One of Jamaica’s Olympic aspirants Michael Gunning prepared to confirm a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a training camp in Australia . The camp which was from January 4 to February 10 in the Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games pool saw Michael putting in the work alongside stars of the British swim team . Those team members included defending Olympic Champion in the 100 metre breaststroke Adam Peaty, who also owns the world record in that event as well as the 50 metre breaststroke, Luke Green bank , member of the 2019 World Championships Gold medal medley relay team and bronze medallist in the 200 metre backstroke, and 2015 Commonwealth Youth Champion Edward Baxter.
Adam Peaty’s coach Melanie Marshall, a former top international swimmer had control of Michael’s sessions and had this to say about his performance at the camp.
“Michael’s a pleasure to work with day in, day out and brings the ray of sunshine to every single session. Him and all the team are working extremely hard out here on camp in Australia and as we head into the final phase of training before the British Olympic Trials in April, everything is on track.Michael will target this meet too but has his eyes set on a few international competitions – Mare Nostrum Series and the Sette Colli Rome International – where he can also smash up the qualifying time to hopefully earn his Olympic spot. Everyone here at British Swimming are so proud of Michael”s journey so far and we’ll all rooting for him this Summer and I’m sure he will do Jamaica proud”.
Gunning is the national record holder in the 200 metre butterfly and the 200 metre freestyle with times of 1:59.83 and 1:50.00.
The Tokyo B standards for those events are 1:50.23 and 1:59.97.
His aim will be to go after the A standards of 1:47.02 and 1:56.48.
Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Gunning and how he feels about the upcoming Olympic season
“I am feeling the best I have ever felt .I’m excited to see what this year brings in the pool”
He will be aiming to make a statement at the British Swimming Championships 2020 which will take place at the London Aquatics Centre in London from 14 – 19 April 2020.
Jamaican swimming legend Alia Atkinson continued her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics with more medals at the Beijing leg of the 2020 FINA Champions Series.
In the 100 metre breaststroke on January 19 Alia ended her own “Silk Road” journey with Bronze with a time of 1:08.88.The swim earned her USD 6000.00. The effort also represents the fourth fastest time by the Olympian at this time of the season. The Gold stayed at home with local standout Olympian Yu Jingyao taking the win in 1:07.18. Italian Olympian Martina Carraro won the Silver in 1:07.25.
TEST AND ADJUST
The first day of the two day meet on January 18 saw Alia recording her fastest time ever in January of 30.44. This represented a significant time drop from the last leg in Shenzhen where she stopped the clock in 30.63. Commander Atkinson continues to sharpen her skills as she keeps her eyes on the target of a podium place at the Tokyo Olympics. She was out touched at the wall by a fast charging US Olympian Molly Hannis who registered a time of 30.34. Carraro took the Bronze in 30.79.
The Caribbean superstar is the only swimmer, male or female from the region to have won medals in the event in both the long course and short course World Championships. She has one Long course Silver from the 2015 Kazan Championships when she set the current national mark of 30.11. She also has four medals in the 25 metre pool .Three Silver (2012,2014 and 2016) .She won the Gold at the 2018 Championships in Hangzhou. She is also the World record holder for the 25 metre course with a time of 28.56. No other Caribbean swimmer has ever set a World Record in the 50 metre breaststroke event, Atkinson has done it twice.
Alia ended the series with prize money earnings of USD 26,000.
Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson will be leaving the Chinese city of Shenzhen USD 12000.00 richer. Earlier today she won yet another Bronze medal at the FINA Champions Series .This time it was in the 100 metre breaststroke in a time of 1:08.15.That earned her another USD 6000.00.
Italian Martina Carraro took the double as she won the event in a time of 1:06.85.Hometown swimmer Yu Jingyao took the Silver in 1:07.59.
Atkinson continues to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with her third fastest time ever done in January. In 2016 She had swum times of 1:07.38 and 1:07.47 at the Austin leg of the US based TYR Pro series.
Atkinson’s efforts today places her 13th in the global standings for the race.
