Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas representing SwimMac Carolina got yet another medal for the CARIFTA region on Thursday December 7, Day 2 of the 2017 Speedo Winter Junior Championships East .Swimming the breaststroke leg of the 400 yard medley relay at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville Tennessee the ladies of SwimMac Carolina won Bronze. The team of Julia Menkhaus backstroke 54.21, Higgs 1:01.14, Sophie Lindner butterfly 53.89 Olywin Bartis freestyle 49.31 had total time of 3:38.55.

Higgs on way to sprint breaststroke double at CARIFTA 2017
Lilly en route to the 50 metre breaststroke Gold medal at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in The Bahamas Photo courtesy of Micheal C Lyn

When the results are combined with the competition being held in the West Higgs, who is the reigning 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champions had the 7th fastest overall breaststroke split of the 107 competing teams. The Gold medal in the East went to Nashville Aquatics in 3:36.88 and the Silver to Cardinal Aquatics in 3:37.39.

Chade in action
Chade Nercisio Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Chade Nercisio of Curacao who represents East Coast Aquatics earned a second swim in the 50 yard freestyle  qualifying for the C final .In that night’s final she topped the field with a time of 22.97 just of her personal best of 22.93.

Lauren Hewe Photo courtesy of

The Cayman Islands Lauren Hew representing Saint Andrews recorded the 3rd fastest time of her career in the 50 yard freestyle when she stopped the clock in 23.44 to finish 32nd . Higgs recorded the 2nd fastest time of her career when she stopped the clock in 24.15 to place 125th .

In the 200 yard individual medley Higgs recorded her 3rd fastest time ever when she hit the wall in 2:03.06 to place 33rd.

In the 400 yard medley relay Nersicio put in another strong performance to help her East Coast Aquatics team to 25th overall. She split 50.25 on the freestyle leg  to help the team to 3:49.15



The 2017 edition of the Florida High School 1A Championships saw Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands closing out her high school career with a Silver medal in the 200 yard medley relay. She would reaffirm her position as the fastest female swimmer to represent Saint Andrews.

The competition which was held on November 4 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida saw Lauren being drafted in for the final of the 200 yard medley relay. She was given the responsibility of handling the butterfly duties. After the backstroke and breaststroke legs of teammates of Gabby Beltrano 27.28 and Shayna Fetes 28.86 the Boca Raton based institution lay in third place.

Hew fly split
Lauren powering through the butterfly leg in the 200 yard medley relay


Normally known for her backstroke Hew proved she can sprint in butterfly as well clocking the 2nd fastest split of 25.12 to put the Scots in the Silver medal position. Teammate Hannah Trieschmann 23.38 would push the Bolles anchor leg Adair Sand all the way to the final to get the Silver medal in a total time of 1:44.64.

Hew with relay team
Saint Andrews Aquatics Silver medal winning relay team from left to right Shayna Fetes,Hew,Gabby Beltrano and Hannah Trieschmann

Bolles would just take the win in a time 1:44.48. That is the best performance by the Scots women since 2012 when they won the Gold in 1:42.77.

Hew with 200 medley relay Silver Shelly bas
Lauren Hew poses with medley relay medal Photo courtesy of Shelly Bastian

Hew’s performance for the butterfly was the best split for the school in the Championship final since Megan Moroney clocked 24.50 on that Gold medal winning team.

The 50 yard freestyle was put on Hew’s agenda for the school year. Hew would not disappoint her coaches belief in her freestyle sprint abilities.

Lauren Hew Saint andrews aquatics
Lauren Hew reacts to setting a new school record 50 yard freestyle at the 2017 Palm Beach County Championships Photo courtesy of Saint Andrews Aquatics

On October 7 she would lower a decades old school record in the event when she won the Silver in a time of 23.46.That swim bettered the 23.58 standard of Vicki Stemper set in 1987. In the heats of the event at the State championships she would be even faster as she touched in a time of 23.24 to make the medal final. In the night’s Championship she would record the 2nd fastest time of her career when she hit the wall in 23.42 to place 4th. She was just off the bronze medal winning time of 23.33 clocked by Abby Burke of Lakeland Prep. The Gold went to Kaitlyn Schorr of Montverde in 22.93. That 4th place was the best performance by Saint Andrews since 2012 when Brenna Ruth placed 4th in 23.81.Hew’s Saint Andrews legacy  will include being the fastest female swimmer ever and the fastest ever in the Championship final. This was possible after just one season of focusing on the event.


100 back takeoff Hew
Hew competing in the final of the 100 yard backstroke

In the 100 yard backstroke her build-up to the state final included podium performances at the Palm Beach County championships, District and Regional Championships.

