podium at the 2018 CCCAN Championships
Photo courtesy of CCCAN



The next day in the 100 yard freestyle she continued to set new personal bests.In the morning heats she recorded a time of 51.68. Her old personal best was 51.84. In the 200 yard freestyle relay she produced an anchor leg split of 24.22 to help her team to a total time of 1:36.99 and Lane 4 in the medal final.

She closed the session with a time of 51.93 leading of the Baylor ladies who made it to the Championship final with a total time of 3:34.35.

The final of the individual 100 yard freestyle saw her posting her first sub 51 seconds swim. She clocked 24.39 and raced home to 26.50 to touch fourth in 50.89. Logan was a part of a historic race as the winner Gretchen Walsh of Harpeth Hall won Gold in a time of 46.98, the fastest time ever swum by a high school girl. Silver went to Ellie Taliaferro of GPS in 50.04 and the Bronze to Erin Milligan of Collierville in 50.05.

200 yard freestyle relay Gold medallists from left to right Ellie Waldrep,Jewel Gordon,Watson-Brown and Lydia Bohannon Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

The 200 yard freestyle relay was a coronation ceremony of speed rather than a race as the Baylor team led from the sounding of the starter’s gun to the final touch at the wall. The team of Ellie Waldrep 23.54,Jewel Gordon 23.54, Lydia Bohannon 24.08 and Watson-Brown 23.41. The total winning time is 1:34.37. Brentwood was second in 1:36.61 and Maryville took the Bronze in 1:38.24.

Buoyed by her individual performance she returned to the pool in the last event of the Championships to swim the fastest opening of the 400 yard freestyle relay. Watson -Brown took charge of the race with her opening split of 24.31. The field lost touch with her as she split 26.33 to touch in yet another personal best of 50.64. That gave the Baylor ladies a lead of over 2 seconds.

It would not be enough as the Harpeth Hall team had three swift 49.76 Alex Massey and the Walsh sisters Alex and Gretchen with times of 47.91 and 48.14 to win in 3:20.81. Maryville clocked 3:30.24 for the Silver . Baylor was just out touched clocking 3:30.80 for the Bronze.

400 yard freestyle relay Bronze medallists from left to right Watson-Brown,Bohannon,Caroline Schenck and Lillie Boggs Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

Logan also established herself as the best CARIFTA region swimmer in the 100 yard freestyle at Baylor. This time she downed the 51.58 set by Bahamian Bria Devaux in February 2012. She is also the fifth fastest performer of all time at the Chattanooga based institution

Bria Deveaux Photo courtesy of


Baylor 2012 Photo courtesy islandstats

The state and independent high school record of 1:31.18 is held by the 2012 Baylor team that had three swimmers from the region Bria Deveaux The Bahamas , Kimberlee John-Williams Trinidad and Tobago and Ashley Yearwood Bermuda.

Link to video by Swimming world after they broke the record in 2012

The fastest ever 200 yard medley relay record by a high school boys team either public of 1:27.74 is held by the 2014 Baylor team that included Bahamian Dustin Tynes and Barbadian Christopher Selby.

2014 Baylor medley relay team Christian Selby ,Sam McHugh,Coach Dan Flack, Tynes and Luke Kalizak Photo courtesy of swimming world magazine

Links to race videos and interview in 2014

The state record in the boys 400 yard freestyle relay of 2:59.92 is held by the 2018 Baylor team that included Jack Kirby of Barbados.

Kirby with members of his Baylor relay team Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming
2020 TISCA Girls Champions Photo courtesy of Baylor

Baylor would take defend their girls team title amassing 295 points. Runner up went to Harpeth Hall 220 points and third to Maryville 196 points.

Combined Champions Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

Baylor also secured the combined title for the fourth consecutive year.


Patrick Groters Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Before 2019 became history Aruban Patrick Groters was making his own for Aruba and himself. Competing at the US Open in December Patrick lowered the national record in the 200 individual medley. He crushed the old standard of 2:03.33 set during the preliminaries of the 2019 Pan AM Games in Peru to take it down to 2:01.62  on Dec 5.He set that time during the morning heats of the meet bettering the 2020 Tokyo Olympic B standard of 2:03.26.
That historic swim would earn him a second swim in the B final where he would again be much better than the B standard placing sixth in a time of 2:01.84.

The meet which was held at the McAuley Natatorium , home of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games sees Patrick as fourth  on the all time rankings of the best from the CARIFTA region in the event.

