Friday July 21 at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean saw three of the CARIFTA region’s biggest stars Olympians Joanna Evans of The Bahamas , Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago and Alia Atkinson of Jamaica win Gold in Games Record times.
The historic Gold Rush was started by Evans in the 400 metre freestyle.She easily qualified for the Championship final with a time of 4:16.63 . Her medal final saw her putting on masterclass on how to swim the event.The race was effectively over as a contest when Joanna took out the first 50 metres in 28.80. At the 100 metre mark when she split 59.59 the question on everyone’s mind was how much she would lower the 2010 Games record of 4:11.36 Venezuelan Olympian Adreina Pinto. With a final 50 metres of 31.61 she would just get by the record with a time of 4:11.15. With her win she becomes only the Second woman from the CARIFTA region to win Gold in the event following Suriname’s Carolyn Adel victory in 1998. Evans also upgrades her Silver medal from 2014 to Gold and moves from a tie with Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson as the best placed English speaking swimmer in the event. She also joins Mexican Maria Souza as the only women to have won Silver and Gold in the event. Souza took Silver in 1959 before going on to win Gold in 1962 in Kingston Jamaica.
Silver went to Mexico’s Allyson Macias Alba in 4:14.74 and the Bronze to Costa Rica’s Helena Moreno Hernandez in 4:15.51
Carter ensured the CARIFTA Golden streak with his own historic swim .After making the final as the second seed with a time of 49.24 . It would be time to bring SHOWTIME to Barranquilla Colombia Team TTO style. When the gun started it be another CARIFTA region star that would take out the first 50 metres as Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe split 23.03. However Carter split 23.29 worked his underwaters and when he popped up it was SHOWTIME . He came home in the second fastest 50 metres of 25.66 to take the Gold in a new Games Record of 48.95 , the first CAC Games swimmer under 49 seconds. That bettered the 2014 Games record of 49.00 held by Cuban Olympian Hanser Garcia. With his record swim he became the first Man to win the 100 metre freestyle crown from the CARIFTA region as the previous best placing had been Silver medals won by countryman Olympian Mark Andrews in 1986 and Cayman Islands Olympian Shaune Fraser in 2006. Team TTO now has a complete set of medal in the events rounded out by Olympic medal winner George Bovell III’s Bronze in 2006. Silver went Aruban Olympian Mikel Schreuders in yet another national record time of 49.17 , the first medal ever for Aruba in the event. Bronze went to Jorge Andres Iga Cesar in 49.28. Tjon A Joe placed fifth in a time of 49.38 and Barbados Olympian Alex Sobers eighth in a personal best time of 50.51. Both swimmers were just off their respective national records of 49.29 and 50.40. Carter spoke about this journey to 100 metre freestyle Gold to TEAM TTO
Anchoring this Golden run on the opening day of the CAC Games was Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson . After bettering her old Games record of 1:10.24 in the morning heats she was the second seed with a 1:08.00. Also under the record was Byanca Rodriquez Villanuev who just edged Alia with a time of 1:07.99.The two ladies swam in the last of the morning heats side by side.Rodriquez Villanuev had gained the early advantage then with a split of 31.28 to Atkinson’s 31.32. So the setting was clear for the final as it would be between Byanca and Alia. In the Championship final there would be no synchronized swimming as Alia got her customary bullet start and gave the field too much to handle with a split of 30.85. After an excellent pullout she also turned in the best last 50 metre of 35.98 to ensure that the CAC Games record remained in Jamaica with a final time of 1:06.83.
With the that win she breaks the tie with Mexico’s Silvia Rivero who won the titles in 1982 and 1986 as she now has crowned herself Queen on three occasions 2006, 2010 and now 2018. Atkinson is also the 11th fastest woman in the world with that swim.She is still the only woman from the CARIFTA region to medal in the event. Silver went to Rodriquez Villanuev in 1:07.80 and her countrywoman Esther Gonzalez Medina in 1:10.60. The deep talent pool spread across the region was evident at The Bahamas duo of Lilly Higgs 1:11.32 and Laura Morley 1:12.34 placed fifth and sixth respectively in the Championship final