Another promising athlete from the CARIFTA region Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands competed in the 2017 World Championships in Budapest Hungary and made her mark by giving her home nation the best placing it has ever had in the women’s 100 metre backstroke.


The  reigning 15-17 CARIFTA Champion in the 100 metre backstroke Hew stopped the clock in in 1:08.38 for 50th position overall. That is the best a woman from the Cayman Islands has ever placed in the event surpassing the the 54th ranking by Lara Butler at the 2015 Kazan Championships. It was also the 4th fastest time from a CCCAN representative. In the 200 metre freestyle, an event which she is also the CARIFTA champion she placed 41st overall with a time of 2:08.91. She was again 4th among CCCAN swimmers at the global championships. Hew’s swim in the 200 metre freestyle is historic as it the first time a woman from the Cayman Islands has competed in the race at the long course World Championships.

Hew and Weathers
Lauren Hew and coach Bailey Weathers

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her on Wednesday July 26 she gave her thoughts on her races and what experience she has gained from competing at the World Championships

“The 100 back was off but the 200 free was a better race. Although I added time in it as well, I was happy that I took the race out with a perfect easy speed and I just need to make sure I can make the second half where it needs to be. The atmosphere is definitely something special and one that is not often experienced. It is intimidating to race at this meet but of course it is an amazing experience and something to learn from. For this reason the focus isn’t greatly on my times but more on learning from the races. It’s very exciting and such an honour to be able to warm up and down in the same lanes as some of the world’s top swimmers. It’s also amazing to be able to train in the brand new facilities here surrounded by these amazing athletes for a few days before I head off to another competition”.



Alison Jackson Gold medal CARIFTA 2017
Alison Jackson with one her Gold medals won at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships held in The Bahamas Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

As the Championship meets for the summer of 2017 beckon draftingthecaribbean continues to look back at some of the top performers from the 2016-2017 so far. The performer being featured is Alison Jackson of the Cayman Islands for her sprint freestyle achievements at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships held from April 15-19 in The Bahamas.

With the availability of the top class facility in Nassau – the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex – and race commentary being provided by none other than the region’s best sprint freestyler (local heroine Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace) the motivation for Alison to perform well for her country would have been great.

On April 17 Alison lowered her personal best ,13-14 age group record, senior national record as well the CARIFTA record of 59.34 set by Bermudan Emma Harvey of 59.34 when she swam 58.22 (splits 27.71 and 30.51) in the preliminaries. In addition to those accolades it was also the fastest time ever done by a 13-14 girl in the Bahamas. Jackson would go on to win the Gold medal in the final in a time of 58.31. A day later she would complete the sprint double when she won the 50 metre in another personal best, 13-14 age group and senior national record of 26.97.That result made her the first female swimmer from the Cayman Islands ever to go under the 27 seconds mark. This marks the second sprint double for Alison in her CARIFTA career as she achieved the feat for the first time at the 2015 Barbados Championship in the 11-12 age group.

Alison powering her way to Gold in the 100 metre freestyle
Alison on her way to Gold in the 100 metre freestyle. Emily MacDonald the Silver medallist is seen below in her Gold Jamaica cap Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Since the 2005 CARIFTA Championships, no female swimmer from the Cayman Islands had medalled in the 50 and 100 freestyle events in the 13-14 age group. Jackson had given a sign of the speed to come as she had won the 200 metre freestyle crown with a winning time of 2:11.57. A year earlier in Martinique Jackson had the following places 50 metre freestyle 4th 27.48,100 metre freestyle 8th 1:01.60 and 200 metre freestyle 7th 2:17.26. Alison now has the national standards for the Cayman Islands for the sprint freestyle events for the 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and senior categories.

She would win a Silver in the 800 metre freestyle relay that clocked 9:09.35.In the 400 metre freestyle relay the Cayman Island girls would win the Bronze in 4:12.00.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Jackson on June 7 she described winning three Gold medals.

“Winning the medals was a good reflection of where I’m at right now as a swimmer and helped to show where I can improve. Winning the 200 was a welcome shock because I only just started to really focus on middle distances this past season. Winning the 100 and 50 gave me an insight in to how I have improved my sprinting over the course of the season and where I still have room to improve”.

As the fastest female ever swimmer from The Cayman Islands she reflected on what her goals for the 50 metre freestyle before CARFITA

“I’ve had the goal to go under 27 seconds in the 50 freestyle for a while now. Now that I’ve done it I believe I still have ways to go and lots to improve on in this event. With our improving strength and sprint programmes I’m sure I will reach my full potential in this race”.