The swimming icon will next be in action from Jan 18-19 in Beijing at the Ying Dong Swimming Natatorium , the site of swimming for the 2008 Olympic Games. She will again contest the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke events.
Olympian Alia Atkinson won Bronze earlier today at the Shenzhen leg of the FINA Champions Series. Competing in the 50 metre breaststroke Atkinson finished third in a time of 30.63 and won USD 6000. Gold went to Italian Olympian Martina Carraro in 30.38 earning herself USD 10,000. The Silver was won by the American Olympian Molly Hannis in 30.49, she netted for herself USD 8000.00. Those top three finishes represent the new Global top three swims for the season.
This is the fastest Atkinson has swum in January. Her previous best at this stage of the season was 32.73 in 2012. In that season she had her highest Olympic placing of fourth at the London Games. This 2019/2020 is one first for her and the region as she is the only female swimmer from the Caribbean invited to compete in this Series.
She was also the only female swimmer invited to compete on a team in the debut season of the International Swimming League for Team Iron.
The meet continues tomorrow with Alia competing in the 100 metre breaststroke. She will battle Carraro again as well as 2016 Olympian Canadian Sydney Pickrem and hometown talent Yu Jingyao.
Before 2019 became history Aruban Patrick Groters was making his own for Aruba and himself. Competing at the US Open in December Patrick lowered the national record in the 200 individual medley. He crushed the old standard of 2:03.33 set during the preliminaries of the 2019 Pan AM Games in Peru to take it down to 2:01.62 on Dec 5.He set that time during the morning heats of the meet bettering the 2020 Tokyo Olympic B standard of 2:03.26. That historic swim would earn him a second swim in the B final where he would again be much better than the B standard placing sixth in a time of 2:01.84.
The meet which was held at the McAuley Natatorium , home of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games sees Patrick as fourth on the all time rankings of the best from the CARIFTA region in the event.
George Bovell III
Trinidad and Tobago
Patrick is being guided on his road to Tokyo by his older brother Jordy. Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Jordy after the competition and got his thoughts about Patrick’s progression since the PAN American Games in August
“During the taper Patrick was definitely swimming very confidently and doing some pretty good times. Swimming the same race seemed very reasonable. During the race, however, the splits he did were faster than what we had trained for. The butterfly was right on what he needed to be. The 29.9 backstroke and 35.4 breaststroke were absolutely unreal. We had trained to for 30-mids in backstroke and 36 in breaststroke. The freestyle was the only let down of the race, being the only split that was slower than his race at Pan AMs by about half a second. We tried to improve that freestyle in Finals and it was even more obvious in that race how crucial a good closing leg is. Patrick swam in between Will Licon (2019 US PAN AM Games Gold medallist in the 200 IM) and Caeleb Dressel (2016 Olympic Gold medallist,2019 50 metre freestyle World Champion) in the B final and was ahead of Dressel and right behind Licon at the 150. Dressel’s monster freestyle leg almost won him the race, touching only 0.01 behind Licon. Patrick touched two seconds after them despite being “in the race” at the 150. To be fair, Patrick’s freestyle was a bit faster than the morning but he wasn’t under 30 seconds like he was at Pan AMs. Considering how much of the other splits he improved from Pan AMs, he could’ve been 29 low or maybe even 28 high. Had he done that then he could’ve even been 2:00“.
PAN AM Games
Jordy also spoke about the way forward
“Regardless of all these hypotheticals, I was beyond ecstatic with the result. Another giant time drop so close to the last one is a huge confidence booster and a great sign for the coming months. There’s still about 6 months to go before the Olympic qualification window is closed. Six months to work on the back-half and make sure he can race the likes of Dressel and Licon until the end! I believe six months is more than enough time to make another 200 IM improvement and even challenge the A standard. He’ll definitely be challenging the B standards in both Backstrokes, as well. Those events were a little off this meet but the mission was a success. We came here to get a B cut and he was well beneath it”.
The CARIFTA region has enjoyed success in this event. In 1984 Jamaican Andrew Phillips became the first person to make the Olympic final placing sixth in a then national record time of 2:05.60.
