There were doubts about how well Jamaica’s Emily MacDonald would do in the 200 metre freestyle as she was known in the region for sprinting exploits in the 11-12 age group .Her record underlined her sprint credentials 2016 CARIFTA Gold in the 50 and 100 free, Silver in the 100 freestyle last year. She had never made a Championship final in the 200 metre freestyle before now.
On April 1 her PB stood at 2:14.70 and she crushed that to post the top time of 2:10.81 and claim the number one seed and Lane 4.Still doubt remained ,as surely the Championship final would be different as questions would be asked of her sprint endurance over the last 100 metres. When the starter’s gun fired as expected it was MacDonald that surged to the front taking the early lead with the a split of 1:02.82 . She flipped and proceeded on the last 100 metres and persons awaited waning speed despite smooth and controlled swimming. They waited and waited. The only thing changing was the distance between Emily and the field .On the final turn she brought in her legs and changed gears and powered to the wall crushing her personal best and the 2009 CARIFTA record of Kimberlee John Williams of 2:09.51 to register a time 2:08.70 , the fastest time by a 13-14 girl at the CARIFTA Championships.
Silver went to Logan Watson-Brown of Bermuda in 2:10.60 and the Bronze to Audrey Moore of the US Virgin Islands in 2:12.23.
With expectations of her endurance firmly changed she is now closing in on a steady bearing on the national record of fellow Bolles alumna CARIFTA legend Olympian Janelle Atkinson (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) of 2:05.07 set way back on Dec 5,1997
Olympian Joanna Evans (Rio 2016) continued to make history for herself, The Bahamas and the CARIFTA and CCCAN regions with historic medal winning performances at the Summer Universiade in Taipei Taiwan this past August.
Before this year’s competition the last medal won in swimming from the CCCAN region had come from countryman Jeremy Knowles with his historic 200 metre butterfly Bronze medal winning performance in 1:59.21 at the 2003 Daegu South Korea Games .Jeremy was the first and only swimmer from the CARIFTA region to win medal at the Championships.
That all changed on August 25, 2017 at the Taiwan Sports University Arena when Evans touched the wall in a new National record of 8:31.18 to win the Bronze medal. That time lowered her previous record of 8:32.18 set at 2016 The Bahamas Nationals before her debut performance at the Rio Olympics. That medal win broke a 14 year medal drought for the CARIFTA and CCCAN regions. She also put more distance between herself and the other swimmers as she was already the fastest ever swimmer from a CARIFTA or CCCAN nation.
Analysis of Joanna’s top 800 metre freestyle swims
Date and venue
Atlanta May 2017
WUGs Aug 25
Gold went to Simona Quadarella of Italy in 8:20.54 and the Silver was won by Sarah Koehler of Germany in 8:21.67
Evans had given a hint before of what was to come when she lowered her national record in the 200 metre freestyle to 1:59.19 to make the Championship final. That record swim solidified her position as the fastest CARIFTA swimmer in the event as she had passed the previous CARIFTA best of 2:01.11 by Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) at the Atlanta Pro Swim Series meet on May 6. At that meet she had performances of 2:00.37 and 1:59.91. In the final on August 25 she placed 8th in a time of 2:00.70 less than 30 minutes after winning Bronze in the gruelling 800 metre freestyle.
Analysis of Joanna’s top 200 metre freestyle swims
Date and venue
Olympics Aug 2016
Atlanta May 2017
Austin July 2017
WUGS Aug 24 2017
WUGs Aug 25
A day later of August 26 she would go one better on the medal podium when she won the Silver medal in the 400 metre freestyle with a time of 4:08.52.Gold went to Sarah Koehler in 4:03.96 and the Bronze to America’s Sierra Schmidt in 4:09.82.
With that performance Joanna became the FIRST and ONLY CARIFTA swimmer male or female to win TWO medals at the Championships, the ONLY CARIFTA swimmer male or female to win a SILVER medal. In the CCCAN region she became the FIRST and ONLY CCCAN woman to win TWO medals at the Championship, and the ONLY CCCAN woman to win a SILVER medal at the Championships.
