Another of the region’s top junior swimmers showed the class of swimmer the CARIFTA region is producing by making a major senior international final. It was the turn of Jack Kirby of Barbados who qualified for the 100 metre backstroke final.
Coming to the championships Kirby was a known quantity regionally in the junior ranks .This was evidenced by his season where he set the Championship record at the UANA Cup with a national record of 56.34 and a Championship record and the fastest time ever at CARIFTA of 56.59.
He would break his 15-17 age group national record with a time of 56.22 to place second in heat 1 . His speed endurance was seen with the fastest second 50 metres of all the swimmers as he moved from fourth to second with a 28.64 clocking. The swim also moved him to the top of the list in terms of Barbadian 100 metre backstroke performances as he bettered the previous best time of CAC legend Nicky Neckles in his Silver medal winning performance at the 2010 Games.
Neckles won a complete set of medals in the event Bronze in 2002, Gold in 2006 when he swept the 50, 100 and 200 events and Silver in 2010.
In the final he changed tactics and went out hard and was second at the turn in 26.77. He could not withstand the charge from the field and placed a creditable fifth in yet another national age record time 56.19.
NATIONAL AGE GROUP RECORD PROGRESSION
CAC 2018 heats
CAC 2018 Final
First 50 metres
Second 50 metres
Draftingthecaribbean contacted Kirby and got his reaction about his swim
” I was hoping for 55 but my finals event wasn’t executed properly. The race was exciting though as everyone was close”. His record swims were all under the automatic A standard for the Youth Olympics of 56.96 ,and the 2019 PAN AM a standard of 56.49. It also brings him closer to the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM) B standard of 55.95 and the 2011 national senior record of 55.88 held by Olympian Bradley Ally.
The morning heats of the 100 metre freestyle saw big time drops for the Team Barbados duo of Alex Sobers and Jack Kirby
Sobers lowered his personal best of 51.82 (split time 25.25) from the TYR Pro Swim Series in Atlanta on March 1 to 50.74 (split time 24.13) to rank 9th overall and qualify for the B final. He will contest the Championship final at 8.22 pm local time. Sobers gave his thoughts to draftingthecaribbean about his PB
“I am happy with the new best time (50.74).Renzo Tjon A Joe (Suriname) was in the lane next to me, so I used that to push me.That swim gave me a positive attitude towards the meet , I am looking forward to the rest of my swims”.
Teammate Kirby was also in record breaking form as he crushed his personal best and national 15-17 age group record of 52.04 (split time 25.70) that he recorded in January at the UANA Cup in Florida to place 10th in a time of 50.97 (split time 25.10). That swim also propelled him past the Youth Olympics A standard time of 51.40.Draftingthecaribbean contacted Kirby and got his thoughts on record swim
“50.97 was a surprise to me because my goal for the race was 51. It felt like a normal 100 free race to me and I believe having older competitors helped my outcome a lot.”
Both swimmers will be chasing top honours in the B final slated for 8:16pm local time as well as the 2019 Gwangju Korea World Championships and 2018 Hangzhou, China World Short Course B time of 50.51. Also in their sights will be the senior national record of Shawn Clarke of 50.40.Clarke set that record leading off the 2009 Rome World championships 400 metre freestyle relay and had an opening split of 24.48
When the pool swimming component of the CARIFTA Championships ended on April 3 Luis Sebastian Weekes had won the Silver in the 200 metre breaststroke, Silver in the 100 metre breaststroke and placed fourth in the 50 metre breaststroke .
He also ended his last CARIFTA Championships as the fastest breaststroker from Barbados to compete at the meet. With times of 30.60 (2018), 1:06.37 (2018) and 2:23.53 (2017) no other person from his country has been as quick in these events.
To add to his legacy at the regional competition he also took the Gold medals in the 200 and 400 metre individual medley races in times of 2:08.97 and 4:42.71 .
In the 400 IM he has won a complete set of medals 2016 Bronze 4:47.76, 2017 Silver 4:45.41. No other swimmer from Barbados has won a medal in this event for the 15-17 boys other than Weekes since Bradley Ally won Gold in The Bahamas in 2004.
The shorter medley witnessed the first time Barbados was winning two medals in the 15-17 age group with teammate and Baylor school mate Jack Kirby stopping the clock in 2:09.56 to win the Silver.