In 2008 in Beijing China Bradley Ally of Barbados was just .10 outside the Olympic Final with a semi-final effort of 1:59.53 finishing ninth overall. He had set the CARIFTA region’s fastest time ever with a swim of 1:58.57.
The crowning moment for this event was the Athens Bronze medal swim by Bovell in a time of 1:58.80.
The region is looking forward to seeing what the next few months will hold for Patrick as he looks to add to the Aruban and CARIFTA legacy at the Olympics.
At the 2019 US Open held in December Bahamian Laura Morley made a major move to Olympic qualification with a personal best and new national record and an Olympic B standard time in the 200 metre breaststroke .Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice. She stopped the clock in a new all time Bahamian best first in the heats in 2:27.83 in the heats and then later in the Championship final swam to a time of 2:28.38 .The Olympic B standard is 2:29.89. .Laura has now set the senior national record in the event 11 times.
Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Morley after the competition about competing as a professional swimmer.The last meet of her collegiate career was the NCAA Division I championships in March 2019.Morley ended her college tenure ended as the fourth fastest performer in Indiana school history in the 200 yards breaststroke with a time of 2:08.16. The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar gave her thoughts on how life is different as a professional swimmer compared to college in terms of training and other areas.
“Thankfully Indiana Swimming allowed me to join the professional team after I graduated in May, so I still get to train with the collegiate team but now without school I have a lot more time to focus on recovery, nutrition and swimming as a whole. The transition has been made a lot easier than I expected and a lot of that is due to having the full support of my coaching staff, weight coaches and former teammates. Becoming a pro swimmer has been such an awesome experience because I can truly focus on my swimming goals and have learnt so much about myself since March”.
She also spoke smashing her 200 metre breaststroke national mark and getting the Olympic B cut, training and her preparations and expectations before the US Open.
“I was rested and shaved for US Open! I recently swam at the TYR Pro Series meet in Greensboro the weekend of November 9th and swam right on my best times. That was very reassuring and gave me a lot of confidence in my training all fall. We have been putting in a lot of hard training since I got back to Bloomington in September, so getting some rest at US Open was an opportunity for me to see where my hard training has taken me. I have been working towards getting the B cut in the 200 breaststroke but that was not the expectation heading into US Open. We wanted to take the great racing opportunity at US Open to give me some great racing practice against higher level competition than I was used to.”
Laura bettered the Olympic B standard twice .She crushed the national standard from the heats 2:27.83 compared to 2:30.24.Her first 50 was very aggressive compared to her last national record 33.88 to 35.27 and her third 50 as well 37.65 versus 38.65.
200 metre breaststroke
Pan Am Games
Laura gave her insight if the race strategy to attack those two 50’s specifically and if she was very confident in her training to take it out so fast?
“Yes, I was in a very competitive heat in the morning and knew that the girls next to me would throw down some good times, so I took that opportunity to go out and race them. I did take it out more aggressively than normal, but still very control so I could have some speed on the back half of the race. We have been working a lot on 200 pace long course so I had confidence in my training and race strategy”.
Laura is easily the number two all time in the event for the CARIFTA region. The A cut is 2:25.52 and Olympian Alia Atkinson tops the all-time CARIFTA ranking with her national record 2:25.48. The Nassau native is currently faster than the best CARIFTA time posted at the Olympics Atkinson’s then national record of 2:28.77 at the London 2012 Olympic Games .
She is also faster than the CCCAN best time at the Olympics of 2:28.10 by Adriana Marmolejo which was the then national record for Mexico.
Morley spoke about her next outing and if she had any specific times in mind?
“I am competing at the Knoxville TYR Pro Series meet in January but will be training through that meet and using as racing practice. I do not have any specific times in mind but just want to get more comfortable with my race strategy and racing in competitive heats. I am heading into another hard training block for a few months until I rest again sometime in the spring”.
In the 100 breast Morley was just off her best time of 1:10.44. She took us through that race and what adjustments she would need to make to go after the B cut of 1:09.08.
