Lynval Lowe , coach of Jamaican Britney Williams is confident of her successfully defending her 15-17 200 metre freestyle title in Barbados in April.
Lowe,the head coach of Swimaz Aquatics expressed this sentiment after his charge swimming for Wolmer’s Girls set the meet record twice in that event at the 2019 ASAJ High school & Tertiary Championships held Feb 8 -9. Williams recorded times of 2:14.95 in the heats then a season best of 2:13.10.Currently seeded second in the rankings Williams is a big meet performer and will use the Walter Rogers Age Group championships which the last local qualifier to gain pole position.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Coach Lowe he said ” Britney is really working hard. At the last meet she trained in the morning then she represented her school in the afternoon and did a season best of 2:13.10. We are looking to lower that time to 2:08 or 2:09 by Age Group championships.Her winning time at CARIFTA last year was 2:10.We are looking at 2:08 or 2:07 which will make her very competitive and would enable her to defend her 200 metre freestyle title.Right now she is in good shape and so far so good and we will continue the work and we expect to do very well at the age group championships coming up at the end of the month”.
Britney will be looking to be the first 15-17 female swimmer to defend the title since CARIFTA great and record holder in the event Joanna Evans of The Bahamas did so in 2015 in Barbados with the existing record 2:03.00. She took the title in 2014 in 2:05.52 outside of the then record of 2:03.72 of the legendary Janelle Atkinson of Jamaica.
The pool swimming segment of the CARIFTA Championships will be held from April 19 to 23.Championships is an approved qualifying meet for the 18th FINA World Championships 2019 – Gwangju, Korea, the Pan American Games 2019 – Lima, Peru and the XXXII Olympiad 2020 – Tokyo, Japan
Alex Sobers of Barbados continues to add to his swimming legacy with another five star performance for the Emmanuel College Lions at the 2019 Conference Carolinas Men’s Swimming Championship at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte,North Carolina. Sobers laid waste to all his personal bests and conference records in every single event that he contested.
The opening battle in the 200 yard medley relay saw the Lions disqualified. With a moniker such as Lions the team from Franklin Springs would not be deterred or bowed and swam a time trial in the event . And what time trial it was as the Lions shattered the school record , the Carolinas record and recorded the eighth fastest time in the NCAA Division II so far.
The previous school and conference records previously stood at 1:30.43 in 2017 and 1:30.08 by the 2018 Limstone College team.
Sobers denied a Gold medal with the disqualification would certainly make up for it with his performances in his remaining events.
Coming to the Conference Championships Alex was the holder of the 500 yard freestyle mark with a time of 4:27.56 set in 2017. The 2018 conference record belonged to Robert Zamarano of Barton who had stopped the clock in 4:42.09. Both marks were swept away with disdain in Sobers’ preliminary swim as he touched in 4:22.74. Now already the best his school and the conference had ever seen in the event the final served to be a coronation ceremony as he lowered that time to win by over 20 seconds and record a time of 4:19.41 , the fastest time currently in Division II . The Division II record of 4:17.09 held by Dutch Olympian Dion Dreesens while competing for Queens University of Charlotte can officially be put on notice.
Comparison of Personal best splits
Sobers is now the fastest ever English speaking Caribbean and CARIFTA region swimmer in the event bettering the 4:25.03 set by countryman and Olympian Damian Alleyne in Nov 1999. Alleyne set that time as 16 year old swimming for the world renowned Bolles school in Jacksonville Florida . He still holds the Bolles record for the 15-16 age group .He set that time at the 1999 4A state when it was a then record performance.The girls record is held by Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson . The record board also includes names such as US Olympic gold medallist Caleb Dressel.
Top times from the Region
The Lions would roar to an emphatic win of more than five seconds in the 400 yard medley relay. Falling by the wayside was the school record of 3:18.77 and the Carolinas conference record of 3:17.84
Sobers had the fastest time of the relay that bettered his 43.68 when he was the anchor on the team that set the school record in 2017. It also puts the Lions as the 16th fastest team in Division II.
In the 200 yard freestyle relay the same quartet put up a gold medal winning time of 1:21.53 . That places them 16th in Divison II and broke the Conference record.
The 200 yard freestyle saw the 2018 Carolinas record of 1:40.43 set by Saint Leo ‘s Fridtojov Mork taken down in the heats when Sobers touched in a time of 1:37.94. He crowned himself King and the best the conference has ever since when he set a new PB, School record and conference record of 1:35.32 (split time 46.41). That ranks him as the second fastest in Division II.He crushed the field by more than five seconds.
In the 100 yard freestyle he again took down the Conference record in the heats with a swim of 44.25. The old record belonged to Mork of Saint Leo with a time of 45.06.The final saw the Lions going 1-2 as Sobers recorded his first sub 44 seconds clocking of 43.65 (split time 20.86).Silver went to teammate Rose in 44.01. Sobers bettered his PBof 44.20 and Rosa’s school record of 44.00.The swim places Sobers ninth overall in the Division.
Sobers and his teammates capped the meet with yet another school and conference record in the 400 yard freestyle relay and a winning margin of almost ten seconds.They stopped the clock in a time of 2:57.90
The old school and conference records stood at 2:58.24 and 3:00.34.
For his tremendous efforts Sobers was named Carolinas Co -swimmer of the Year along with his teammate Joao Santos. The Lions finished second to Barton College amassing 732 points.