Jeremy Knowles Photo courtesy of Bahamas swimming
Bradley AllyBarbados2008 Olympics1:58.57
George Bovell IIITrinidad and Tobago2004  Olympics1:58.80
Jeremy KnowlesThe Bahamas2008 Olympics2:01.35
Groters Brothers Patrick and Jordy

Patrick is being guided on his road to Tokyo by his older brother Jordy. Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Jordy after the competition and got his thoughts about Patrick’s progression since the PAN American Games in August

“During the taper Patrick was definitely swimming very confidently and doing some pretty good times. Swimming the same race seemed very reasonable. During the race, however, the splits he did were faster than what we had trained for. The butterfly was right on what he needed to be. The 29.9 backstroke and 35.4 breaststroke were absolutely unreal. We had trained to for 30-mids in backstroke and 36 in breaststroke. The freestyle was the only let down of the race, being the only split that was slower than his race at Pan AMs by about half a second. We tried to improve that freestyle in Finals and it was even more obvious in that race how crucial a good closing leg is. Patrick swam in between Will Licon (2019 US PAN AM Games Gold medallist in the 200 IM) and Caeleb Dressel (2016 Olympic Gold medallist,2019 50 metre freestyle World Champion)  in the B final and was ahead of Dressel and right behind Licon at the 150. Dressel’s monster freestyle leg almost won him the race, touching only 0.01 behind Licon. Patrick touched two seconds after them despite being “in the race” at the 150. To be fair, Patrick’s freestyle was a bit faster than the morning but he wasn’t under 30 seconds like he was at Pan AMs. Considering how much of the other splits he improved from Pan AMs, he could’ve been 29 low or maybe even 28 high. Had he done that then he could’ve even been 2:00“.

Record ComparisonPAN AM GamesUS Open
Total Time2:03.332:01.62

Jordy also spoke about the way forward

“Regardless of all these hypotheticals, I was beyond ecstatic with the result. Another giant time drop so close to the last one is a huge confidence booster and a great sign for the coming months. There’s still about 6 months to go before the Olympic qualification window is closed. Six months to work on the back-half and make sure he can race the likes of Dressel and Licon until the end! I believe six months is more than enough time to make another 200 IM improvement and even challenge the A standard. He’ll definitely be challenging the B standards in both Backstrokes, as well. Those events were a little off this meet but the mission was a success. We came here to get a B cut and he was well beneath it”.

Andrew Phillips Photo courtesy of

The CARIFTA region has enjoyed success in this event. In 1984 Jamaican Andrew Phillips became the first person to make the Olympic final placing sixth  in a then national record time of 2:05.60.

Bradley Ally Photo courtesy of panamerican world

In 2008 in Beijing China Bradley Ally of Barbados was just .10 outside the Olympic Final with a semi-final effort of 1:59.53 finishing ninth overall. He had set the CARIFTA region’s fastest time ever with a swim of 1:58.57.

George Bovell III Photo courtesy of

The crowning moment for this event was the Athens Bronze medal swim by Bovell in a time of 1:58.80.

The region is looking forward to seeing what the next few months will hold for Patrick as he looks to add to the Aruban and CARIFTA legacy at the Olympics.


At the 2019 US Open held in December Bahamian Laura Morley made a major move to Olympic qualification with a personal best and new national record and an Olympic B standard time in the 200 metre breaststroke .Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice. She stopped the clock in a new all time Bahamian best first in the heats in 2:27.83 in the heats and then later in the Championship final swam to a time of 2:28.38 .The Olympic B standard is 2:29.89. .Laura has now set the senior national record in the event 11 times.

Laura Morley

Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Morley after the competition about competing as a professional swimmer.The last meet of her collegiate career was the NCAA Division I championships in March 2019.Morley ended her college tenure ended as the fourth fastest performer in Indiana school history in the 200 yards breaststroke with a time of 2:08.16.  The  Big Ten Distinguished Scholar gave her thoughts on how life is different as a professional swimmer compared  to college in terms of training and other areas.

“Thankfully Indiana Swimming allowed me to join the professional team after I graduated in May, so I still get to train with the collegiate team but now without school I have a lot more time to focus on recovery, nutrition and swimming as a whole. The transition has been made a lot easier than I expected and a lot of that is due to having the full support of my coaching staff, weight coaches and former teammates. Becoming a pro swimmer has been such an awesome experience because I can truly focus on my swimming goals and have learnt so much about myself since March”.