100 metre breaststroke
“This fall we have been focusing on the 200 more so than the 100, but using the 100 as good practice for the 200. I was pleased with my morning swim of the 100 as it was just off my best time, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the 200. I have been working on getting my strength and speed up for the 100, but it is still a work in progress! The B cut in the 100 is a great goal to keep in mind!”
At the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart, Florida on Nov 11 Jamaica was represented by 2019 World Junior Championships representatives Emily MacDonald of the Bolles School and Cameron Brown of the University School.
Emily’s Bolles School won the State Championship for the girls for the 29th consecutive year. In the 400 yard freestyle relay the Grade 11 student along with her teammates created history to lower the school standard en route to Gold in the relay.
who was drafted into the final for her first ever swim on this relay at States
made the best use of it with a big personal best. She led off the relay in a
time of 50.81, beating her lifetime best by almost a second. That gave the
Bulldogs a lead that they would not relinquish to hold off the Saint Andrews
team in a new school record of 3:23.18 to the Scots 3:24.00. The last time a Jamaican was
on the podium was through Annabella Lyn and her Pine Crest team in 2017 when
they won Silver in 3:27.02.
The old 1A Champs best was set in 2014. The 2019 winning time now stands as the fastest time ever done at the 1A championships.
MacDonald is just outside the top five fastest Jamaican women of all time in the 100 yard freestyle.
The time also has Bolles as the fastest team in Florida when compared to the other teams in 2A, 3A and 4A.
In the 200 yard medley relay the 2018 team repeated the Gold medal performance with a change in legs to produce a faster time in 2019.This time Emily and Sasha Ramey switched freestyle and butterfly legs. The result saw Emily producing the first butterfly sub 25 second split since 2017 at States. Their winning time of 1:43.43 is the fastest Gold medal performance since 2015.
In the 200 yard freestyle relay MacDonald now has a complete set of medals. In 2017 she won the Bronze with her team touching in 1:35.67. In 2018 they were in the runner up spot stopping the clock in 1:34.39. This time they had no equal at the meet or in Florida as they record a time of 1:33.61 to take the Gold . The time is the second fastest time ever recorded at the 1A state Championships . Only the 2013 Bolles team with their school record of 1:32.74 has been faster.
morning heats Emily recorded her first sub 23 seconds relay split of 22.94 to
push the team to the number one seed for the final with a time of 1:35.37.
In the 50 yard freestyle the Pan Am Games B finalist recorded a personal best in the heats of 23.43. In the final she recorded the second fastest time of her career to place fourth in 23.53. She has steadily improved at the State championships with an 8th place finish in 2017 with a time of 23.97, then finishing 5th in 2017 with a swim of 23.68. MacDonald is now tied with Shaun Johnson on the list of the fastest Jamaican woman of all time. The list is again headed by Natasha Moodie with her blast from the 2011 NCAA Division I champs.
Cameron Brown, who has been Jamaica’s best age group breaststroker for a number
of years, recorded his best time in the 100 yard event at the State Champs in
the heats with a swim of 59.45. In the final Brown recorded his highest ever
placing punching in a time of 59.64. That bettered his best showing of 7th
in 2017 in 1:00.08.
200 medley and freestyle relay Brown recorded his best splits at the State
championships for his best ever relay showing.
200 yard medley relay he was timed at 27.49 that helped University School hold
off Saint Andrews 1:40.11 to 1:40.32 to top the B final. Last year the team was
5th in 1:42.80. His breaststroke leg was the fastest of the B
200 yard freestyle relay Brown’s team were the victors in the B final with a
time of 1:29.45. Cameron’s second leg was 22.01. This is major improvement from
2018 when the team placed 8th in the B final with a total effort of
Bolles topped the girls field amassing 489 points, Saint Andrews was second
with 280 and PK Yonge third with a total of 152.5.
On the boys side University School was 13th with 63 points. The winners were Bolles with 337 points, Second Episcopal(Jacksonville) 209.5 and Berkeley Prep with 169.