The last time this happened was again in 2004 when Ally completed the medley double and countryman Shawn Clarke collected the Bronze.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Weekes he described the 100 metre breaststroke as being his best event at the Championships as he improved his time. In his words, “the 200 was little bit stressful as because I haven’t really trained for it. I was training more for the Individual medleys”. He also described the 200 IM as a very fun race as he won from Lane one thought it was a second or two slower than what he wanted.
He also described his CARIFTA experience
“It’s been a fun ride with a lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have traded the experiences for the world. I also made friendships that will last forever and I am eternally grateful”.
This September he will also be leaving ranks of high school and the Baylor School to be competing at NCAA Division III powerhouse Kenyon College. He will be joined by CARIFTA region standouts for their respective countries Joseph Black (Jamaica) and Eddie Weber (The Cayman Islands).
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”
The Barbados Boys at Baylor Jack Kirby and Luis Sebastian Weekes produced yet another series of best times at the 2018 Tennessee State Champs to help their school capture yet another boy’s title.
Jack would start the proceedings by winning the 100 yard freestyle state title in a new personal record. He cruised to the final with a time of 46.35. In the championship final he took the fight to the field early with a split of 21.38.As seen with his improved back end speed in past competitions he out split the chasing pack by recording the fastest last 50 yards of 23.07. He touched the wall in 44.45 , marking his first time under the 45 seconds barrier .His previous best was 45.21 leading off the Baylor team at the SPEEDO Winter Junior championships –East in 45.21 .
He bettered the 2014 time of countryman Christian Selby who won the crown in 44.76 . This is the third 100 yard freestyle title won by a CARIFTA region swimmer from Baylor under the tutelage of Coach Dan Flack . The first Champion being Jamaican Brad Hamilton ,who won in 2007 in a time of 45.15.The swim also places Kirby number two all time at Baylor .
In the 100 yard backstroke Kirby would again cruise to time of 50.36 to easily make the Championship final. In the afternoon’s final it would be a coronation rather than a race as Jack went out in 23.29 for the first 50 and that pace was too hot for the field as he had an advantage of almost a second. And as has been the custom he out split the field over the last 50 yards to post 24.94 and record yet another new personal best of 48.23. His performance is the fourth fastest all time in state history and third all-time at Baylor.
He had previous finishes at the State champs of sixth and eighth.
Road to Gold
In the final race of the day the Baylor team of Trey Freeman 43.87, Piotr Kurleto 45.47, Zach Althoff 45.40and Kirby 44.78 broke the magical 3 minute mark for high school teams to record a new school and Championship record of 2:59.52. That broke the state record set last year of 2017 of 3:01.21 and the school record of 3:00.78 of which Kirby was a member of both teams.
That makes it Six titles in the 400 yard freestyle relay with CARIFTA region swimmers coached by Flack at Baylor following wins with Hamilton in 2008 and 2009 and Selby in 2014 and 2015.
Countryman Weekes did not let the disappointment of a DQ in the 200 yard freestyle relay deter him from doing his best in the 100 yard breaststroke. He won the Bronze in a new personal best of 56.15 (split time 25.80).
It is the first medal for Baylor in the event since Bahamian Dustin Tynes won the title in 2014. Luis is the now fourth all time at Baylor.
Baylor topped the competition for the boys with 315 points. Second went to McCallie with 257 points and third to Memphis University School with 215.Baylor also won the combined title
Day one of the Tennessee State Champs on Friday Feb 9 saw the CARIFTA region earning Two Gold medal from the Barbados Boys at Baylor Luis Sebastian Weekes and Jack Kirby.
Luis won his first individual Gold medal in his final high school meet in the 200 yard individual medley. He had set a new personal best of 1:51.36 (Split time 52.72) in the event at the SPEEDO Winter Nationals -East in December but would not be content with that in his final school meet. In the morning heats he cruised to the Championship final with a new PB of 1:50.99 (split time 52.45) to be the top seed. In the final he opened faster than in the preliminaries with butterfly split of 24.29 to be fourth. He then unleashed a 27.78 backstroke leg to take the lead and halfway split of 52.01 .Jack Hamilton of Webb tried to make a move with Weekes and stay close with his split of 52.34. As the boys from Baylor have shown they have superior back end speed and this would be no different Weekes pulled away on the breaststroke leg to gain a lead of more than a second then recorded the fastest freestyle leg of the meet of 26.35 to record yet another personal best of 1:50.22 to win by almost 2 seconds. Gabriel Johnson of Chattanooga Home School won Silver in 1:51.95 and Hamilton won the Bronze in 1:52.68. The Gold emphasized the great improvement Weekes has made in the last year as he finished 4th last year in 1:52.17. He now moves form 11th all time at Baylor to 4th and the number one CARIFTA region swimmer at the school.
The meet started with the CARIFTA connection of Kirby and Weekes providing the first half of the Gold medal winning 200 medley relay team.
In the preliminaries Kirby continued his great PB breaking streaking when he broke 23 seconds for the 50 yard backstroke for the first time. His previous best was 23.03 set leading off the relay team at the SPEEDO Winter Junior National Championships –East. Yesterday he rocketed to 22.65. In the final he was again under 23 seconds leading off in 22.82. Weekes provided a breaststroke split of 25.41 to give Baylor an insurmountable two second lead. Teammates Zach Althoff butterfly 21.96 and Piotr Kurleto freestyle 20.37 ensured that the team romped home to a more than two second win clocking 1:30.56. Maryville High won Silver in 1:33.99 and McCallie won Bronze with Jamaican Alex Mignott doing anchor leg duties in 1:34.78.
This win is the third fastest performance in Baylor history. The second fastest includes the quartet that had Kirby leading off at the 2017 Winter Junior Nationals that did 1:30.55. The fastest time at Baylor and the fastest high school performance is 1:27.74 from 2014 that included Bahamian Dustin Tynes and Barbadian Christian Selby. This is the first Gold medal for Baylor since the 2015 season where the team won in 1:32.20 and included Bahamian Gershwin Greene and Selby.
The final day of the UANA CUP in Coral Springs Florida saw Jack Kirby of Barbados completing the backstroke sprint double. Kirby would be the best placed swimmer from the CARIFTA region as he placed second overall with 26.5 points. Kirby, who was fittingly named Junior Athlete of the Year for 2017 for his nation lived up to that accolade by producing yet another another stellar performance.
He started his run of good performances by completing the CARIFTA region trifecta in the 50 metre backstroke. Earlier Zarek Wilson of Trinidad and Tobago and Lamar Taylor of The Bahamas captured the 11-12 and 13-14 crowns respectively.
He won the event in a time of 26.63 holding off Mexican standout Guillermo Cruz Zuniga who stopped the clock 26.73 .Matheus Zacharias of Brazil won the Bronze in 27.16. Kirby’s effort lowered his previous 15-17 national record of 26.88 set at the World Junior Championships in Indianapolis on August 25.It also bettered the Youth Olympic Games A qualifying standard of 26.73.He completed the backstroke double after winning the 100 metre in an new age group and Youth Olympic A standard time of 56.34.
In his sights for the CARIFTA Games will be the Championship record of 26.31 set by Trinidad and Tobago’s David McLeod at the 2014 Aruba Championships.
In the 100 metre freestyle he placed 4th in a time of 52.04 (split time 25.70) .He was just out touched by Zacharias who punched the clock in 51.96. Kirby’s strong back end speed was evidenced yet again as he produced the fastest last 50 metres of the competition of 26.34.
His effort earned him yet another age group record as he lowered the 52.25 (split time 25.42) set by Olympian Alex Sobers (Rio 2016) when he won Gold at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships in Martinique.
In the very last event of the day the mixed 200 metre freestyle relay Kirby lead off the Barbados team with a time of 23.68. That broke yet another Sobers age group standard of 24.14. Alex had set the record in the heats of the 50 metre freestyle at the 2016 CARIFTA championships. That also puts Kirby within striking distance of the Youth Olympics A standard time of 23.56. The other members of the team Danielle Titus 27.79, McKayla Treasure 29.31 and Luis Sebastian Weekes helped to produce a total time of 1:45.39 just missing the age group record of 1:45.16 to place 8th overall. The national age group record was set by the team of Sobers, Hannah Gill, Damon St Prix and Treasure set at the 2016 Caribbean Island Swimming championships in The Bahamas.
With that swim Kirby has put his name in the conversation to swim the event at CARIFTA in Jamaica and possibly go after the Championship record of 23.37 set by Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe (Rio 2016) of Suriname at the 2013 Kingston Championships. Kirby gave his thoughts about his final day performances to draftingthecaribbean
“To me the race (50 metre backstroke) didn’t feel that great but the outcome was good. For the 100 free, the plan was to make the same time or better from the day before. For the 50 free, the goal was just to make the 23 from the start of the meet so making it on the second attempt was a great feeling”.