Morley en route to a new national record and Olympic B qualifying time

She also spoke smashing her 200 metre breaststroke national mark and getting the Olympic B cut, training and her preparations and expectations before the US Open.

 “I was rested and shaved for US Open! I recently swam at the TYR Pro Series meet in Greensboro the weekend of November 9th and swam right on my best times. That was very reassuring and gave me a lot of confidence in my training all fall. We have been putting in a lot of hard training since I got back to Bloomington in September, so getting some rest at US Open was an opportunity for me to see where my hard training has taken me. I have been working towards getting the B cut in the 200 breaststroke but that was not the expectation heading into US Open. We wanted to take the great racing opportunity at US Open to give me some great racing practice against higher level competition than I was used to.”

Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice .She crushed the national standard from the heats 2:27.83 compared to 2:30.24.Her first 50 was very aggressive compared to her last national record 33.88 to 35.27 and her third 50 as well 37.65 versus 38.65.

Morley before the Championship final
200 metre breaststrokePan Am GamesUS Open
First 5034.7933.88
Second 5038.2637.18
Third 5038.5137.89
Fourth 5038.6538.88
Total Time2:30.212:27.83

Laura gave her insight if the race strategy to attack those two 50’s specifically and if she was very confident in her training to take it out so fast?

“Yes, I was in a very competitive heat in the morning and knew that the girls next to me would throw down some good times, so I took that opportunity to go out and race them. I did take it out more aggressively than normal, but still very control so I could have some speed on the back half of the race. We have been working a lot on 200 pace long course so I had confidence in my training and race strategy”.

Alia Atkinson

Laura is easily the number two all time in the event for the CARIFTA region. The A cut is 2:25.52 and  Olympian Alia Atkinson tops the all-time  CARIFTA ranking with  her national record 2:25.48. The Nassau native is currently faster than the best CARIFTA time posted at the Olympics Atkinson’s then national record of 2:28.77 at the London 2012 Olympic Games .

Adriana Marmolejo Photo courtesy of sala de prensa

She is also faster than the CCCAN best time at the Olympics of 2:28.10 by Adriana Marmolejo which was the then national record for Mexico.

Morley spoke about her next outing and if she had any specific times in mind?

“I am competing at the Knoxville TYR Pro Series meet in January but will be training through that meet and using as racing practice. I do not have any specific times in mind but just want to get more comfortable with my race strategy and racing in competitive heats. I am heading into another hard training block for a few months until I rest again sometime in the spring”.

In the 100 breast Morley was just off her best time of 1:10.44. She took us through that race and what adjustments she would need to make to go after the B cut of 1:09.08.

100 metre breaststrokeMayDec
First 5033.2533.28
Second 5037.1937.18
Total Time1:10.441:10.46

“This fall we have been focusing on the 200 more so than the 100, but using the 100 as good practice for the 200. I was pleased with my morning swim of the 100 as it was just off my best time, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the 200. I have been working on getting my strength and speed up for the 100, but it is still a work in progress! The B cut in the 100 is a great goal to keep in mind!”


Another CARIFTA medallist has shown he is ready for the 2019-2020 season with his good early season form. With Izaak Bastian, the two defending CARIFTA Champion in the 50 metre freestyle and record holder at 23.18 aged out  ,countryman Lamar Taylor is one of those swimmers seeking to keep the title of the Fastest Swimmer at CARIFTA in The Bahamas.

Bastian makes last minute preparations for the 50 metre freestyle in 2018. Photo courtesy of Rochelle Bastian

Taylor, who won the CARIFTA Bronze in the 50 metre freestyle in a time of 23.59, clocked 23.54 at the Milo Butler Blue Waves Swim Invite on October 19. In the 100 metre freestyle he clocked 52.26 .  Also at that meet he had winning performances of 25.68 in the 50 metre butterfly of 25.68 and 2:24.80 in the 200 metre individual medley.

His early season form has left no doubt that he will be one of the contenders for the Crown. A week later at the DSC Invite he stood atop the podium in the 50 and 100 metre backstroke 27.53 and 1:00.44 as well as the 400 metre freestyle and 50 metre breaststroke 4:36.84 and 33.51.

Lamar after setting new PB in the 100 metre freestyle at World Juniors.Photo courtesy of Drew Bastian

The 100 metre freestyle time of 52.26 is the second fastest time of Taylor’s career only bettered by the 51.99  he swam at the World Junior Championships this summer.

