JAMAICA’S SHAUN JOHNSON SETS FIRST INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL RECORD AT LAST CARIFTA CHAMPIONSHIPS

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.

Shaun Johnson flag bearer UANA M Lyn
Shaun Johnson UANA Cup Flag bearer Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

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.

Johnson on podium
Johnson on medal podium Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

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

15-17 50 fly podium
15-17 50 metre butterfly podium from left to right Philip,Nercisio and Johnson Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

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”.

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HIGGS AND RUSSELL PREPARE TO DEFEND 15-17 BREASTSTROKE FORTRESS

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.

Albury higgs profile gamecocks online
Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of gamecocksonline
Laura Morley Indiana University Swimming and Diving
Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Indiana Swimming and Diving

With Laura and Albury now navigating in senior water the defence of the Bahamian streak is left to Lilly and  teammate Victoria Russell.

Victoria Russell
Victoria Russell finalist in the women’s 100 metre breaststroke at the  2017 Commonwealth Youth Games

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 Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

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.

Year Stroke Time
2016 200 2:35.33
2017 100 1:11.70
2017 50 32.70

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.

FLY GIRLS NERCISIO AND ALVARANGA LOWER NATIONAL BUTTERFLY RECORDS

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.

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Chadé Nercisio starts her race Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

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”.

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Zaneta Alvaranga Photo courtesy of Cheser Adams

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.

UANA CUP DAY TWO 15-17 AGE GROUP JACK KIRBY OF BARBADOS WINS GOLD IN 100 METRE BACKSTROKE IN AGE GROUP AND YOUTH OLYMPICS A TIME,BAHAMIAN BASTIAN WINS 50 METRE BREASTSTROKE, KAEL YORKE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO COPS BUTTERFLY BRONZE

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.

Jack UANA
Jack Kirby UANA Gold medallist and Barbadian age group in the 100 metre backstroke

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.

Bradley Ally panamerican world
Bradley Ally Photo courtesy of panamerican world

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”.

Izaak Bahamas Nationals
Izaak Bastian  Photo courtesy of Bahamas Swimming

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 UANA
Kael Yorke Bronze medallist in the 100 metre butterfly

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

 

 

sam bailey uana cup cayman swimming
Sam Bailey of the Cayman Islands Top CARIFTA 15-17 swimmer in the 400 IM Photo courtesy of Cayman Swimming
Britney williams UANA day 2
Britney Williams top CARIFTA 15-17 swimmer in the 200 metre freestyle

 

Ileana Bocage
Ileana Bocage top 15 -17 CARIFTA swimmer in the 50 metre breaststroke
Name Country Event Age Group Time Place
Sam Bailey Cayman Islands 400 metre IM 15-17 5:23.05 7th
Chadé M. Nersicio Curacao 100 metre butterfly 15-17 1:05.97 8th
Britney Williams Jamaica 200 metre freestyle 15-17 2:09.74 7th
Graham Chatoor Trinidad and Tobago 200 metre freestyle 15-17 1:59.43 12th
Ileana Bocage Trinidad and Tobago 50 metre breaststroke 15-17 34.70 4th
Danielle Titus Barbados 100 metre backstroke 15-17 1:06.30 5th

LOOKING BACK AT THE WINTER JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS LILLY HIGGS MAKES CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL IN 100 YARD BREASTSTROKE AT WINTER CHAMPS

As some of the CARIFTA region top age swimmers prepare for themselves for competition at the inaugural UANA Swimming Cup in Coral Springs Florida starting tomorrow January 19 draftingcaribbean looks back at the region’s youngsters efforts at the 2017 SPEEDO Winter Junior Championships -EAST in December. The UANA Cup is designed for athletes from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean that are in UANA Zones 1 and 2. Hence Americans and Canadians will not be invited

On December 8 in Knoxville Tennessee Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas who represents SwimMac Carolina was the most outstanding female CARIFTA performer. Lilly, who was voted The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year https://thenassauguardian.com/2017/12/28/junior-female-athlete-of-the-year/ made her first Championship final in the 100 yard breaststroke.

Link to Women’s 100y Breast A Final | 2017 Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=ot7y3OBW7co

 

She placed 8th of the 102 competitors in the field with a time of 1:01.86. Her previous placings were 9th in 2015 and 11th in 2016.

Higgs on way to sprint breaststroke double at CARIFTA 2017
Lilly en route to the 100 metre breaststroke Gold medal at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in The Bahamas Photo courtesy of Micheal C Lyn

Higgs has been unbeaten at the CARIFTA level in the  100 metre breaststroke for the last three years and holds the 15-17 age group record at 1:11.92.

Higgs finished 57th in the 400 yard individual medley in a time of 4:26.97 just off her personal best of 4:25.49.

