Jamaica’s team to the the 2019 World Swimming Championships will consist of Olympian Alia Atkinson, Michael Gunning and making his debut at this Championship Keanan Dols. Keanan will be competing in the 100 metre butterfly and 200 metre individual medley events.††

Though Dols will be making his first splash at the Long Course World Championships he is no stranger to competing at the global level having swum at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Singapore and the 2016 World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada.

Keanan Dols at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

Keanan had been a standout swimmer for Jamaica at the in the junior ranks has been coming into his own in senior waters.

15-17 records
200 metre backstroke2:03.05
200 metre butterfly2:03.27
200 metre IM2:07.04
400 metre IM4:35.69

One indication of him making that transition was his performance at last year’s CAC (Central American and Caribbean Games) in Barranquilla Colombia. In the 100 metre butterfly he swam to new personal best to earn second place in the B final with a time of 54.74. That swim was not far off the 2015 national record held by Justin Plaschka.

Andrew Phillips Photo courtesy of

Earlier in the competition he lowered the 1984 national record of 2:05.63 Olympian Andrew Phillips when he placed fourth in the 200 individual medley ,his best senior level performance to date.

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Dols and asked him how competing at the 2015 World Junior Swimming championships and 2016 World Short Championships

” Those meets have prepared me for this summers world championships by providing experience in what it’s like at a major international meet racing against the best in the world. They provided experience with handling travel and ensuring that I’ve prepared myself well through recovery  “.

He also gave insight into big time drops at the CAC Games in 2018

” The time drops in my events last summer were a culmination of really the two years prior. The 2017 summer wasn’t my best and I didn’t see improvement in my times other than in the 200 IM. The improvements I saw in my fly events last summer were the result of an increased focus on training and racing butterfly after shifting slightly away from focusing on backstroke. The 200 IM improvements came from a massive improvement in my breaststroke split as well as a shift in race strategy. Breastroke is not my greatest stroke and in practice we’ve put a lot of emphasis on getting better at it to help out my IM races. My split this past summer was a 35.5 and in past years it’s been 37-38. For the race strategy I’ve learned I need to relax a bit more on the first 100 in order to finish the second 100 stronger. My first 100 last summer was a bit slower than it was even back in 2016 but the second hundred was almost 4 seconds faster. Putting up the times I did last summer was a great confidence boost. Getting my first worlds B time was one of my goals last summer and accomplishing that in the 200 IM was incredibly fulfilling. It shows me that I’m on the right track and that I’m doing the right things in and out of the pool in order to be successful”.

Keanan Dols

Keanan has made the decision to red shirt next season at the University of Pennsylvania in the NCAA Division I to focus on training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Dols spoke about his team and why it was a good move to achieve his goals

Keanan en route to Gold at the 2016 CISC

” I have been training in Gainesville, Florida with the University of Florida postgraduate group under Gregg Troy and Robert Pinter. Members of the group include American Olympic Gold medallists Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Lochte, Corey Main of New Zealand, Mitch D’Arrigo, Tom Peribonio of Ecuador, Alberto Mestre of Venezuela, Enzo Martinez Scarpe, True Sweetster and Colombian Santi Corredor. Everyone in the group has the goal of qualifying for the Olympics whether it be for the US, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, or Uruguay. I felt it was important to train in an environment with like minded individuals who are all high achieving and share similar goals. Swimming alongside such high achieving athletes allows me to compete against them every day at practice as well as learn from them and see what they do day in and day out that makes them great. Gregg Troy is one of the best in the world having worked with numerous Olympians throughout his career  including our very own Janelle Atkinson. The detail oriented environment that he creates combined with the effort you need to bring to practice every day is exactly what I need to be successful in the lead up to 2020″.


Kenzo Simons with his 50 metre freestyle Silver medal at the 2019 European Junior Championships today announced his arrival on the world stage with a major medal as well as a new Netherlands age group record in the event. Simons clocked a swift 22.10 to win Silver .

Kenzo Simons and father

In a race that show how fast the world of swimming has become saw German Artem Selim winning in 21.83 and the Bronze going to Vladyslav Bukhov of the Ukraine in 22.37. Simons had the advantage for most of the race before Selim pulled away for victory in a new European Junior record.

50 metre freestyle Championship race

Kenzo’s time would have won the Silver medal at the World Juniors at 2017 edition and Gold in 2015,2013 and 2011. No other swimmer from the region has ever gone faster than 22.50 in that age group.