Jordan Crooks

In Jamaica at the Dean Martin Memorial meet in October Jordan Crooks of Cayman Islands set new meet marks of the 23.87 and 52.26 in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle events . Jordan had won the CARIFTA Silver medal in the splash and dash in a time of 23.49.He seems set to be much faster come his final Championships. Those swims set both swimmers on the path on what could be the first sub 23 seconds swim at CARIFTA.

Lamar warming up at the World Juniors earlier this summer .Photo courtesy of Drew Bastian

Draftingthecaribbean caught up with Lamar who represents Freeport Aquatics Club but trains with Mako Aquatics Club due to the damage caused by the passage of Hurricane Dorian and asked for his thoughts about his early season form

Lamar Taylor .Photo courtesy of Drew Bastian

“I honestly wasn’t trying to go so fast this early in the season. My 52 came extremely easy for me and I was extremely happy to go that fast with no effort. I feel that since I’m already at a 23.5 right now with only 5 weeks of training with no taper before the meet I feel that I can definitely go a 22.9 or even lower at CARIFTA with God’s help and if I stay healthy. I feel that at CARIFTA I would be going a lot faster because of the way I have changed my training drastically”.

With the speed that the Bahamian men have been showing in recent years most notably with the national record in the 400 metre freestyle relay at the 2019 PAN AM Games in Lima Peru Taylor was asked his opinion about the men getting even faster in that relay as well as the 400 medley with more racing opportunities.

National record holders in the 400 metre freestyle relay N’Nhyn Fernander, Gershwin Greene,DaVante Carey and Jared Fitzgerald

“The question has been put up to the federation and they are working on it. If that works out we can get more swimmers to include myself ,DaVante Carey, Izaak Bastian and Jared Fitzgerald in more relay competition and we can bring down our national time and do some damage in those relays”.

The current Bahamian men’s senior national relay records are listed below

400 metre freestyle relay3:28.222019
400 metre medley relay3:49.362016


Simone Vale represented the Pine Crest School as well as the Green,Gold and Black of Jamaica well at the recent Florida 2A high school Championships held on November 8.

Simone Vale competing in the 100 yard butterfly .Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

Swimming at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center –in Stuart Florida in the 100 yard butterfly she rattled her personal best of 59.49 with a swim of 59.62 (split time 27.47) .That her earned her a lane in the  B final, a first in her career at the State Champs.

She would use that opportunity well. In the night’s final she pushed from fifth at the half way mark with a split of 27.92 to place third in a new personal best of 59.30. She her growing sprint endurance in the event she had the fastest back half of 31.38.

Simone in the heats of the 100 yard backstroke. Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

It would be the event for which she has become a mainstay in the Jamaica junior squad over the last couple of seasons, the 100 backstroke in which she would have her highest ever finish. In the heats of the event she went out the fastest she has ever done at States 28.66. She was rewarded with her best time at the high School champs. It also placed her in first Championship final.

Championship finalists in the 100 yard backstroke.Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

In the final she again went out hard in a time of 28.57. This time she was just off her heats time but got her best ever State showing placing fourth in 59.36. In 2018 at States she had placed 6th in the B final in 1:00.29 (split time 29.26). The year 2017 had her finishing 21st in1:00.56 (split time 28.96)

Simone off to a good start in the heats of the medley relay .Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

In the morning Vale paced the preliminaries of the 200 medley relay .She got the team to the final with an opening backstroke contribution of 27.87 , the second fastest split of the morning. The Pine Crest Panthers with the number one seed going into the final took the Gold  in the final.

CARIFTA and National record holders in the 13-14 400 medley from left to right Vale,Lyn, Alvaranga and MacDonald Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

Simone has led off the Jamaican CARIFTA 400 medley relay team to Gold for the last two  years in the 15-17 age group  2018 4:33.46 (Championship and National Age Group record)  and   2019 4:36.83.

Victorious Pine Crest Boys and Girls teams .Photo courtesy of Art Kozel

The Panther Girls dominated the competition winning with a total of 448 points, Second went to Estero High School with 200 and third to Gulliver 182.5.


Jamaica’s Michael Gunning opened the 2019-2020 season in the best possible fashion by setting a new national record.  The 25 year old who competes for Stockport Metro competing in the 2019 Manchester International Swim Meet  set a new national standard in the 200 metre butterfly.

The meet which ran from October 18 to 19 which was contested in short course metres saw Gunning qualifying seventh for the final in a time of 2:05.27.In the final he blew past his opening salvo in the morning heats to win the Bronze in a time of 1:59.98. In doing so he became the first Jamaican under the 2 minutes. He bettered his old national standard of 2:00.07 set in 2017.