She has also tied the Cuban Olympic duo of Rodolfo A. Falcón Cabrera (Barcelona 1992 ,Atlanta 1996 , Sydney 2000) and Neisser S. Bent Vázquez ( Atlanta 1996 , Sydney 2000) for Most Medals won at Two.
Rodolfo had won Gold in the 100 and 200 metre backstroke events in times of 55.60 and 1:59.90 at the 1993 Buffalo Games. Neisser won Gold and Silver in the same events at the 1997 Sicily Italy Games with performances of 55.82 and 2:00.37. Both would win Silver and Bronze respectively in the 100 metre backstroke at the 1996 Olympics
When Draftingthecaribbean spoke the region’s best distance freestyler she gave the following thoughts about her performances
“I was pleased with them. The times weren’t excellent but given the circumstances and line-up I was very happy”
The best in the region over the middle to long distance freestyle events also placed 23rd in the 100 metre freestyle 56.99 split time 27.87 just off her best time of 56.74. In her sights will be the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where the best CARIFTA region performance in her signature events are two Bronze medals.
Those medals were won by Jamaican Janelle Atkinson at the 2002 Manchester Games in the 400 (4:13.24) and 800 metre (8:36.18) freestyle races.
It would be hard not to see her medalling in those events with her form that consistently improves each season.
Olympian Janelle Atkinson (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) and many time National coach and former Technical Director Jacky Beckford- Henriques will be in charge of collegiate swimming programmes in North America for the 2017-2018 season.
Atkinson will be the head women’s swimming & diving coach for the Stony Brook. Janelle had previous coaching stints at Fairfield where she was Head coach for three years, University of Connecticut and Wright State University. Atkinson still holds senior national records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metre freestyle events as well as the 200 metre butterfly. In the 25 metre pool she holds the records in the 100,200,400 and 800 metre freestyle. When speaking to the Greene Gazette a production by students Gabrielle Topping and Joseph Topping participating in the Stony Brook University School of Journalism‘s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists Janelle spoke about the valuable lesson she learnt as a competitor that she would like to impart to her squad “For me, one of the biggest things is, always trying to teach my athletes about regret, not having regret “You come to practice every day and you make a conscious effort to show up today, to walk on the pool deck, that means that you’re committed to giving your all at practice and that’s what I like to teach them”.
Jacky was previously at McMaster University. She spent 3 years at the Marauders as the Associate coach. Beckford-Henriques was the Jamaican National Coach for 19 years and was a member of the coaching staff for the three Olympic Games Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Among her charges at the Warriors will be Trinidad and Tobago’s Jonathon Ramkissoon. On the Waterloo website Jacky spoke about how she felt about her appointment “It is a great honour to become the head coach of the Warriors, a very reputable and hard working group of swimmers I’ve got to know over my time at Mac. I’m excited to work with each student-athlete and gear up for a strong season in the pool”.
The duo feature among the list of Jamaicans in senior coaching positions in North America which include Olympians
Sion Brinn ( 1996 Atlanta) Head Coach of Indian River State College ( 5 years)
and Dawn Kane ( Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) Associate Head Coach Duke University (13 years)
The fourth day of competition at CCCAN Championships in Trinidad and Tobago saw Team Jamaica winning One Gold , Three Silver and One Bronze for an overall total of Seven Gold, Six Silver and Three Bronze. The Jamaican contingent was in ninth position with 232 points. The overall tally of personal bests now stands at 34. All the medals won on Day Four were in the 100 metre freestyle event. The Gold came from Emily MacDonald in the girls 13-14 race.