Alison also spoke about her summer plans

“While I’m not participating in CCCAN or World Juniors I am focusing on training this summer and then I am going to ISCA which is a meet in St. Petersburg. Although this meet isn’t as big as World Juniors it still gives me the opportunity to race people who are faster than me and who can push me in my races.”

Coach David Pursley and Alison
Coach David Pursley and Alison Photo courtesy of Stingray Swim Club

Draftingthecaribbean also was able to get an insight into Jackson’s performances and her development from head coach at the Stingray Swim Club David Pursley. In analyzing her Gold medal performances Coach Pursley offered these thoughts:

“Ali’s three wins were very reassuring to the direction we are heading. She has always had great potential in the sprints with her speed and strength but from a development stand point we have really been working hard to improve her stamina for the back end of her 100. The second night she was able to win the 200 free which helped to validate the work we have been doing the past couple seasons. Wehave seen the results in practice sets and day to day training but hadn’t yet put it together in the 200 in a big competition. I really feel even though it wasn’t her most impressive victory, that the 200 was her biggest break through and most important victory.

Her 100 was fun to watch and the most impressive 100 of her career. Though the last 15 meters still were not there. The 200 showed the progress we have made and the 100 showed us that there is still work to be done. She managed to maintain her rates longer than any 100 in the past but still dropped significantly in the last 15 meters. Her speed out was very impressive and she took an early commanding lead. It was nerve racking for me as it looked more aggressive than her prelims swim but she managed to show how tough and determined she is coming home.”

He also spoke about her going under 27 seconds and plans for her in the event

“The 50 free was good to get under 27 seconds which was a general goal. However there is still a long ways to go in this event. I truly believe that Ali will be very special in this event as her career unfolds. Her development right now is setting her up to see impressive results in the 50 a couple years down the road. She is nowhere near the potential I believe she has in this event. The 50 is all about speed and strength.

The strength program she is on will have her lifting with the best of them in three years’ time. It is a three year program that she is on that started 7 months prior. Ali has tremendous strength already but is nowhere near where she will be in 2019. She has proven to be a high responder to strength training and seems to really enjoy the process. I look forward to seeing what she will be doing. After hitting the peak of the program in 2019 she will hopefully be ready to really specify the strength aspect at an elite level by 2020.

To develop her speed we need to develop her coordination, balance, and technique. This is the first year we have introduced rate specific coordination exercises and really pressured for greater core stability and it seems to be paying off. Naturally Ali has great kinaesthetic awareness and is able to adjust and perform complicated movements fairly easily and quickly. From a technical stand point her focus right now is on improving her kick and her start”.

Coach David explaining a training set with Alison
Coach David explaining a training set to Alison. Photo courtesy of Stingray Swim Club

Coach Pursley also outlined the programme for Jackson

“As stated earlier Ali still has a focus on development and training. We have had talks on a four year plan for her working backwards from Tokyo. To stay on schedule and continue to develop we try to limit travel and rested competitions to 3 per year the first two years of the quad. April, early August, and December are the three best opportunities for competitions to allow full training cycles between each and to be sure she is getting the training and development she needs. If we add big travel competitions in between we lose 2-3 weeks depending on the rest each time when we could be improving capacities in strength, aerobic, or neural. Because Ali isn’t at the top yet we need to continue to focus on where she wants to be rather than showcasing where she is. This summer she will be traveling to St. Petersburg Florida August 2nd-5th for the ISCA Senior Summer Championships. This is a P/F LCM meet that is at the perfect competition level where Ali will have plenty of swimmers seeded in front of her to go after but will also have opportunities to compete for medals if she is at her best. With one travel meet to focus on we won’t lose any training time and can prepare fully for her swims.

In 2019 we will still travel 3 times but will reduce the number of full tapers in the year, to two in order to get a full strength progression in time for a hopeful Pan Am performance. From there we will have answers to the best plan forward. In summary we have a long term developmental focus right now”.



DC swimmingworldmagazine
Dylan Carter Photo courtesy of

On Friday March 24, 2017 Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter earned his first ever medal at the NCAA Division I Championships when he won Silver in the 200 yard freestyle. In Indianapolis the University of Southern California Junior won his first medal in second individual Championships final.

In the final he had race splits of race 44.00 and 47.16 to tie for the Silver in a time of 1:31.16 with Indiana’s Blake Pieroni. The Gold went to Townley Haas of Texas in 1:30.65.  Carter’s previous best showing at the Championships was 7th on the B final in 2014.

Dylan joins the Fraser brothers of the Cayman Islands and the University of Florida as the only CARIFTA region swimmers to have won medals in this event at the Championships. Shaune won Gold in 2009 then won Silver in 2010. Brett won Gold in 2011.

