The Bahamian duo of CARIFTA Champions Lilly Higgs and Izaak Bastian made the championship finals at the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games in Barranquilla Colombia on July 20 and 21st respectively.
This competition marks their second opportunity participating at a senior level meet, the first time was earlier this year at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. With more rest between competitions both swimmers who hold the fastest time ever in this event at the CARIFTA level were able to make the Championship final in the 100 metre breaststroke events. Lilly placed fifth in a time of 1:11.32 just ahead of countrywoman Laura Morley who stopped the clock in 1:12.34. In 2014 there was also a Bahamian as Lilly’s older sister Albury had placed fourth in 1:14.06.
Bastian lowered his best time twice .In the heats he had a time of 1:02.99 (split time 29.49) and in the final he placed seventh 1:02.91( split time 28.96). His split is significant as he won the 50 metre breaststroke at CARIFTA in Kingston Jamaica earlier this year in 28.69.
The presence of three Bahamians in Championship finals at this competition also speaks to the proficiency of that nation in this stroke.
Draftingthecaribbean contacted Lilly and asked about her first senior level Championship final and she gave us her thoughts about her first day of competition
“Overall, my races today went pretty well. This morning I swam the backstroke leg on the mixed 4×100 medley relay and later swam 100 breaststroke and qualified for the A final. My prelims swim wasn’t what I wanted, but I was still able to get another swim and am very happy with my finals swim!”
Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe will be looking for a regional tri fecta in the 50 metre. So far this season he claimed the FASTEST SWIMMER title at the 2018 South American Games in Bolivia and the CCCAN Championships in Aruba and will be seeking to do the same in Colombia. At the Rio Olympics he was the CAC region’s top sprinter placing 21st
He started his hot streak at the G.A.M.C. Aquatics Center at Mariscal Santa Cruz Park in Cochabamba in May when he topped the sprinters in a time of 22.65. Winning the Silver was Venezuela’s Cristian Quintero who touched in 22.71 and Brazilian André Calvelo took the Bronze in 22.80.
He would strike more Gold at the CCCAN championships at Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik in early July when he was the only sub 23 seconds swimmer as he clocked 22.88 after being 22.86 in the heats. Silver went to Gershwin Greene of The Bahamas in 23.52 and the Bronze was won by Franco Reyes of Panama in 23.65.
He will now set about the challenge of taking his first CAC Games title after winning Silver in Veracruz Mexico in 22.62.Winning on that occasion was legendary regional swimmer Olympic medallist George Bovell III of Trinidad and Tobago who won his third consecutive title. Defending the throne this time for the twin island republic will be Olympian Dylan Carter and Joshua Romany. He would be familiar with the duo swimming against them in the junior ranks at CARIFTA.
They also finished in the order Renzo 23.44, Dylan 23.46 and Joshua 24.27 in 2013 in Kingston Jamaica when he set then fastest time for CARIFTA 23.37 in the heats before taking Gold.
The swimmer that that took that record from him Izaak Bastian at CARIFTA 2018 also in Jamaica with a time of 23.25 will also be in the 50 metre freestyle lineup trying to deny him the triple.
In 2014 at the South American Games in Chile he finished with the Bronze with 22.88 and this year he upgraded it to Gold. After winning the Silver in Veracruz Mexico will we see Renzo mining Colombian Gold? Will he also be able to break his own national record which is the same time as the 2010 Games record held by Bovell at 22.23 ?
Albury Higgs continued her record breaking run from the 2018 REV National Swimming championships with another record breaststroke swim at the 2018 Bulldog Grand Slam in Athens Georgia.
Competing in the 100 metre breaststroke at the Garbielsen Natatorium on July 6 Albury qualified for the B final with a time of 1:12.12 (split time of 33.42). In the final later that afternoon she used a different approach to the one she employed in record breaking swim in Nassau. She attacked the race from the start with a split of 33.31. That gave her an early advantage of more than a half a second.She would not be caught and split 37.46 on the second 50 metres to win the race in 1:10.77.