Sobers continues to raise the bar for his country with record breaking exploits. In December draftingthecaribbean spoke with Damian Alleyne, a leader in the freestyle events in his time from the late 90’s to early 2000’s, after Sobers lowered his national record in the 200 metre freestyle at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in in China from 1:48.98 to 1:47.55. Alleyne belonged to a Golden era of male swimming in Barbados that included such names asNicky Neckles, Bradley Ally, Cliff Gittens, Martyn Forde, Shawn Clarke,Andrei Cross among others. We spoke to Alleyne about his record breaking swim in 2001 and what what Alex’s swim in China meant in the context of swimming in Barbados moving forward
” To be honest, I don’t remember the exact details of my swim, I believe I was home for SC Nationals at Christmas and managed to squeeze that time out. As far as what Alex has accomplished, I believe it shows a positive progression for the sport of swimming in Barbados and the Caribbean. I am very proud of Alex and what he has been able to accomplish in his swimming career and I can’t wait to see what more he can achieve! I always had the mindset that I wanted to set the bar for swimming in Barbados. I wanted to make sure that bar was so high that the next swimmer to come along and challenge it would be a legitimate, world class, athlete and Alex has displayed this. I wish him all the best in any future endeavors and can’t wait to see how much further he takes the sport for the next generation to aspire to”.
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
Day Four of the CCCAN Swimming championships saw Team Jamaica adding Four more medals to their tally One Gold , One Silver and Two Silver to have Eighteen medals Six Gold ,Four Silver and Eight Bronze medals.
Getting the Gold for the land of wood and water was Emily MacDonald in the girls 13-14 100 metre freestyle. She bounced back from illness on Day Three to win the freestyle title.
In the Championship final she recorded the only sub 28 seconds split at the halfway mark and then pulled away from the field to record a new personal best and CCCAN meet record of 57.95. It was also the fastest 100 metre freestyle time recorded by a girl at the Championship.
That lowered the the more than three decades old standard of 58.34 byCosta Rican Olympic Gold medallist Claudia Poll (1996,2000 and 2004). MacDonald also is closing in on the national age group record of 57.54 held by Olympian Janelle Atkinson (2000,2004). It was Poll who held off Atkinson to win the Bronze in the 400 metre freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Games . That fourth place position at the Olympics is the joint highest placing at the Games along with Alia Atkinson’s fourth place at the 2012 London Games.
Winning the Silver was Bermuda’s Logan Watson-Brown in 58.82 and the Bronze to Colombia’s Manuela Libreros Bolivar 1:01.38.
It also marked the regional Golden Double as she captured the same title at the CARIFTA Games in her hometown of Kingston in April . It marked the second time she is completing the double after doing so in the 11-12 age group in 2016
Regional record for the 100 metre freestyle
1:02.02 split 29.40
1:00.26 split 29.18
59.28 split 28.33
58.83 split 27.89
57.99 split 28.17
57.95 split 27.79
Emily spoke to draftingthecaribbean about her performance after the race
“Going the 100 I was a bit nervous at first. The meet has not been great so far .In my 200 metre freestyle I got a cramp in my leg and ended up doing a bad time as I added 5 seconds to my personal best and I did not swim the Championship final of the 50 metre butterfly because of that injury and the 100 metre butterfly was not a good race overall.so going into this race I was very nervous as I did not know how I was going to perform because I had not done well so far but I was just going to try my best. That was my mindset heading into the final.I told myself I prepared for this meet and I have trained so hard for this and it does not make sense not swim my heart out. Going into the heats said I am going to just try and hopefully come in the top 8 fand hopefully seed first for the final. That is what I did and ended up doing a 58.70 .Going into the final I was going up again Logan Watson-Brown from Bermuda who I know is a great swimmer and I was even more nervous.I knew I wanted to get a Gold medal but was still not sure because of how I was performing. Before I stepped on the blocks I knew I had done all that I can to get this far and I know that I have done all I could possibly do to achieve a best time in this race so I was going to do what my coach told me to do which was best time.As I swam the race I remembered doing the splits in training and swimming the first 50 in a particular time and pushing hard on the last 25 metres into the wall which I did and recorded a personal best which I am very happy about and I got the Gold medal that I wanted”.
In the Boys 15-17 50 metre breaststroke Cameron Brown ended a decade old medal drought for Team Jamaica when he secured the Silver in a new personal best of 30.23. He tied Brandon Cheong for the medal while the Gold was won by The Bahamas Tyler Russell in 30.16. The last time Jamaica got a medal in the 15-17 age group in this event was in 2007 in El Salvador when age group star Brad Hamilton won Silver in 30.59.
Cameron gave his thoughts to draftingthecaribbean about the swim
“I knew it was going to be straight line line heading to the wall.I pushed to the very last second.I was suprised to see a new PB of 30.23 when I looked at the scoreboard”.
11-12 dynamo Morgan Cogle secured more precious metal at the Championship .She lowered her 100 metre freestyle from 1:03.11 to 1:02.59 to secure Bronze.The title went to Jillian Crooks of the Cayman Islands in a time of 1:01.72 and the Silver to Gabrielle Vickles of Trinidad and Tobago in 1:02.33.
In the 200 metre individual medley she ended a more than decade old drought when she won Bronze in 2:37.44.That medal winning swim puts her within sight of the age group record of 2:36.26 set by Annabella Lyn in 2012. Gold was won by the another 11-12 standout Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago in 2:32.91 and Silver to Crooks in 2:36.70.
Bronze was won by the 15-17 800 metre freestyle relay team of Annabella Lyn ,Gabrianna Banks, Bryanna Renuart and Naomi Eaton who stopped the clock in 9:07.22. Gold went to Aruba in 8:48.55 and the Silver to Honduras in 8:59.65.
The personal best tally moved from 28 to 47 at the end of Day Four
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)