For the second straight summer Emily MacDonald has crowned herself regional Champion in the 100 metre freestyle. At the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in the 11-12 100 metre freestyle she struck Gold in a then national record of 1:00.26. One year later in the 13-14 age group she has won CCCAN title in a time of 58.83. In the process she also lowered her personal best of 59.20 that she established in the heats. This is the first medal for Jamaica in the event in over a decade. The longstanding 1997 record of 57.54 set by Olympian Janelle Atkinson has been put on notice as Emily still has a year and a half in the age group.
Emily’s 11-12 national record would not survive Day Four. The 11-12 final pitted the Bermudan star duo of Elan Daley and Payton Zelkin against Jamaican speedster Zaneta Alvaranga to see how the medals would be decided. After speaking with her coach about working the last half of her race Zaneta dug deep in the last 15 metres to challenge Daley for the Gold and win Silver in 1:00.24 in a new national age group record. Daley would win Gold in a new Bermudan record of 59.65. Zelkin would take the Bronze in 1:00.56. That is the same order that the medals were won at CARIFTA earlier this year. The last time Jamaica last won a medal in this event was 2013 when Anjuii Barrett won the Bronze.
Nathaniel Thomas added another medal to his haul when he won Silver in the boys 11-12 race. He lowered his personal best set in the morning of 59.04 to 58.37. The medal is a set up the podium from CARIFTA where he had won the Bronze medal. No Jamaican had won a medal in the event for more than a decade. Thomas is now less than a second away from the 2002 national record of 57.43 set by Brad Hamilton. The Gold was won by Bermuda’s Sam Williamson in 58.20.Bronze went to Gabriel Martinez of Honduras in 58.65.
Kelsie Campbell the only Jamaican female representative in the 18 and over at CCCAN Championships keeps adding to her personal medal account in Trinidad and Tobago. She won her fourth medal so far in the 100 metre freestyle stopping the clock in a time of 58.28. This is the first time Jamaica is medalling in the event since 2001 when Olympians Janelle Atkinson and Angela Chuck won Gold and Silver. Gold went Jumar Avila of Honduras in 57.79. Santis Gabriela of Guatemala won Bronze in 59.12.
In the boys 13-14 race Kyle Sinclair dipped below the 56 seconds barrier for the first time to set a new personal best of 55.77 and establish himself as the number one seed heading into the final. In the Championship final he had to over a bad start and work overtime in the last 25 metres to come from behind to win the Bronze in 55.04. This is a big improvement for Sinclair who had failed to make to the final at CARIFTA placing 11th in 57.43. It also breaks a decade long medal drought in the event. Also making up for a disappointing CARIFTA 2017 where he was disqualified in the event was Trinidad and Tobago’s Aqueel Joseph who won gold in 54.85. Kevon Lockhart of The Bahamas won the Silver in 54.97.
A 17 member Jamaican delegation will be in action in the swimming pool from the 28th of June to July 2 at the Aquatic Centre, Balmain, Couva in Trinidad. The Championship which membership comprises federations from the Central American and Caribbean region has seen a number of outstanding performances from Jamaican athletes. Seven existing records at the meet are held by swimmers from the land of wood and water.
Leading the record tally is Olympian Janelle Atkinson with three. She holds marks in the 18 and over 800 metre freestyle 8:39.16, 400 metre freestyle 4:13.11 and 200 metre freestyle 2:02.57. All of those Championship standards were set at the 2001 edition of the meet in the Dominican Republic where she won Six Gold, One Silver and One Bronze.
Olympian Alia Atkinson has two 15-17 records from the 2005 Championships still standing. As expected they are in the breaststroke events. In the 50 metre race it is 33.12 and the 100 metre breaststroke race 1:13.93.The meet was again held in the Dominican Republic. Alia won an impressive Seven Gold ,One Silver and one Bronze.
Yet another Olympian Timothy Wynter has two records in his favoured backstroke events at the 2011 Puerto Rico meet in the 13-14 age group. His 50 metre standard stands at 26.96 and his 200 metre record at 2:09.55.His medal haul would consist of Two Gold, Two Silver and a Bronze.
In 2017 the Jamaican team have 24 individual medal chances based upon the heat sheet.