In the history of CARIFTA region swimmers the top three rankings now includes Renzo Tjon A Joe of Suriname who blasted to 22.75 at the 2013 World Junior Championships en route to a Championship final. Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter would speed to 22.49 of the Youth Olympics the following year before winning Bronze in the Championship final with a time of 22.53

Renzo Tjon A Joe reacts to winning Gold in the 15-17 metre freestyle in 2013 Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn


Name50 free
Kenzo Simons22.10 (2019)
Dylan Carter22.49 (2014)
Renzo Tjon A Joe22.75 (2013)

This shows the vast improvement Simons has made since regional fans would have seen him last at the now defunct Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in 2016 when he won the Gold in the 13-14 age group in a time of 24.08 in a Championship record.Another top junior swimmer coming into his own now Jan Collazo of Puerto Rico won the Silver in 24.80 and Curacao’s Christopher Marlin the Bronze in 25.04.

Earlier at the 2016 CARIFTA championships earlier in Martinique Simons had set the 13-14 record of 24.49 before it was lowered by Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas in the Championship final.

CARIFTA 2016 Simons Silver 24.49,Bastian Gold 24.25, Berol Bronze 24.69.Photo courtesy of Carifta 2016 MARTINIQUE C

Simon’s Recent Regional Results

2016CISC50 free24.0814Gold
2016CISC50 back28.1614Silver
2016CARIFTA50 free24.4914Silver
2016CISC50 back28.7314Bronze
2014CARIFTA50 back32.4112Bronze
2014CARIFTA50 free27.58124th
2014CISC50 free28.19127th
2014CISC50 back31.4912Silver

Simons time has bypassed the ranks of junior swimmers to make him the second fastest of all time from the CARIFTA region

Goerge Bovell III Photo courtesy of
TTO21.202009George Bovell II
Neth/SUR22.102019Kenzo Simons
SUR22.182018Renzo Tjon A Joe
TTO22.392018Dylan Carter
BAH22.392009Elvis Burrow
CAY22.412011Brett Fraser
BER22.472012Roy Allan Burch
BAH22.751996Allan Murray
JAM22.772016 Justin Plaschka
TTO22.792017Joshua Romany
JAM22.832008Jevon Atkinson
FRA/Fren GUY22.862015Mehdy Metella

This fantastic effort makes Simons the second fastest 18 and under swimmer in the world behind Selim and the 15th fastest in the World .

He would also create more history by extending the distance between himself and the rest of the region’s age group swimmers in the 50 metre backstroke. Before 2018 the fastest time in the event was 25.99 by Carter. Simons had bettered that last year with a swim of 25.65 in the semi finals of this competition. This year he moved up from seventh to fourth with a new PB of 25.63

Start of the 2018 15-17 50 metre backstroke final from left to right Carey Silver medallist and Jack Kirby of Barbados Gold medallist Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn
Neth/SUR25.632019Kenzo Simons
TTO25.992013Dylan Carter
BAR26.072018Jack Kirby

In the 50 metre butterfly only Dylan Carter with his sub seconds blast of 23.81 to win the 2014 Youth Olympics Silver medal is faster than Kenzo from the region at the youth level.

Dylan Carter at the 2013 CARIFTA swimming championships Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn
TTO23.812014Dylan Carter
Neth/SUR24.282019Kenzo Simons
FRA/Fren Guy24.562010Mehdy Metella

In the 100 metre freestyle Simons is in the same company .He posted a huge PB of 49.71 in the heats of the mixed 400 metre freestyle relay .That was a massive time drop from his previous standard of 50.74. He would also be under the 50 seconds barrier in the Championship final with a swim of 49.92 as the Dutch team placed fifth in a time of 3:31.13.

Mehdy Metella Photo courtesy of Arena Water Instinct France and Stéphane Kempinaire
FRA/Fren Guy49.2523.552010Mehdy Metella
TTO49.5023.982014Dylan Carter
Neth/SUR49.7123.392019Kenzo Simons

Simons exploits should serve as motivation to the region’s youngsters about what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. Also that certain times are not above their abilities at the youth level


Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka continued to blaze a path for his countrymen to follow at his final NCAA Division I Championships in Minnesota on Friday May 23.

Justin Plaschka 2017 Texas and m
Justin Plaschka in action  Photo courtesy of

Already the only Jamaican man to qualify for the prestigious elite Championships in the 100 yard butterfly back in March 2016 he has now done it three times.Each time he has gone faster and placed higher. In the morning heats he produced his a time of 46.02 to place 23rd overall. Justin holds the school and Jamaican best time in yards at 45.41. He also owns the 100 metre butterfly standards in the 25 metre and Olympic sized pools at 52.31 and 54.71 respectively.