COMPARISON OF RECORD SWIMS
100 metre breaststroke
2018 REV National
2018 Bulldog GrandSlam
First 50 metres
Second 50 metres
Albury who lowered the national standards in the 200 and 100 metre breaststroke last month has now bettered the automatic qualifying standards for the 2019 PAN AM Games of 1:11.11.She is also another step closer to going under the mythical 1:10 barrier . Also of note that time would have won the Gold medal at the 2014 CAC (Central American and Caribbean ) Games where she had placed fourth.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Albury she gave us her impression of the race and spoke about her tactics
“I was trying to take out the first 50 faster than I had previously this summer. It went well considering I didn’t rest for this meet, so I am hoping that rest will help me bring the last 50 home a little better. Excited for CAC and to represent the Bahamas one more time this summer!”
Team Bahamas will also be represented at the 2018 CAC Games from July 20 to 25 in Barranquilla, Colombia by Olympian Joanna Evans (Rio 2016),Lilly Higgs,Laura Morley, Izaak Bastian, Kohen Kerr and N’Nhyn Fernander
When Lamar Taylor had been disqualified in the Championship final in the boys 13-14 50 metre freestyle at the 2017 CCCAN Championships after qualifying with a time of 25.18 in July he told draftingthecaribbean would be using that moment as inspiration to be even faster . Less than than a year later he has been true to his word by breaking the national record in the 50 metre freestyle and closing in on being the fastest 13-14 swimmer from the English speaking CARIFTA region OF all time.
Since last summer the Freeport Aquatics swimmer has blazed a trail to become the fastest regional swimmer this season in the 13-14 age category. At the inaugural UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida he was the top CARIFTA swimmer as he won Silver in a time of 24.57, the Gold went to Mexican Victor Salcedo Carrillo who out touched him with a 24.56.
At the CARIFTA Championships in Kingston Jamaica he took the Gold medal in a then personal best of 24.27 . He took the title convincingly as he was more than half a second ahead of the field . In that race he was just short of the national and CARIFTA record of 24.25 set by countryman Izaak Bastian.
At the 2018 Rev national he would make no mistake as he clocked a new PB, Championship record and age group national record of 24.06. In the final he was in scintillating form as he took the title in a time of 23.79. Lowered in the process was the Bastian’s 2016 meet record of 24.56.
The next milestone is getting past the 23.77 of Trinidad and Tobago’s Joshua Romany which stands as the fastest performance by a 13-14 swimmer from the English speaking CARIFTA region.
Already the top seed in the race for the upcoming CCCAN Championships in Aruba he is now faster the meet record of 24.10 held by Venezuela’s Olympian Crox Acuña (Beijing 2008 and London 2012).
50 metre freestyle
DQ 25.18 heats
24.57 Silver *
The national age group record in the 100 metre freestyle would not be spared as it went down as well. In the heats of the event he had splits of 26.24 and 27.72 for a total time of 53.96 to go under 54 seconds for the first time. The old national and Championship record of 54.25 had belonged to Kevon Lockhart. In the final he even split the race 27.60 and 27.51 to win in a time of 55.11.
The 200 metre freestyle saw another easy win for Taylor as he took Gold in 2:03.33 (split time 1:00.47) to be just outside the Championship record of 2:03.28 by John Bradley .
Swimming for exhibition he broke the 50 metre butterfly meet record and age group record of 26.16 and 26.18 respectively by Bastian with a blast of 26.09. His club mate Rommel Ferguson would lower that in the final with time of 25.98.
The 100 metre butterfly final would be a battle between the clubmates. Ferguson struck the first blow when he went out to a lead of 28.52 to Taylor’s 29.97. But in great display of negative splitting Lamar had the only sub 30 seconds split of 29.75 to lead his teammate to the wall 59.75 to 59.95. That would be the first time under the 1 minute mark for both swimmers.
100 metre butterfly
The sprint back stroke events the 50 and 100 metres saw him winning Gold in 28.05 and 1:01.57 respectively.