Date Meet Time Place
October 6 Palm Beach County champs 56.16 Gold
October 20 District Champs 59.14 Gold
October 27 Regional champs 56.33 Silver

In the heats of the event she would record her fastest time of the season of 56.01 (split time 26.81).Hew finished 6th in the final with a time of 56.77 (split time 26.39).That swim marked her second straight Championship final. Before Hew’s arrival at Saint Andrews the last Championship finalist was in 2012.

50 metre backstroke
Hew with the 50 metre backstroke Gold on her way to doing the 50,100, 200 metre backstroke treble Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

At the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in The Bahamas Lauren swept the backstroke events in the 15-17 age group.

Her final race the 400 yard freestyle relay saw her swimming an opening leg of 51.48 to help the Scots to 4th spot in 3:29.92.That was the best ranking for the school since 2014.

100 free Gold Pilgrim,Hew and Lyn
The CARIFTA 15-17 100 metre freestyle podium from left to right Silver medallist Amira Pilgrim Trinidad,Hew Gold medallist, Annabella Lyn Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Lauren is the reigning CARIFTA 15-17 100 metre freestyle champion

The girls from Saint Andrews placed 3rd overall with 208 points.





The British University and Colleges Short Course Championships held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from November 10 to 12 saw Jamaica’s Michael Gunning lowering national marks in the freestyle and butterfly events.

Gunning would not be the only regional competitor at the meet. Strasser Sankar from Trinidad and Tobago as well as Gunning would lead the region with 4th places performances at the Championships.

The meet which was swum in a 25 metre pool saw the Graduate student who competes for Nottingham Trent University earning a second swim in the 50 metre freestyle when he clocked 22.31.

Strasser sankar Linkedin
Strasser Sankar Photo courtesy of linkedin

Sankar, who is reading for Masters in Sport Science, returned in the evening he posted a slightly faster time of 22.30 to place 4th overall in a tie with Jack Thorpe from Edinburgh. Sankar was marginally outside a podium spot as Sam Irvine of Loughborough won the Bronze in 22.28.Calum Bain of Stirling won the Silver in 22.04 and Gold went David Cumberlidge of Heriott –Watt in 21.51. The 26 year old would contest only the heats of the 50 metre breaststroke where he recorded a time of 28.91.

Jean Luc Zephir Photo courtesy of

St Lucia’s 2017 World Championship representative Jean-Luc Zephir earned a second swim as well in the 50 metre freestyle. In the morning Jean-Luc clocked 23.09 to earn a spot in the B final. That final saw the Plymouth Marjon University student bettering  his preliminary time with a 23.02 clocking that earned 4th .He would place 16th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.11 (split time 24.62).The 200 metre freestyle saw Zephir with a 24th ranking after recording a time of 1:53.62 (split time 53.62).

Iain McCallum
Iain McCallum

The Cayman Islands Iain McCallum would also earn a second swim competing in the 50 metre butterfly. The 20 year Edinburgh student would be timed at 25.30 in the morning heats. In the B final he would place 5th in a time of 25.15.He would place 30th in the 200 metre butterfly in a time of 2:11.86 (split time 1:02.96).

Matt Courtis Fast off the block
Matthew Courtis Photo courtesy of Fast off the block

Mathew Courtis of Barbados had a top finish of 14th in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:40.19 (split time 2:15.51). The Cambridge Graduate student would also compete in the 100 and 200 metre butterfly and 200 metre individual medley.

Event Time Place Split
100 scm butterfly 57.28 29th 27.15
200 scm butterfly 2:08.61 22nd 1:01.45
200 scm IM 2:12.76 23rd 1:03.33


Hannibal Gaskin
Hannibal Gaskin Photo courtesy of

Guyanese Olympian Hannibal Gaskin (Rio 2016) had a top performance of 30th in the 50 metre butterfly with a time of 25.83. The Exeter student also placed 45th in the 100 metre butterfly with a time of 58.43 (split time 27.38).


Heading into his final high school championship on Saturday November Aruban Daniel Jacobs had one medal at the prestigious meet. That would all change by the end of the day as the University school student would earn two more , Silver in the 500 yard freestyle and Bronze in the 200 yard freestyle.

Daniel Jacobs before race.PNG

In last year’s competition Daniel had finished just outside the medal podium in the 500 yard freestyle as he clocked 4:30.64 to finish 4th. Leading up to the Championships he swam well within himself to capture the District and Regional titles in times of 4:49.07 and 4:41.12 respectively. In the final the reigning CCCAN 15-17 400 metre freestyle Gold medallist  would record a new personal best of 4:28.38 to win the Silver medal. The Gold went to Curly Hayden of Lake Highland Prep in 4:21.92. The Georgia Tech commit’s previous personal record was 4:30.64.

Jacobs off the blocks.PNG


That is the fastest performance by a CARIFTA region swimmer in the 500 yard freestyle since 2005 when Cayman Islands Olympian Shaune Fraser( Beijing 2008, London 2012) won the event in 4:24.42.