Michael Gunning

By going out aggressively Gunning ensured himself a new national standard .

Comparison of record splits

First 5026.6326.98
Second 5030.3631.02
Third 5031.0432.31
Fourth 5031.9529.76
Total time1:59.982:00.07

Gold went Richard Nagy of City of Sheffield in 1:58.67 and the Silver to Tom Beely of Plymouth Leander in 1:58.84.

Gunning spoke to draftingthecaribbean about the national record swim after the race

“I am really happy to set that Jamaican record in the 200 metre butterfly tonight. Now that it is the Olympic cycle everyone wants to swim fast.Everyone is going for the fast times.To get a Bronze medal at the Manchester International I am really pleased with that as I did not expect it. My coach Sean Kelly has been pushing me in training. This meet was just to swim through it and see what times I could post when I am in hard training. I am excited for things to come”

Gunning who placed 16th in the 200 metre freestyle in a time of 1:53.10 .He is also the national record holder with a time of 1:48.28.

He also spoke about his training programme

Michael Gunning

“I am currently training out here in the United Kingdom,Training is going very well. I am in the water 10 times a week and each session is about two and a half hours.I am covering a lot of metres  .I averaging 75 to 80,000 metres a week.I also have three gym sessions as well.Training is going well .I am really training very hard . The result came as a surprise because I am not rested or tapered. The result came after a week of 80,000 metres. Things are looking good for the Olympic cycle so I can qualify for Tokyo”.


Jada at the 2019 CARIFTA Championships in Barbados.Photo courtesy of Bertram Blackman

Competing in the  Laguna Bujama in Lima Peru on August 4 Trinidad and Tobago’s Jada Chatoor entered the history books not only for herself but the entire CARIFTA region . She took on the task of competing in the grueling 10 kilometre open water event. The course saw the competitors RACING the circuit eight times to finish the difficult event. Jada completed the marathon in swimming in a time of 2:14.50.6. Chatoor placed 14th overall.

Jada Chatoor before her historic 10K swim Photo courtesy of Camille Chatoor

Open water debuted in 2007.The rigorous nature of the event does not see all competitors being able to finish it.In this year’s edition 20 started but only 17 were able to finish.That speaks even more to the determination and grit of the young swimmer from twin island Republic.

Christian Marsden .Photo courtesy of

Jada now becomes the first woman to swim and complete the tough event from the region and the second swimmer to compete in the swimming marathon following the 2015 participation of countryman Christian Marsden who finished 13th in Canada. Earlier this year Jada won the 15-17Bronze in a very close 5K open water event in Barbados at the CARIFTA Championships.

Draftingthecaribbean contacted the regional age group standout and got her reaction to her historic swim

Jada Chatoor .Photo courtesy of Bertram Blackman

“In preparation for this games, training was very intense as open water is still something relatively new to me so I needed to work on my endurance but luckily it wasn’t too much of a shock as I’m already a distance swimmer. I also had to work on my stroke a lot leading up to the race because my pool stroke is very fast paced and I needed a smoother and more lengthened stroke for the 10K. I’m super pleased with the race, I didn’t  expect to do as well as I did. I was very nervous and intimidated at first because of all the big names in open water there and the temperature of the water really scared me but all in all it was a really good experience and I am happy I did it. To be the first woman from the CARIFTA to do so well in the 10K open water does make me feel very accomplished and excited for the future and hopefully there are more Caribbean participants in the open water at the games in the years to come”.

Samantha Rahael Photo courtesy of

Jada will next be in action in the 800 metre freestyle on Thursday August 8 where she will be looking to make more history for Trinidad and Tobago. She has an entry time of 9:19.00 which is not far off the 9:14.78 set by Samantha Rahael which is the 15-17 age group national record and doubles as the senior national record


Aruban Olympian Allyson Ponson announced her readiness for top performances at this summer’s World Championships in Korea and ultimately the Tokyo Olympics with national record performances in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle.

Allyson Ponson celebrating her 100 metre freestyle Gold medal Photo courtesy of Azura Florida Aquatics

The occasion was the Puerto Rico International Swimming Open held from April 25 to 28 at the San Juan Natatorium . In her first sprint event the 100 metre freestyle Allyson, representing Azura Florida Aquatics rattled her national mark of 56.84 in the morning heats.She swam 56.86 to claim the top seed heading into the Championship final. In that final in the afternoon she relegated the 56.84 to the history books when she swam the only sub 57 time of 56.78. Allyson had set the old national record during the heats of the 18 and over category at the now defunct Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships. Silver went to Daniela Gutierrez Zapata of Colombia in 57.66.The Bronze was won by Julimar Avila of Honduras in 58.26.