Carter also continues a strong tradition at USC of producing Championship finalists. The Trojans have medalled in this event 5 of the last 6 years.


Carter NCAA 2017
Dylan Carter Photo courtesy of usctrojans and Walt Middleton

On Day 2 of the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships being held in Indiana the CARIFTA region sprint force was on show with top swimmers from Aruba, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in action. It would be Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago who would become the fastest ever swimmer CARIFTA Region to compete at the collegiate level in the 50 yard freestyle.


Heading to Indiana Carter who represents the University of Southern California Trojans was tied with legendary Olympian George Bovell III as the fastest sprinters from the twin island republic at the collegiate level with identical times of 19.32. Dylan recorded that time at the Texas Invite in Dec 2016.

On Thursday March 23 during the heats of the 200 yard freestyle relay Dylan led off the Trojans with a split of 19.08 (split time 9.31). The team was unfortunately disqualified.

In the heats of the individual 50 yard freestyle he would subsequently swim faster. Carter would clock a CARIFTA region best of 19.04 (split time 9.18).This would allow the 6’3 junior to make his first ever NCAA Championship final .It also bettered his best showing and time at the meet.His previous best was 19th in 2014 in a time of 19.41 (split time 9.39). He would maintain that position in the night posting a time of 19.08 (split 9.21). The previous best time from the region was 19.30 by Shaune Fraser of the Cayman Islands who recorded 19.30 while representing the University of Florida in 2009. Dylan’s swim also marked the first Championship finalist in the event for the Trojans since 2013 when Vlad Morozov won the event. Carter is now the 2nd fastest swimmer of all time at USC.

In the 400 yard medley relay Championship final the Trojan team of Ralf Tribuntsov backstroke 44.76, Carsten Vissering breaststroke 51.23, Carter butterfly 44.81 and Santo Condorelli freestyle placed 4th in a new school record of 3:02.20. That crushed the old mark of 3:04.51 set at the PAC -12 championships earlier this month. Carter’s butterfly split then was 45.23. It is the best placing for the Trojans at Championships since 2013 when they placed 4th in 3:04.98.



Rafael Van Leeuwaarde Photo courtesy of

The 2017 Southern Zone SPEEDO Sectionals in Plantation Florida saw the standard of regional swimming being lifted once again as national records were lowered. Those countries that saw improvement through the efforts of their swimmers included Rafael Van Leeuwaarde for Suriname, Lauren Hew for the Cayman Islands, Cameron Brown for Jamaica and Chadé Nercisio for Curaçao. The meet which was contested in long course metres at the Plantation Aquatic Complex was held from March 9 to 12.

Rafael, who is a junior at Florida State set national records in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke. In the 50 metre breaststroke he lowered his own record from 29.07 to 28.84 in the heats of the event. He would go on to win Gold in the Final in a time of 29.16. The 100 metre breaststroke saw him lowering his 2016 record 1:04.84 to 1:04.36.It was a CARIFTA region exacta as Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas finished with the Silver medals in both races. Rafael who was a guest recently on Jamaica’s SportsNation Live on Nationwide 90 radio with host Leighton Levy spoke about his 50 metre record

Seeing myself go under 29 seconds for the first time was quite an accomplishment because I just did not see it happening .Everything just clicked and I got the best out of that race

Rafael Van Leeuwaarde interview

Lauren Hew Photo courtesy of

CARIFTA bound Lauren Hew would also be a part of the record breaking spree.  In the 100 metre freestyle Lauren became the first Cayman Islands woman to swim under 59 seconds. She swam 58.78 in the heats of the event. That broke the 2016 record of Lara Butler set at the British University Long Course Championships. That performance qualified Lauren for the Championship final where she placed 8th in 59.13. She would lower her own 2016 national mark of 2:07.81 in the 200 metre freestyle in the morning preliminaries. Lauren sped to a time of 2:07.79. The Championship final saw her placing 8th in a time of 2:08.45. Lauren who had placed 8th at the 2016 Martinique CARIFTA championships in the 15-17 girls’ 100 metre freestyle in 1:00.89 spoke to draftingthecaribbean about her performances after the meet

I was happy to lower my 200 free record even if it was by hundredths of a seconds Any improvement is a good sign and I was especially happy to drop time in 200 back because it is one of my main events. Sectionals was a good meet to have swam as a set up for CARIFTA so that I know what I need to work on for April.”

The 2016 CARIFTA Gold medals in the 15-17 girls category in the 100 and 200 metre freestyle events were won in times of 58.57 and 2:06.96.