In the 18 and over girls Kelsie Campbell has five good chances in the 50,100 and 200 metre freestyle events as well as the 50 metre butterfly races. In the 100 metre butterfly she is seeded first. Her time of 1:03.48 is in striking range of the Championship record of 1:03.18 by Puerto Rico’s Debra Rodriquez.
Next up for a potentially large medal haul are the 11-12 sprinters Nathaniel Thomas and Zaneta Alvaranga. Both are in medal winning positions based on their entry times in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle races and 50 and 100 metre butterfly events. In the 50 metre butterfly in which both swimmers are ranked number 1 they will be seeking to lower their respective national records of 28.32 for Thomas and 28.95 for Alvaranga. Zaneta’s best time is almost a full second faster than the championship record of 29.85 by Venezuela’s Ángela Ciccenia.
Other swimmers in medal contention and aiming to break national records are
Sabrina Lyn the 2017 CARIFTA Champion who will be looking to lower her mark of 1:07.22 in the 100 metre butterfly.
Brianna Anderson will be looking to break the girls 13-14 50 metre backstroke record of 31.02
Emily MacDonald will be looking to better her national mark of 1:06.19 in the 13-14 100 metre butterfly
Gabrianna Banks will be racing for the 13-14 record of 26.86
Bahamian Olympian Joanna Evans was in sparkling form for the University of Texas at the recently concluded BIG 12 Championships winning 4 Gold medals. The meet which was contested from February 22 to February 25 at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas saw the sophomore ascending to the top of the podium in the 800 yard freestyle relay and the 200, 500 and 1650 yard freestyle.
In the 800 yard freestyle relay the Longhorns won in a time of 7:00.70.That relay performance was the 6th fastest in the Texas history. The relay team of Madisyn Cox 1:45.09, Evans 1:44.27, Claire Adams 1:44.95 and Karosas Tasija 1:46.39 crushed the competition as they won by over 10 seconds. In 2016 Joanna swam on the B team for exhibition purposes only and split 1:45.92. Her 2017 split of 1:44.27 was the fastest split at the BIG 12’s since 2012.
That relay performance would be a precursor for her win in the 500 yard freestyle. She would repeat as the BIG 12 Champion in the event in a new Championship record adding to her crown won in her freshman year. That year she took the title in 4:39.97 and won by a margin just over 2 seconds. This year she won by almost 4 seconds in 4:36.97. Evans was faster over each 100 yards as seen in the splits below
With her victory a number of milestones were achieved. She bettered her personal best of 4:39.51 set in December 2016. She bettered the 2011 championship record of Olympian Camille Adams (2012, 2016) of Texas A& M of 4:37.81. Also lowered was the 1992 school record of 4:37.73 by Olympian Erika Hansen (1988,1992).Bettered as well was the CARIFTA region’s best time in the event at the collegiate level set in 2001 by Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson (2000 and 2004) when competing for the University of Florida. The Freeport native is now the region’s best in the 500 yard freestyle as 400 metre freestyle (50 metre pool).
The 200 yard freestyle saw her stepping up from the Silver to take the Gold in a time of 1:44.41.That bettered her personal best of 1:45.07 set in January. Evans was again faster on both 100’s from last year as seen below
Her last event of the competition saw her putting clear water between herself and the field and winning in a new personal best of 16:05.11.The winning margin was more than 15 seconds. Joanna had won the 2016 title in a time of 16:13.39.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Evans she spoke about her wins and the expectations heading into the Conference Championships
“So basically we hadn’t really tapered because NCAAs are right around the corner, so we had decided to take it one day at a time. I was most happy with my 500, that was a sweet time drop, but my other races were best times which you can never complain about”.
She also spoke about the mindset heading to the NCAA Division I Championships which will be held from March 15-18 at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana and the events she will be competing in
“I just want to lower my times from this meet and see how high it can take me. I’ll be in the 200, 500 and mile (1650 yard) freestyle events”.