Ponson was just off the 2019 Lima A standard of 56.56.In her sights for the rest of the season will be the World Championships B time of 56.40 and Olympic B standard of 56.01.

Allyson Ponson at the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony Photo courtesy of wikipedia

The record breaking was not limited to the 100 metre freestyle as she turned her attention to the fastest event in swimming , the 50 metre freestyle. In that event she blasted through a number of standards as well as her national record in her morning swim. She exerted her dominance with a new Aruban mark of 25.61. That blew away her old national standard of 25.84 set in 2016. Also bettered was the Lima Peru PAN AM A standard of 25.89 and the World Championships B standard of 25.92.

Allyson with her teammate Mariel Mencia displaying Gold and Silver medals from the 50 metre freestyle Photo courtesy of Azura Florida Aquatics

In the night’s final her speed proved too much for her rivals as she stopped the clock in a time of 25.70.Second went to club mate Mariel Mencia in 26.56 and the Bronze to Olympian and 2007 PAN AM Games Silver medallist in the event Puerto Rico’s Vanessa García Vega in 26.50.

Allyson who is now training in Florida with Azura Florida Aquatics spoke to us earlier this month about that move

” So I left February 2 to train with Azura my goals where to do the Pan American A cut in the 50 (25.89) and swim a personal best in the 100 free. In regards with the training I was expecting to do a lot of sprint focused training which I did and I think that really helped me a lot”.

She also gave draftingthecaribbean some insight about her races in San Juan

”  Well during the heats of the 50 I really just tried to stay calm and not focus on the fact that I needed to still qualify with a Pan Am A cut. I felt confident because during warm up I felt really good and I really believed that the training I did during Azura would help me qualify with the A time. So during the race I was just focused on doing what I practiced and not thinking of the time. How ever I wasn’t expecting to go 25.61 yet. For the 100 finals I was already so happy to have done 56 in the morning that my mind set was basically just put on lets try to go a little faster than the morning .I can definitely improve my second 50 in the 100 going back.I also need to make sure I don’t breathe as much in the last few metres”.

Allyson along with twin sister Gabrielle provided the backbone of Aruba’s sprint force during their junior years at the CARIFTA swimming championships

Allyson’s CARIFTA record

Age Group50 freePlacing100 freePlacingAgeYear

Those swims are putting her in elite company among the top sprinters of all time from the region. In the 50 metre freestyle she is the second fastest active swimmer and fifth overall.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace The Bahamas24.31
Malia Metella   French Guiana/France24.58
Alia Atkinson Jamaica25.47
Leah Martindale Barbados25.49
Malia Metella celebrating Olympic Silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics Photo courtesy of zimbio

In that group Vanderpool-Wallace,Martindale and Metella have all made the Olympic final in the event. Metella won the Silver in 2004 in Athens,Martindale was the first female swimmer from the CARIFTA region to make the sprint final in 1996 at the Atlanta Games. Arianna showed her dominance during her era to make the final in 2012 in London.

For the 100 metre freestyle the all time list is as follows

Coralie Balmy Photo courtesy of Coralie Balmy
Malia Metella   French Guiana/France53.49
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace The Bahamas53.73
Joanna Evans  The Bahamas55.29
Alia Atkinson   Jamaica55.35
Coralie Balmy   Martinique/France55.49
Leah Martindale  Barbados56.03
Allyson Ponson Photo courtesy of

With Allyson already faster than her 2016 Olympic debut swim in Rio of 26.00 she is one of the most exciting prospects to watch her heading to the 2020 Tokyo Games.


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.

50 back medallists and carter 96.1
Team TTO 50 metre backstroke medallists Carter and McLeodwith the parents of Dylan Carter Photo courtesy of 96.1 WEFM


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


Date July 20 July 24
First 50 metres 23.29 23.02
Second 50 metres 25.66 25.77
Final Time 48.95 48.79

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



400 free relay 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 off the blocks
Kael Yorke at CARIFTA 2018 Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

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.

100 butterfly 2018 season

Event Time Split Placing
UANA 56.53 26.68 Bronze
CARIFTA 55.57 26.23 Gold
CCCAN 55.28 26.68 Gold
CAC Games 54.27 25.02 7th