Cameron Brown focusing before his race Photo courtesy of Ofelia Hamilton

Jamaican Cameron Brown is another swimmer set to compete at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships to be held in Nassau Bahamas from April 14-19.Brown who placed 8th in the 13-14 boys’ 100 metre breaststroke at CARIFTA in Martinique in 1:12.66 lowered his breaststroke mark again. After lowering the record to 1:09.93 in January he lowered the 13-14 age group mark again to 1:09.66. He has now set the national mark 3 times. He was the youngest qualifier for the B final at age 14 years old. In that race he touched in 7th place in a time of 1:10.46.In 2016 to medal in the 13-14 boys race it took 1:11.17 or faster.

Chadé Nercisio  Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Ace Sprinter from Curaçao Chadé Nercisioaçao who is now competing in the 15-17 age group set national records in 50 metre butterfly and 100 metre freestyle. In Martinique she was 5th in the 50 metre butterfly in 29.66 and a Bronze medallist in the 100 freestyle in 1:00.89 13-14 age. At the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in Bahamas later in the summer she was significantly faster posting times of 28.65 for Silver in the 50 metre butterfly and 58.45 for Gold in a Championship record. Both swims were national records. In Florida she would lower the butterfly record twice .In the morning she posted a time of 28.45. She got faster in the evening to win Gold in the Championship final in 28.22. In the B final of the 100 metre freestyle she won the event in a time of 58.21. The winning time in the 15 17 age group last year was 29.00.







Lauren Hew Photo courtesy of

Lauren Hew’s record breaking streak continued on Day 5 of the 13th World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada. On Saturday Dec 10 Hew became the first Cayman Islands woman to go below 27 seconds in the 50 metre freestyle.


Lauren set a new mark of 26.49 lowering her own record 27.14 done at the Island Games in July 2015. That swim placed her joint 52nd with Izzy Joachim of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It also betters her Cayman Islands top placing and time at the World Championships of 65th and 27.19 done at the 2014 Doha Championships. After the race Lauren said

“I enjoyed my final race because 50 free isn’t one of my main events but I always have fun with it and just see how fast I can go. It was great to finish with another record and I’m happy that I could be the first to break the 27 second barrier for other Caymanian girls to chase after”.

That swim marked the 5th senior national record Hew broke at the World Championships. The other standards were set in the 100 and 200 metre freestyle and the 50 and 100 metre backstroke.

Compatriot Alison Jackson came close to lowering her own 13-14 age group record of 27.01.Jackson hit the pads in a time of 27.13 to place 68th marginally off the mark she set in Feb of this year. Her thoughts afterwards were as follows

“Even though this meet isn’t what I wanted I had a great time watching professional swimmers compete, break world records and experience the competitive atmosphere”.

Countryman Alex McCallum raced in the heats of the 100 metre freestyle. He stopped the clock in a time of 52.20 (split time 24.91). Speaking afterwards Alex said

“I was extremely happy with how I ended my races and my first world championships as a whole. I was able to get best times in every event and it was a good experience seeing old friends and meeting new people”.

Team Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands contingent ended the Championships with 5 new senior national records , 1 age group record and more than 12 personal bests times recorded.


Lauren Hew Photo courtesy of

On day 4 of the 13th World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada Lauren Hew completed the sprint backstroke record double.


Hew had already established anew mark in the 100 metre backstroke by edging Lara Butler’s mark of 1:03.36 to 1:03.35. In the 50 metre event she would lift the standard of swimming from the Cayman Islands by lowering her own personal best and national record of 29.82. In the morning heats Lauren had the 7th fastest reaction time of 0.56 of the 81 competitors that assisted greatly in producing a time of 28.86 to place 42nd  .That performance bettered the old record by almost a second .In the process she bettered  her own Cayman Islands best placing and time at the World Championships of 29.82 and  43rd .Lauren was also the highest placed Caribbean swimmer at the competition. Her performance also moves the Cayman Islands to 4th fastest English speaking national record in the event as seen in the table below.


Rank Country Name Time
1 Jamaica Alia Atkinson 27.37
2 Bermuda Kiera Aitken 27.72
3 Bahamas Alana Dillette 28.36
4 Cayman Islands Lauren Hew 28.86
5 Trinidad and Tobago Kristin Julien 28.87

Speaking after her record performance Hew said

“My backstroke start and finish didn’t go how I planned however, I was still happy with my time in the race but I know with fine tuning I could have been faster. 50 back is always a fun race especially in such a nice pool that is deep enough and has the backstroke ledge”.

Alison Jackson in her debut World Short Course Swimming championships was 63rd in the event in a time of 31.25.  Her thoughts about her swim were as follows

“50 back is always exciting to swim, even though I was only slightly under my personal best I was happy with my time. It wasn’t what I hoping for but it’s still an improvement”.