50 metre backstroke
The 100 metre backstroke effort lowered the Championship record of 1:01.82 held by DaVante Carey. A sub minute performance in the event could be on the cards for Lamar as his splits at CARIFTA and REV nationals suggest that he could be much faster
CARIFTA 30.94 and 30.47 Gold 1:01.41
Rev Nationals 30.11 and 31.46 Gold 1:01.57.
The 1999 national record of 1:00.82 is held by Olympian Chris Vythoulkas (Athens 2004) .
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Lamar he gave us his impression of nationals
“I feel really good about breaking the national records. I came to Nationals with the goals of setting the national marks in the 50 and the 100 freestyle and if I was lucky even more. It felt amazing to go 53 in the heats of the 100 metre freestyle. After my DQ in the 200 individual medley I felt I had to play it safe and that caused me to slow down a lot.So I just came up early (before the 15 metre mark and played it safe). In the 50 metre freestyle I knew that people were watching me on the 15 metre mark so in the heats I popped up early and went as fast as I could. In the final I stayed down a little longer and came up right before the 15 metre. I felt really good about the time and how I broke the record. In my mind during training for Nationals my goals were to better all my times and go under 24 and 54 for my 50 and 100 freestyle. I do have to say I was a little disappointed with my 50 freestyle time as I wanted to get the Youth Olympics Games A cut of 23.56″.
The future of swimming in The Bahamas continues to look bright as seen in the performances of the competitors at the 2018 REV National Swimming Championships which ran June 16-19. One of the top swimmers at the Championships was Nigel Forbes of the Tritons . He won Seven Gold medals in the 11-12 age group while setting new national marks in four events and lowering the Championship record in five races.
In his first race he lowered the meet record in the 200 metre breaststroke with a swim of 2:39.42 . That bettered the old mark of 2:41.45 set by Olympian Dustin Tynes (Rio 2016).He is now within reach of the 2014 national record of 2:38.61 set by local and regional star Izaak Bastian
200 metre breaststroke
In the 100 metre butterfly he dismissed the competition by more than seven seconds to land Gold in a new Personal best of 1:03.27. That broke the 2007 championship record of 1:03.79 set by Evante Gibson in 2007. It also brings him closer to the national record of 1:02.83 set by Samuel Gibson in 2014 . His newly minted PB would also move him from the second seed to the number one swimmer at the upcoming CCCAN Championships in Aruba . The CCCAN Championship record stands at 1:01.83.
100 metre butterfly
His next event , the 400 metre IM he was equally as dismissive as he was more than 20 seconds ahead of the competition as he took Gold in a new Championship and national record time of 5:18.05.He owned the old national record of 5:20.46 which he set in April of this year and the meet record of 5:26.52 was set by Kevon Lockhart in 2015.
The 50 metre butterfly saw him putting on an excellent display of sprinting in both the heats and the finals. The morning preliminaries saw him lowering his personal best and the Championship record of 28.28 held by DaVante Carey and Ian Pinder when they tied for Gold in 2015. The final saw him getting past the another 2007 Gibson national record of 27.77 with a blistering 27.67. That reaffirmed his favourite’s tag and number one seeding for CCCAN. It also brings him within touching distance of being the fastest 11-12 English speaking CARIFTA region swimmer in the event. That accolade belongs to Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympian Dylan Carter (Rio 2016) with his 27.34 blast from 2009.The CCCAN record is 27.30.
50 metre butterfly
28.68 Bronze *
*Top CARIFTA region swimmer
The 200 metre butterfly was the only event he did not set a record in it.He took the title by over 10 seconds stopping the clock in 2:28.42.
Regular service however resumed in the 50 metre breaststroke as he lowered his personal best from 33.74 to 33.34 in the heats. Clearly he had a lot more in the tank as he was in scorching form in the final .He broke the meet and national record of 32.94 regional standout Izaak Bastian with a 32.54 clocking besting the field by over four seconds. He again is the number one seed for CCCAN where the meet record stands at 32.42.