With the publication of the psych sheet by the NCAA Joanna is ranked 8th in the 500 yard freestyle,18th in the 200 yard freestyle and 22nd in the 1650 yard freestyle.
She also elaborated on the team spirit heading into the Championships in Indiana
“Everyone is excited. This meet has definitely given everyone some momentum heading into the last couple weeks of the season”.
The Longhorns won the competition with 991 points.
On Saturday February 25 Auburn Junior Breanna Roman joined the elite ranks of Jamaican women who have qualified for the prestigious NCAA Division I Swimming Championships. That list includes Olympians Janelle Atkinson the University of Florida 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 )Dawn Kane (nee Chuck) Brown University 2002, Alia Atkinson Texas A& M 2007,2008, 2009 and 2010).
The Computer Science Major sealed her place when she swam 59.99 (split 28.23) to win the 100 metre breaststroke at the 2017 University of Georgia Last Chance Meet which was held from February 25 to 26 in Athens Georgia.
Breanna’s improvement can be tracked be from her qualification for her first SEC (Southeastern Championships which were held from February 14-18 in Knoxville Tennessee. At that meet she lowered her personal best in the heats of the 100 yard breaststroke moving from 1:01.57 to 1:00.95 (split time 28.65) qualifying for the B final. She would lower that further in evening’s final as she touched the wall in 1:00.84 (split time 28.59) for 2nd place. It was also well under the NCAA B time of 1:02.49. Breanna would set a season best in the 50 yard freestyle in a time 23.66 for 47th . In the 20 yard breaststroke she was just off her season best when she stopped the clock in a time of 2:17.27 (split time 1:04.68) for 36th . When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her on the following Monday she spoke about her achievement. Roman first elaborated on training up to her the SEC (Southeastern) Championships and the 100 yard breaststroke
“Training for the 100 yard breaststroke went well. Warmup was exactly how I had done it all season and in training. I was happy with the execution in the 100 yard breaststroke but not with the time”.
When she spoke about the 200 yard breaststroke she revealed she actually had picked up an injury
“I actually got a groin injury which made it really difficult to kick. I did not have a great swim but I was pleased that I gave everything to try to help my team”.
The 2016 CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) 18 and over girls champions in the 100 metre described the time period leading up the Last Chance meet
“After SECS it was about taking care of the injury and putting the pain behind me to prove to everyone I could make it. I was not happy with my performances in my freshman and sophomore years and knew I could better”
In Athens Georgia she would lower her personal best yet again in the heats with a time of 1:00.45 (split time 28.45). That ranked her as the fastest swimmer heading in to the A final. She described to draftingthecaribbean how she felt in that final
“In the final I felt great for the first 50 yards (split time 28.23 and over half a second ahead of the field). I felt numb in the last 50 yards. I felt all the pain hit me in the last 10 yards but just kept thinking I need to throw my arms forwards and I have to do it”.
When she touched the wall she had registered her first sub minute swim in the event of 59.99 and beat the field by more than .50 of a second. Breanna is the 2nd fastest Jamaican female at the NCAA level in the event behind Olympian Alia Atkinson’s 59.43 from the 2009 NCAA Division I Championships in College Station Texas. They are also the only two women to have dipped below the 1 minute mark in the event
When Breanna was asked about the improvement in her performances in her junior year she offered this explanation
“After not qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016 I started to reevaluate my life and started to focus on what made me happy . I also put a more positive approach to what I did in life and applied that to my training. I did not just train hard greater self-belief”.
At the Last Chance meet she would also crush her 200 yard breaststroke time taking almost 4 seconds off her previous best to record a time of 2:12.73 (split time 1:03.78).That time was also significantly under the NCAA Division I B time of 2:15.99.
When the NCAA released their heats sheet for the Championships Roman was ranked 26th.The cut off time for qualification in the event was 1:00.34.
The NCAA Division I Women’s Championships will take place from March 15-18 at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana.