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”.
The final day of the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida on Jan 21 saw Nigel Forbes of the Bahamas and Zarek Wilson of Trinidad and Tobago landing more titles. The two swimmers were the top individual swimmers in all the individual events.
Forbes would complete the sprint breaststroke double when he took the 100 metre breaststroke title in a time of 1:15.07. The race itself was a close battle between Forbes and Brazilian Breno Bespo as they had respective splits of 35.40 and 35.41. Forbes’ superior back end speed proved decisive as he turned in the only sub 40 second last 50 in the field to touch in 1:15.07. Bespo stopped the clock in 1:16.07. Mexican Nathan Ochoa Neurouth won the Bronze in 1:18.90.
Earlier in the day he would add the 50 metre butterfly Bronze to the 100 metre butterfly Silver he had won earlier. Forbes would stop the clock in 28.68.Nigel will certainly have the 2009 CARIFTA record of Dylan Carter in his sights .
Draftingthecaribbean got a few words from Nigel about his medal winning performances and UANA overall
“It was a good experience for me I enjoyed event and the competition was very tough. But in the end my hard work payed off because I ended up with Two Gold One Silver and a Bronze. It was a good meet for me and I hope to do even better next time”.
50 metre breaststroke
100 metre breaststroke
100 metre butterfly
50 metre butterfly
Easily the most versatile CARIFTA region swimmer at the meet Zarek Wilson lead a Gold Rush for the boys in the 50 metre backstroke. Copping Gold as well were Lamar Taylor of The Bahamas 13-14 and Jack Kirby of Barbados 15-17. Zarek completed the sprint backstroke double when he won his race in 30.20.He will be looking to take down the 2014 CARIFTA record of 29.80 set by Suriname’s Yael Touw Ngie Tjouw. Zarek had a convincing victory as the Silver medallist from Mexico José Nangullasmú Arellane touched in 31.80 Simon Bermudez of Colombia won Bronze in 32.83.Wilson would be back to medal winning ways again in the very next event taking the Silver medal in the 100 metre freestyle in a time of 58.30.
Wilson’s strong performances follow in the same vein of top age group swimmers that we have seen from the twin island Republic to include Joshua Romany, Dylan Carter, Nicholas Bovell and George Bovell III to name just a few. Zarek gave draftingthecaribbean a few words about the competition overall
“The UANA Swim Cup provided excellent competition and it was also an opportunity to see where I am in my training. I am happy that I was able to contribute to Team TTO’s efforts and improve a few of my personal bests. My focus now returns to preparing for CARIFTA”.
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
The CARIFTA region’s swimmer performed well on the opening day of the UANA Cup . The meet which being held in Coral Springs Florida is designed for athletes from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean that are in UANA Zones 1 and 2. Despite the temperature reaching as low as 14 degrees Celsius the Regions swimmers still brought the heat winning EIGHT medals on the day Three Silver and Four Bronze medals. Leading the way in the 11-12 age group was Zarek Wilson who won a Silver and Two Bronze medals.
Zarek became not only the first medallist from Trinidad and Tobago but the Region when he won the Bronze in the 400 metre freestyle in a time of 4:33.49.He would also win the Region’s second medal when he won yet another Bronze in the 200 metre individual medley in a time of 2:31.50. He would complete the medal hat trick when he won the Silver in the 50 metre freestyle in a time of 27.32. He had the following thoughts about his performances
“The first day was a bit tough because the weather was colder than what I am accustomed to. I am happy to have won medals for Trinidad and Tobago. The competition was stiff, which is what Coach Edmund Pouchet wanted me to face. The UANA Cup is a chance to face quality swimmers so I can see all the areas I have to improve. I am looking forward to the rest of my races where I hope to challenge my best times.”
Zarek’s Silver lead to a medal rush with the region winning medals as well in the 13-14 and 15-17 races. In the 13-14 race it was The Bahamas Lamar Taylor who also took the Silver in a time of 24.57 and earned The Bahamas first medal of the competition.He was edged by the narrowest of margins by Mexican Victor Salcedo Carrillo who clocked 24.56. Lamar spoke to draftingthecaribbean about his performance
“After the disappointment at CCCAN (he was disqualified in the final) I basically just wanted to regain my title and swim my heart out.The race went pretty well .My start was not the best but it was good enough for me to get enough momentum.During the race I looked once and saw the boy in Lane 3 and swam harder . I was kind of disappointed by the one hundredth defeat but to be honest I wasn’t really focused on the place I was focused on the time”.
There would be another medal for The Bahamas as Izaak Bastian won the Bronze in the 15-17 age group.He won Bronze in a time of 24.08.That swim was under the Youth Olympic B qualifying time of 24.38. He gave his analysis of his race
“The 50 was a pretty good race for where I am in my training.I took some more time off than I usually do because I knew coming into the next 2 or 3 years in my training I know I will have to be very focused and not take off that much time.This winter break I took off 18 days so I could mentally reset before going into the next 2 years and decompress from 2017.This was only my second week back in training so to get up and go 24.0 with only two weeks of training was pretty impressive for me so I was really happy with the time.It was also great to see the swimmers I don’t normally race from Argentina and Brazil.I felt I had a good race the breakout was good I felt like I getting on it in my first couple of strokes which is something I have been working on a lot in practice”
Roan Baker of Barbados in the 13-14 age group earned his country’s first medal when he won the Silver in the 200 metre individual medley in a time of 2:18.23.
Barbados would earn the last medal for the region when the Boys 15-17 200 metre medley relay team of Jack Kirby backstroke 27.47,Nkosi Dunwoody breaststroke 31.93 ,Luis Sebastian Weekes butterfly 27.16 and Damon St Prix freestyle freestyle won the Bronze in a new senior national and 15-17 age group record of 1:51.99. That lowered decades old record of 2:02.88 set back April 1993.That team had in their line up Dean Durant doing backstroke and Chris Moseley doing anchor leg duties.
The young ladies winning medals on the day included Jamaica’s Emily MacDonald who won the Silver in the 13-14 50 metre freestyle in 27.42.She gave draftingthecaribbean an assessment of her performance on Day One
“Medalling at UANA was a very big accomplishment for me especially swimming against the best swimmers from Central and South America who I am not used to competing against. Winning the very first medal for Jamaica at this meet was also a big accomplishment for me”.
Winning the only medal for the Region’s 15-17 girls
was Curacao sprint princess Chadé M. Nersicio. She won the Silver in the event in 26.72 under the Youth Olympics B qualifying time of 27.39
With the inaugural UANA Cup set for Coral Springs almost upon us draftingthecaribbean looks back at the strong performances of the Barbados boys of Baylor Jack Kirby and Luis Sebastian Weekes on the final day of the Winter Junior Championships –East .Both young men will feature prominently in Florida for their country in the next coming days.
Competing in Knoxville Tennessee on Dec 9 Jack Kirby , who was recently named his country’s Junior Athlete of the Year for 2017 recorded personal best twice in the 200 yard backstroke. Heading into the competition his personal standard stood at 1:49.84.He would crush that mark to record a new best time of 1:47.19. That would qualify him for the B final. In that race there would be another considerable time drop as he won that race in a time of 1:45.35.
Link to race
Analysis of Kirby’s best 200 yard backstroke times
Kirby along with teammates Zach Althoff, Piotr Kurleto, and Trey Freeman would crush the old Baylor 400 yard freestyle relay record of 3:02.14 with a time of 3:00.78 to place 5th overall. Jack’s first leg split was 45.21 (split time 21.55).That shattered his personal record of 47.59 (split time 23.22) set in November.
For the UANA Cup in the 15-17 division Kirby is ranked 1st in the 100 metre backstroke and 3rd in the 50 metre backstroke
50 metre backstroke
100 metre backstroke
Country man Weekes also had a big time drop in the breaststroke. Luis had a personal best of 2:06.46 in the 200 yard breaststroke set in Feb 2017 at the Southeastern Regional Championships . Weekes dropped more than 4 seconds to record a time of 2:02.17 (split time 58.94).That would qualify him for the C final .It would mark his first final at the top competition for 18 and under swimmers. He would just be off that time in the race placing 7th in a time of 2:02.57 (split time 59.08).
Link to race
Weekes is ranked 5th in the 100 metre breaststroke and 8th in the 50 metre breaststroke for the 15-17 age group for the UANA Cup