It was CARIFTA region ladies on Day Two of the swimming competition at the CAC (Central American and Caribbean ) Games in Barranquilla Colombia asOlympians Joanna Evans of The Bahamas and Jamaican doubled their Gold medal count . Both ladies set national records on their way to winning the 200 metre freestyle and 50 metre butterfly events respectively.
Coming to the competition Joanna was already the best the CARIFTA region had ever produced in the 200 metre freestyle with a national record of 1:59.19. What would now be asked is how could the competition push to her to new levels of excellence. Last night’s final would not disappoint.When the race got underway Joanna took the lead at the first turn with a time of 28.13. She was however closely followed by 2014 Bronze medallist Elisbet Gamez Matos of Cuba with 28.45 and Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez 28.65. Lilianna could not hold the pace leaving Joanna and Elisbet to record the only sub 59 seconds 100 metre splits of 58.18 and 58.69. It would be the third 50 metres where Evans had a split of 30.01 that broke the Cuban resistance. Although Elisbet made a push on the final 50 metres it would not be enough as Joanna won in a new PB, national record and Games record of 1:58.03. The old record of 2:00.19 belong to Olympic Gold medallist Claudia Poll . Poll was a dominant force in her time in the event as she won virtually every Gold medal that was on offer.
|Date and Venue||Medal|
|1993 Pan Pacific Champs||Gold|
|1995 World Short Course Champs||Gold|
|1998 World Champs (LCM)||Gold|
|2006 CAC Games||Gold|
This is a major jump up the standings for Evans as in 2014 she placed sixth in 2:04.07.With her win Evans becomes the FIRST Bahamian man or woman to win the 200 metre freestyle as well as first English speaking woman to win the event .Joanna is the FIRST Bahamian man or woman complete the 200 and 400 metre free Gold Double. She is also the first CARIFTA region swimmer man or woman to complete the double in record time. Olympian Carolyn Adel did the double in 1998 but only the 400 metre freestyle was a Games Record. Her record swim automatically qualifies her for the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games, 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming championships and 2019 Gwangju (LCM) World Championships. Silver went Gamez Matos in 1:58.55 and Lilianna the Bronze in 2:01.36.
When draftingthecaribbean contacted new Games record holder she spoke about the race and her expectations
“Going in, I knew it would be a close race. It’s always exciting to be able to race. It’s hard to tell how fast your going because it’s a little on the warm side, but I felt good. It’s great to get Team Bahamas fired up”.
National record progression
|Date and Venue||First 100||Second 100||Final Time|
|Aug 24,2017 WUG||58.23||1:00.83||1:59.19|
Colombia will hold special memories for Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson as it was in 2006 when the 50 metre butterfly was introduced to swimming schedule she was the first winner of the event in Cartagena in a time of 28.59. Fast forward to 2018 in Barranquilla and Atkinson has not lost her appetite for Colombian Gold. In the heats we saw signs that the Gold would be heading to Kingston when she broke her three year old 50 national record of 26.65 with a time of 26.54. She would not be top seed as that went to 2010 and 2014 Bronze medallist Jeserik Pinto of Venezuela who got Lane 4 with a time of 26.52. In the final however Alia would prevail with a time of 26.60. Pinto upgraded her Bronze to Silver with a time of 26.76. Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez returned to win another Bronze in 27.08. With that swim Atkinson closes in on the A standard for the 2019 Gwangju World Champs of 26.34.
The event has been dominated by the CARIFTA region ladies as no swimmers other than Atkinson and recently retired Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace have won this race.Additionally Vanderpool-Wallace holds the Games record at 26.46