Jamaica’s most well traveled junior swimmer for the calendar year 2018 Emily MacDonald of the Bolles School was in yet another high level meet as she competed in the prestigious Florida high school 1A State championships. Emily’s itinerary for 2018 included the UANA championships in Coral Springs Florida, CARIFTA in Jamaica, CCCAN Championships in Aruba, the CAC Games in Colombia and the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina The State Championships which were held on Saturday November 16 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart Florida saw Emily winning her first State Championships title in the 200 yard medley relay as well as Silver in the 200 yard freestyle relay. Along with those medal performances she recorded personal best times in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events on her way to making the Championship finals in those races.
The evening’s final began on the best possible note for Emily as the Bolles School Sharks team of Faith Khoo backstroke 26.11, Carly Schwab breaststroke 28.74, Sasha Ramey butterfly 25.22 and MacDonald 23.43 recorded a total team time of 1:43.50 to capture the Gold. Silver went to the Saint Andrews School in 1:44.97 and the Bronze to Pine Crest in 1:45.29.This is the first medley relay title at the 1A State Championships since St Lucia’s Olympian Danielle Beaubrun who swam the breaststroke leg on the 2007 Bolles team.
Next up was the 50 yard freestyle final. Emily had qualified for the Championship by lowering her personal best in the race from 23.76 to 23.70. She would be even faster in the final as she posted another personal best of 23.68 to place 5th. This is an improvement from 2017 where she had placed eighth.
The race won by Chade Nercisio of the Trinity Christian School in 22.66. Chade who is from Curacao is the reigning CARIFTA 15-17 50 metre champion while Emily is the reigning champion in the 13-14 age group.
In the heats of the 100 yard freestyle Emily recorded her first sub 52 seconds time performance when she registered 51.67 (split time 25.01) to make the A final. That would be the second time she has made the Championship final in the event after making her debut in 2017. In the final she would place eighth in 52.71.
The 200 yard yard freestyle relay saw MacDonald leading off the Bolles team in a time of 23.86 in the final faster than the 23.91 she did in 2017. Her fellow Sharks Ramsey, Adair Sand and Megan McGrath contributed splits of 23.71,23.35 and 23.47 to help the team to a Silver medal winning time of 1:34.39. That performance betters the Bronze medal performance of 2017 .It is also the fastest time by the Bolles Sharks in the final since 2014.
MacDonald who started the Championships with 1 career medal at States now has 3. When draftingthecaribbean contacted Emily on November 18 she had the following thoughts about her Championship performances
” I was very pleased with my performances at this year’ State Championships. I bettered my 50 free and 100 free times. My 50 free time is now 23.68 and 100 free is 51.67.I am very pleased because it means because I am a lot fitter than last year because in 2017 I was doing 52 in the 100 free and 23 high in the 50 free.My time shows that I can do a lot better in long course season when it comes and do a lot better overall for the season”
The Bolles School won the girls division with 381 points.Second went to Pine Crest with 303 points and third to Saint Andrew’s with 244 points.
Curaçao’s Serginni Marten will be going to the Central American and Caribbean Games which start on July 20 in Barranquilla, Colombia a confident swimmer after a national record breaking swim in the 200 metre breaststroke at the CCCAN Championships in Aruba.
Before the competition got underway at the Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik on June 29 his personal best and national record stood at 2:25.63 set the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in The Bahamas .
In the morning heats a national record seemed possible as he qualified for the Championship final with a time of 2:26.50 , less than a second off the national standard. In the final it self that mark was destroyed as he placed fifth in a time of 2:23.69.
COMPARISON OF RECORD TIMES
It is clear from the splits that he has developed more back end speed. When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Marten on July 7 he gave his thoughts about the swim and his expectations heading to Barranquilla
“It felt great in the moment, I felt long and strong and in the prelims I went a smooth 2:26 so I knew that in the final I was capable of going a PB but I did not except a 2:23, I never been under 2:25 so it was a great feeling and it was a very close race from 1-5th place. My goals now for CAC is to rest up and work on the effectiveness of my stroke in the last 20 metres of the 100 and the last 5 metres of the 50 metre breaststroke. I have a good front half but now it’s all about maintaining that and not to doubt or have hesitation in my stroke in the second half of the race whether it’s the 50 or the 100”.
Team Curaçao will also be represented by Seggio Bernardina,Mauricio Payne, Rainer Rafaela and Chadé Nercisio.
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”.
No stranger to setting national relay records since making her first national team in 2016 Shaun Johnson had not set any individual national age group records. All that changed in a Bronze medal winning performance in the 50 metre butterfly on Sunday April 1 at the National Aquatic Centre in Kingston Jamaica at the 2018 CARIFTA Championships.
The Georgetown University bound student entered the competition with a personal best time of 29.24. She would register her first sub 29 seconds swim and do that in great fashion as she would also lower the 15-17 national record. The morning heats saw her swimming to a time of 28.72. In making the Championship final she lowered the 15-17 age group record of 28.87 set by Alia Atkinson at the CCCAN Championships in August 2005.
She would have more to offer in the final as she went faster clocking 28.52 to earn the Bronze medal.Silver went Elinah Philip of the British Virgin Islands in 28.29 and the Gold to Curacao’s Chade Nercisio. This performance shows marked improvement since 2017 when she placed eighth in the Championship final in 29.24
Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Johnson today and got her opinion about her record breaking performance and her last CARIFTA Championships .
“This CARIFTA was probably my best one yet- I was selected to be a team captain which was made to be a very easy job with the help of the other swimmers, coaches, and team managers. I’ve spent the past few weeks training at Pinecrest with their phenomenal coaches, and they really helped to make this CARIFTA a great one for me- I was able to get early exposure to swimming in LCM and swim alongside other CARIFTA swimmers from other countries as well as Jamaica.
I think it would be an understatement to say how surprised I am about how the butterfly events turned out for me; I haven’t been a flyer for some time now as I have had issues with accommodating stroke rate/strength with my height but Mariusz Podkoscielny really helped me out with that and after working persistently I had great results. I think I performed towards to the level that I have been training to but I will have to continue to work harder for Jamaica and I’m excited to see what that will look like in the future”.
Since 2014 no other nation other than The Bahamas has won a breaststroke event in the 15-17 girls age group. Thanks to sweeps by Laura Morley in 2014, Albury Higgs in 2015 and the joint efforts of the Higgs sisters Albury and Lilly in the years 2016 and 2017 all other nations have been kept out.
With Laura and Albury now navigating in senior water the defence of the Bahamian streak is left to Lilly and teammate Victoria Russell.
Russell who made her first international final at last summer’s Commonwealth Youth Games will be looking to make her mark at her final year at CARIFTA. She is ranked second in the 50 and 100 metre events and fourth in the 200.
Lilly who has committed to swim for the University of North Carolina this September will be looking to lower the Championship record in all three races. Higgs who has is undefeated at these Championships will be looking to lower her records in the 50 and 100 as well as her sister’s in the 200.
Higgs and Russell will be looking to turn back the expected challenges of Aruba’s Anahi Schreuders, Curacao’s Chade Nercisio and Jamaica’s Bryanna Renuart along with other outstanding swimmers from around the region. After competing in Kingston, Higgs will jet off to make her senior international debut at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in GoldCoast Australia. Currently she is the only Bahamian swimmer to medal at the Commonwealth Games when she copped the Silver medal at the Youth Games at home in 2017.
Curacao’s Chadé Nercisio and Jamaica’s Zaneta Alvaranga continued to fine tune their preparations for the 33rd CARIFTA Championships in Kingston Jamaica with record breaking butterfly swims for their nations.
Chadé established herself as the number one female age group swimmer in the CARIFTA region in the 50 metre butterfly in 2017 when she clocked 27.59 to win the Gold medal in the 15-17 age group at the 2017 CCCAN championships in Trinidad and Tobago. At the recently concluded Southern Zone Sectional Championships in Plantation, Florida the East Coast Swim Club representative put clear water between herself and the field in the Championship final of the race when she took the Gold in a new Senior national and 15-17 record of 27.55.Silver went to Alena Kraus of Makos Aquatic Club in 28.24.
Curacao’s “Warrior Princess” is already faster than the existing CARIFTA record of 28.12 by Martinique’s Mika Heideyer . When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Nercisio she gave her thoughts on the race and her preparation for CARIFTA
“I did not know I would go that fast in the 50 metre butterfly. I had other races the day before but they did not go as well as expected so when I swam 27.55 in the 50 I was so happy I dropped .04. I wasn’t expecting it and it did not feel as fast as the time was so it was definitely a big surprise.I am not going to be tapering for CARIFTA but I am going to be trying to do my best times without a taper to see where I am for the CAC (Central American and Caribbean Games) July 19 to August 3”.
Jamaica’s Alvaranga in 2017 broke the 11-12 50 metre butterfly record four times .So far this year she has the 13-14 record twice to put the mark at 29.19 at the Walter Age Group Championships held in February. She would complete the trifecta of record butterfly swims when eclipsed the 100 metre butterfly record of Emily MacDonald of 1:05.86 when she stopped the clock in 1:05.81. The old record was sent just in UANA Cup in Florida which shows the progression of the sport at the age group level. She gave her thoughts about her record swim and her readiness for CARIFTA.
“I feel good about breaking the 100 metre butterfly national age group record in my first year in 13-14.I felt a little bit nervous at the start but I was confident that I would do well. In the race I felt in control because I swam a practice pace that I rehearsed in training”.
The swimming portion of the CARIFTA Championships run from March 31 to April 3 at the National Aquatic Centre.
Day Two of the UANA Cup saw outstanding performances from the CARIFTA region’s swimmers in the 15-17 age group. The names Jacky Kirby of Barbados Gold 100 metre backstroke, Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas Gold 50 metre breaststroke and Kael Yorke of Trinidad and Tobago Bronze 100 metre butterfly were the headline acts.
Kirby, who was named Junior Athlete of the Year for 2017
was sensational in winning the 100 metre backstroke in a time of 56.34.That broke his age group record of 57.01 set at the Commonwealth Youth Games in July in The Bahamas.
It also brings him closer the senior national record of 55.88 Olympian Bradley Ally (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008,London 2012) set at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai China .Ally splits then were 27.38 and 28.50. Not only did Jack establish a meet record for the event he also beat the Youth Olympics A qualifying mark of 56.96. He went out in 27.40 and came back in 28.94. No other swimmer at the meet had Jack’s back end speed in the event as he recorded the only sub 30 seconds second 50 metre split. Silver went to Guillermo Cruz Zuniga of Mexico who clocked 58.80 and the Bronze to Anthony Rincón Velasco of Colombia who was timed in 59.25.Jack gave his impressions of the race to draftingthecaribbean after the race
“The goal for the 100 metre backstroke was to make the 56 low.I had no idea about the senior national record I was just really focusing on the 56 low. I really wanted to get that time because by summer I want to get into the 55 range.Also in terms of competing in 2020 this helps in getting me to 53”.
Also winning Gold and establishing a new meet record was Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas who touched in a time of 29.23 just out touching Cruz Zuniga of Mexico won another Silver in 29.32. Andre Martijena Díaz of the Dominican Republic took the Bronze in 30.19.Izaak gave his thoughts about the race after his win
“The 50 breaststroke was much better than I expected it to be.I did not expect to feel as good as I did in the water.There were a few small things I felt I could fix.I felt I was rushing my stroke a little bit but that just comes with more practice and experience in the race and getting up and going in the morning.That was what this meet was all about for me trying to go as fast as I can in the morning so I can get used to those other big meets like the Commonwealth Games coming up where I am used to swimming fast at night and not in the morning.I am trying to change that to swimming fast in the morning so those swims actually count for something instead of just holding back for the night.I know when I go those bigger meets I wont be able to hold back and maybe not even get a second swim.The race itself was pretty good I got to race some really fast guys.It was a close one this morning I don’t know how I pulled it off my last 5 metres I tried to hold it all together and come in as I fast as I could and finish on a full stroke”.
Kael Yorke won the Bronze in the 100 metre butterfly. He spoke to draftingthecaribbean about his races
“ For my first event the 50 freestyle it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be because I added on time and I wasn’t feeling myself in the water I didn’t let it get to me because I have not been training for while. I took a long break for the Christmas holidays and I only started back training nine days ago so it was a good attempt at the 50 freestyle. I put the focus on my 100 metre butterfly today and tried to do my best. For training for only nine days I thought I did well I swam a 56 not far from my personal best off 55 which was a tapered time. Overall the UANA Cup experience has been a good one so far.The weather conditions are not what my teammates and I are used to because we are accustomed to warmer weather but just being able to compete at this level with the Mexicans, the Colombians and Central Americans is a great experience and I continue to strive to do better in my other events”
Other top CARIFTA region swimmers for the day included