Jacobs with Bronze medal
Jacobs with 500 yard freestyle Bronze Medal Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

The 200 yard freestyle saw him repeating his Bronze medal position from 2016 . Last year saw him placing third in a time of 1:39.67 (split time 48.27). This year at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida he would record a personal best time of 1:39.37 (split time 48.99). His swim represented the fastest done by CARIFTA region swimmer since Fraser took the title in 1:36.33 in 2005. Jacobs is the reigning CCCAN 15-17 200 metre freestyle champion winning the event in Trinidad and Tobago in 1:54.82.


In relay action the 200 yard freestyle relay saw Jacobs on the second leg  21.80 and countryman Patrick Groters 20.51 providing a strong 1-2 punch to give the University school a strong early advantage in the B final. The team would hold on to take 3rd overall in 1:29.42.

It would be that strong Aruban combination of Groters lead leg 45.97 and Jacobs 46.30 that would have the University School in medal contention at the half way mark. The team would finish 6th with a total time of 3:15.38.

Jacobs and Groters
University School top performers Arubans Daniel Jacobs and Patrick Groters Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

The University School finished 6th in the boys section with 108 points. This total was contributed to greatly by the strength of the Aruban contingent of Jacobs and Groters.

Daniel will be one of the standouts to lookout for at the CARIFTA Championships to be held in Kingston in 2018 and should challenge the 15-17 400 metre freestyle meet record of 3:59.79.


Three of the CARIFTA region’s top sprinters will be in action tomorrow in the 50 yard freestyle at the 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association 1A state championships to be held at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida. The swimmers are Chadé M. Nersicio from Curaçao representing Trinity Christian, Jamaica’s Emily MacDonald representing the Bolles School and Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands representing Saint Andrew’s.

Chadé Nercisio before her race Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Chadé will enter the preliminaries as the top seed in the event with a time of 23.47. Last season at the CCCAN Championships in Trinidad and Tobago she set a new national record to win the Silver medal in the 15-17 age group in 26.45. She would go on to record 26.91 at the World Championships in Budapest Hungary . This season in the 25 yard pool she has been in good form recording wins at the Palm Beach County championships,1A District 10 and 1A Region 4 Championships. At the County championships she lowered her 2016 of 23.42 to 23.10.

Date Meet Time
Oct 7 Palm Beach County Champs 23.10
Oct 20 1 A District 10 Champs 23.31
Oct 27 1A Region 4 Champs 23.47

She has been on the podium the last previous two years and will seek to be on the top of the podium for the first time tomorrow.

Year Event Time Placing
2016 50 yard freestyle 22.96 3rd
2015 50 yard freestyle 23.41 2nd

The third seed will be Jamaica’s Emily MacDonald. The Bolles recruit in her first season underlined her sprint credentials by winning at the 1A District 2 Champs and the 1A Region champs.

Date Meet Time
Oct 17 1 A District 2 Champs 24.64
Oct 26 1A Region 1 Champs 23.88
Emily MacDonald 100 freestyle Gold
Emily MacDonald 13-14 50 metre freestyle Gold Medallist Photo courtesy of Tastey Blackman

Emily who was ill at CARIFTA in The Bahamas placed 4th in a time 27.60. Regular service was resumed at CCCAN in Trinidad and Tobago when she won the 13-14 50 metre freestyle title 27.20. in 2016 on her way to the freestyle sprint double. In her last year of the 11-12 age group in 2016 she had completed the Golden double capturing the freestyle double at CARIFTA and CISC.

Laure Hew 2017 Saint andrews.PNG

Hew of the Cayman Islands who in 2016 made the Championship final in the 100 yard freestyle has made the move to the 50 yard race this season. She is ranked 8th on the heat sheet with a time of 24.09.Lauren has put up good performances in the event leading up to Saturday’s grand finale with top 3 performances at Palm Beach County, Districts and Regional champs.

Date Meet Time
Oct 7 Palm Beach County Champs 23.46 2nd
Oct 20 1 A  District 10 Champs 24.25 2nd
Oct 27 1A Region 4 Champs 24.09 3rd

These swimmers along with other in the upcoming 2A, 3A and 4A championships will be trying to get their names alongside other CARIFTA region swimmers who have won 50 yard freestyle titles and laid claim to being the fastest high school swimmer in Florida.

Past 50 yard freestyle winners
Past Regional Florida High school 50 yard champions from left to right Alexandria Donahue,Natasha Moodie and Chinyere Pigot Photos courtesy of swimmingworld

CARIFTA 50 yard freestyle  Florida High School State Championships winners

Name Country School Division Year Time
Alexandria Donahue Trinidad and Tobago Tampa 4A 2013 23.60
Chinyere Pigot Suriname Doral 1A 2010 23.52
Natasha Moodie Jamaica Miramar 3A 2005 23.72


Izaak Bastian swimswam
Izaak Bastian Photo courtesy of swimswam

Age group star Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas recently verbally committed to swim for Florida State University starting September 2018. He will join a list of top CARIFTA standouts who have attended or attending that school to include Daniella Van Den Berg and Jemal Le Grand of Aruba , Rafael Van Leeuwaarde of Suriname ,Cadell Lyons of Trinidad and Tobago. He will be joined at the school next year by current team mate at Saint Andrews Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Izaak on October 12 he gave his thoughts about his decision

“When I went on my recruiting trip to Florida State I felt really at home and it felt like a real family vibe and it did not feel like a bunch of cliques just  coming together to say they were a team . It actually felt like a team that wanted to be together and cared about each other and wanted each other to swim fast. It has the right balance of being pushed by the coaches and also being supported where they care about you as a person. I really like the way the team interacted in and out of the pool. They have a lot of non-swimming activities together. The coaches Ozzie (Ozzie Quevedo assistant coach) and Neal (Neal Studd Head Coach) both have experience on the Caribbean circuit and those type of meets and that was something that also pushed me towards FSU (Florida State University) and they know what I will be going through re competitions in the next couple of years. It was good to get persons with that type of experience to help to guide me and coach me. I can really trust that they know what they are doing and they know how to train me for a number of meets I will have throughout a season”.

Izaak Bastian CARIFTA page
Izaak Bastian 13-14 boys triple breaststroke Gold medallist all in record time Photo courtesy of carifta2016mque

Bastian made his debut for his country at the 2013 CARIFTA Championships in Kingston Jamaica. Izaak ,who is well known in regional circles for his breaststroke  prowess is the fastest active breaststroker for the Bahamas and has an enviable record at the Championships .He has a four year unbeaten streak in the 200 metre breaststroke having won Gold each year since his last year in the 11-12 age group. He also has a three year win streak in the 100 metre breaststroke. With two more years left in the 15-17 age group he has already garnered 24 medals 14 of which are Gold.

Event Age Group Time Placing
200 metre breaststroke 15-17 2:21.14 Gold
200 metre breaststroke 13-14 2:24.99 Gold
200 metre breaststroke 13-14 2:28.15 Gold
200 metre breaststroke 11-12 2:39.63 Gold
Event Age Group Time Placing
100 metre breaststroke 15-17 1:04.68 Gold
100 metre breaststroke 13-14 1:07.76 CR Gold
100 metre breaststroke 13-14 1:08.07 Gold

He has 15 national records ranging from the 9-10 to the 15 and over age groups. In the record books for the fastest performances on Bahamian soil Izaak’s name is seen 10 times from the 9-10 to the 15 and over categories. At the annual RBC national championships his name is also recorded 17 times from the 8 and under age group to the 15 and over age group.

Bastian family happy with win
Bastian family celebrating Izaak’s Silver medal winning performance from left to right mother Shelly, Izaak, father Darren and older brother Drew Photo courtesy of Shelly Bastian

He had a breakout performance this past summer when he became the first Bahamian man at the senior or junior level to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when he won Silver and Bronze in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke respectively at the Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas.He recorded times of 28.77 and 1:03.71 respectively.

Later in the summer at the World Junior Swimming championships in Indiana he recorded a personal best in the 200 metre breaststroke of 2:21.09. In the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke he registered the best time and placings by a Bahamian man with a 29.14 for 17th and 1:04.67 for 34th respectively. The previous best was by senior record holder Dustin Tynes at the 2013 Dubai World Junior Swimming championships where Tynes recorded times and placings of 29.60 28th and 1:05.37 for 37th .

Izaak Bastian starts race Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Currently swimming for the Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton he will be competing in the prestigious Florida High School Athletic Association 1A High School Championships at Sailfish Splash Park in Stuart Florida this Saturday November 4.

Bastian Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

He is the top seed in the 100 yard breaststroke and will be seeking to end his high school career on a high point by taking the title after finishing third the previous two years.

Year Event Time Placing Split
2016 100 yard breaststroke 55.68 3rd 26.46
2015 100 yard breaststroke 57.19 3rd 27.06

Bastian has had a number of wins in the event taking the county championship title and the district and regional titles.

Date Meet Time
Oct 7 Palm Beach County Champs 56.27
Oct 20 1 A District Champs 57.73
Oct 27 1A Region 4 Champs 56.43

He will aim to join other CARIFTA region swimmers who have won the state titles in this event

Name Country School Division Year Time
Jordy Groters Aruba University School 1A 2013 54.76
Wayne Denswil Suriname St Brendan 2A 2013 56.97
Diguan Pigot Suriname Doral 1A 2011 56.44
Bradley Ally Barbados St Thomas Aquinas 3A 2004 54.79
Ansel Tam Suriname Bolles 4A 1997 57.12



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”.