Lauren Hew Saint andrews aquatics
Lauren Hew Photo courtesy of Saint Andrews Aquatics

Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands and Saint Andrew’s Aquatics was 66th in the 100 yard backstroke in a time of 56.37. Hew, won the CARIFTA Gold medal in her final year of the 15-17 age group in 2017 in the 100 metre backstroke and holds the record at 1:05.94. She also finished 80th in the 200 yard freestyle in 1:52.27. Lauren also won the 200 metre freestyle at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in 2:05.98 finishing ahead of Higgs.

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Chadé Nercisio before her race Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Curacao’s Chade Nersicio was 17th in the 200 yard freestyle relay team in a time of 1:34.93.She was just off her best time of 57.98 in the 100 yard butterfly as she hit the wall in 58.01. It would be another close miss for a personal record for the East Coast Aquatics swimmer in the 100 yard breaststroke as she stopped the clock in 1:05.72 and her personal record is 1:05.48. Nersicio is ranked 3rd in the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke with a time of 1:14.61.

LILLY HIGGS PUTS THE CARIFTA REGION ON THE MEDAL PODIUM AGAIN ON DAY 2 OF WINTER CHAMPS WITH RELAY BRONZE, NERCISIO WINS C FINAL IN 50 YARD FREESTYLE

 

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.

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Lauren Hewe Photo courtesy of caymansportsbuzz.com

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

KIRBY AND HIGGS PUT CARIFTA REGION ON THE MEDAL PODIUM BY WINNING BRONZE MEDALS ON DAY ONE OF 2017 SPEEDO WINTER JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – EAST

On the first day of the 2017 SPEEDO Winter Junior Championships – East at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville Tennessee on Dec 6 the CARIFTA region had reason to celebrate through the medal winning performances of regional standouts Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas representing SwimMac Carolina and Jack Kirby of Barbados representing Baylor Swim Club.

Lilly Higgs North Carolina

Higgs , a University of North Carolina commit, swimming as a member of the 200 yard medley relay A team won the Bronze medal. The squad of Julia Menkhaus backstroke 25.05, Higgs breaststroke 28.07, Sophie Lindner butterfly 23.96 and Olywyn Bartis 22.64 recorded a total time of 1:39.07. Being held simultaneously in University of Iowa Recreation Center in Iowa City Iowa is the competition for the West. When the results from meets in both the East and West are combined the SwimMac time was the 4th fastest of the 104 competing teams. Lilly also recorded the 8th fastest breaststroke split overall.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

She is also the reigning 15-17 CARIFTA champion in the 50 metre breaststroke and has been unbeaten in the sprint breaststroke events  for the last three years.

Kirby would win the same colour medal as his regional counterpart as his Baylor team won the Bronze in the 200 yard medley relay as well. With the combined results the team was also the 5th fastest overall.

jack-kirby-baylor-swimming
Jacky Kirby in action in the backstroke  Photo courtesy of Baylor Swimming

Jack crushed his previous personal best of 23.70 in the 50 yard backstroke with a lead off swim of 23.03.His teammates Piotr Kurleto breaststroke 25.28, Zachariah Althoff butterfly 22.32 and Robert Freeman freestyle 19.92 finished in a time of 1:30.55.

jacky-kirby-tastey-photo
Jack Kirby Photo courtesy of Tastey Blackman

Kirby, who is the reigning CARIFTA Silver medallist in the 15-17 50 metre backstroke had the 18th fastest backstroke split of 101 competing teams.

Bronze medal winning Baylor team
Kirby with members of his Baylor relay team Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

There would be more success for Kirby as his 800 yard freestyle relay team the held the 800 yard freestyle championship record briefly before their time was bettered by two other teams to finish with the Bronze medal. The same team from the medley relay team Althoff 1:39.20,Kirby 1:39.17,Kurleto 1:37.84 and Freeman 1:34.44 stopped the clock in 6:30.65. That bettered the 2016 Scottsdale Aquatics meet record 6:31.93. Silver went Mason Manta Rays in 6:28.95 and Gold to the Carmel Swim Club in 6:28.25.

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Chadé Nercisio  Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Others in action from the region on the day was Curaçao’s star sprinter Chadé Nercisio who anchored her East Coast Aquatics Swim club to 29th spot in the East Championships with a quick split of 22.92. The 20 fastest overall anchor from both meets. The final team time was 1:45.52.At her last CARIFTA Championship in 2016 she won the 13-14 50 metre freestyle.

Irvin via Rafael
Irvin Hoost Photo courtesy of Rafael Van Leeuwaarde

Irvin Hoost of Suriname provided the 7th fastest freestyle anchor split of both meets with his time of 20.01 .That powered his Metro Aquatics Swim club to 10th in the East with a time of 1:31.55.Hoost recently won the Florida 2A State Championship in the 50 yard freestyle and was 6th in the 50 metre freestyle at his last CARIFTA Championships.

Joseph black M Lyn
Joseph Black .Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

In the 800 yard freestyle relay Jamaican Joseph Black gave his Peddie Aquatics team a second leg of 1:42.84 to help to 6:51.92 and 27th overall in the East. Black was a member of the 800 metre freestyle team that won Jamaica’s first Gold medal in the 15-17 age group.