50 metre breaststroke
When draftingthecaribbean contacted him on June 18 he spoke his national record breaking swims in the 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre breaststroke
“It feels good .I know I have been training hard to get these records and now I have finally broken them”.
For his final record breaking act Forbes again lowered his personal best of 1:14.90 to 1:14.40 in the morning heats of the 100 metre breaststroke.The final saw him blasting away the Championship record 1:13.67 (Bastian 2014) and national record 1:12.26 (Tynes 2009) with a time of 1:12.24 split time 33.58. As the clear favourite and top seed in the event he is in reach of the CCCAN record of 1:12.18
At the 2018 CARIFTA in Kingston Jamaica it seemed fitting if not almost poetic that Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas would win the 50 metre freestyle in a Championship record and crown himself the fastest of all time in a country known for its sprinting abilities. Added to that the previous Championship record was also set in Jamaica five years earlier .
In 2017 Bastian had made the medal podium with a Silver medal winning effort in front of his home crowd with a time of 23.76 in the 15-17 age group. That was his PB and his only entry under the 24 seconds barrier. He posted 24.35 to be the fourth fastest heading into the Championship final.That morning swim on April 3 pointed towards another sub 24 clocking as he was 24.33 in the heats in 2017. He would be well under 24 seconds and would be the only swimmer under 23.50 as he took the title and wrote another page in the history books as set a new PB , Championship record and earned himself the moniker of the fastest swimmer at the CARIFTA Championships when he stopped the clock in 23.25. Silver went to Kai Legband of Bermuda in 23.93 and the Bronze to Jack Kirby of Barbados in 24.03.
In 2013 future Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe (Rio 2016) set the 50 metre freestyle record with a heat swim of 23.37 on April 2.He would take the Gold just off that time as he touched in 23.44 turning back the challenges of the Trinidad and Tobago duo of another future Olympian Dylan Carter (Rio 2016) 23.46 and Joshua Romany 24.27. A year later he would take the Silver in the same event at the CAC Games in Veracruz Mexico with a time of 22.62.
Speaking to Draftingthecaribbean today Bastian recounted that historic swim in Jamaica
“The 50 free was pretty good for me.I knew that I had to get out in front of everyone from the start to get out of the waves and get clear water.I wanted to see what I could do at the start and build on that momentum throughout the race.I did not have a goal time I just wanted to give the race my all and focus on the things we have been working on in practice coming off the block fast , fast breakout. I did not really look at the record before I did not really think I would get the record.It was a big surprise to look up see that I went 23.2”
Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas proved he is ready to navigate senior international waters when he recorded an eye opening 2:17.78 to win Gold yesterday in the Boy’s 15-17 200 metre breaststroke.
Bastian looked like he was in cruise control in the morning when he posted the second fastest time of the heats with a time of 2:27.85. The morning’s top time was secured by Luis Sebastian Weekes of 2:26.55.
In the final Izaak signalled his intentions from the starter’s gun and took the lead immediately. He blazed the first 100 metres in 1:05.33. At that point he was already some two body lengths ahead of the field. His split was so fast that it bettered the 100 metre breaststroke Youth Olympics B time of 1:05.93.
He kept turning on the pressure and pulled even further away from the chasing pack to record a new PB, Bahamian Age Group Record , Bahamian Senior National record , CARIFTA Championship record and Youth Olympics A qualifying time of 2:17.78. His old personal best stood at 2:20.52.
The CARIFTA record was set by Aruban age group standout Jordy Groters in 2014 in a time of 2:20.14.
The senior national record was held by Olympian Dustin Tynes (Rio 2016) at 2:18.13 at the 2015 PAN AM Games. The Youth Olympic Games A standard is 2:18.10.
In 2017 Izaak became the first Bahamian man to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when he took Silver and Bronze in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke at the Youth Games at home. The Florida State University commit will be heading to the Gold Coast in Australia after CARIFTA to make his senior international debut at the Senior Commonwealth Games.
Silver went to Weekes in a time of 2:23.63 just off his personal best and the Bronze to Bastian’s teammate Tyler Russell in 2:27.00.