Date Time split Place
March 2018 46.02 21.28 23rd
March 2017 46.84 21.53 37th
March 2016 47.26 21.97 41st

Justin Plaschka und NCAA Division 1
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

In the 200 yard medley relay he had been flirting with the 20 seconds barrier for the butterfly leg since the 2017 NCAA Championships. Last year he recorded a split of 20.39. In the heats of the event he came close again with a split of 20.09 to help the Fighting Irish earn a B final berth with a total time of 1:25.17 .

Notre Dame swimming on Instagram
Justin Plaschka with his teammates on the 200 yard medley relay after the morning heats Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Swimming on Instagram

In that race he would break through with the fastest split of the B final in a time of 19.94. It was the third fastest time overall as only two swimmers in the Championship final produced faster times. The team finished 7th in a time of 1:25.21. It is the best relay position for the Jamaican as his teams in 2015 and 2017 placed 24th overall.

Date   TeamTime  butterfly split
March 2017 1:26.20 20.39
Jan 2018 1:27.40 20.87
Feb 2018 1:25.37 20.21
March 2018 1:25.17 heats 20.09
March 2018 1:25.21 19.94


The 2018 Atlantic Coast Championships came to a close on Feb 24 at the Greensboro Aquatics Centre, Greensboro North Carolina which saw Notre Dame’s star sprinter Justin Plaschka blazing to new all-time Jamaican standards in his final conference meet.

Plaschka, who was already Jamaica’s fastest swimmer of all time in the 25 yard pool, added a bit more shine to his crown. On the first day of competition Wed he gave a glimpse of his speed when he rocketed to the fastest butterfly in the 200 medley relay of 20.21.That propelled the Fighting Irish team to a news season best of 1:25.37 and an NCAA B time standard.

Notre dame graduating seniors
Justin Plaschka with members of the Notre Dame graduating class Photo courtesy of

In the 50 yard freestyle the senior bettered his season best time of 19.60 and made his third consecutive Championship final in the event. In the final he would blaze to new school record and Jamaica best time of 19.30. It also bettered the time standard of 19.43 to be invited to the NCAA Division I final.

Plaschka’s evolution of speed

Year Time split
2018 19.30 9.22
2017 19.38 9.32
2016 19.72 9.44
2015 20.12 9.65

His performance ranks as the second fastest collegiate performance of all time by a CARIFTA region swimmer

He would gain another automatic invitation to the Championships when the Notre Dame team placed fourth in the 200 yard freestyle relay in a season best of 1:17.61. That just under cut the A standard of 1:17.62.

Notre Dame tribute to Justin 2016 World
University of Notre Dame tribute to Justin Plaschka for setting the Jamaican at the 2016 World Short Course Swim Championships Photo courtesy of

In the 100 yard butterfly Justin was just off his season best of 46.84 when he stopped the clock in 46.92. It earned him a second swim in the C final. Knowing he was in a different class than the field he was to race  he demonstrated that from the firing of the starter’s gun.He blitzed the field with an opening leg of 20.97, an advantage of more than a half a second. With the field defeated it would be a question of what time he would post. He did not disappoint as he registered his first sub 46 seconds swim touching in 45.41.A swim that would have earned the Bronze medal. It blew away his school record and Jamaica best of 46.05 and also went under the  2017 NCAA invitation time of 46.10.

Shaune Fraser
Shaune Fraser Photo courtesy of

It also pushes him past 45.82 Cayman Olympian Shaune Fraser (Beijing 2008, London 2012) as the second fastest CARIFTA collegiate swimmer of all time.

He would help the 400 yard medley team to fourth and a season best and NCAA B time of 3:08.32 with a butterfly split of 45.34 .

In the 100 yard freestyle he would lower his season best twice .In the morning he recorded 43.48. Competing in the C final he  easily topped the competition with a swim of 43.02. He had taken the wind out of the sails of the competition with a split of 20.01.In his final event the Notre Dame team recorded a season best and A qualifying time of 2:51.62.

When draftingthecaribbean caught up with Plaschka he gave his thoughts about his swims

“I was relatively happy with my swims in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. I was glad I was able to take off in both and hit times that would send me to NCAA’s. Only thing I was disappointed in and know that I have to work on in the future is racing better in the mornings. It’s something I know I will be working on the next few weeks in preparation for NCAA’s”.

Notre Dame finished fourth overall with 941 points.North Carolina State topped the

topped the competition with 1457 points.

competition with 1457.



Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka continued his good form in his senior season with the University of Notre Dame as he recorded his 5th victory in the 50 yard freestyle this season at the Shamrock Invitational which ran from Jan 26 to 27.

He won the event in 20.22 just holding off teammate Daniel Speers who touched in 20.28. Justin would also be a member of three Fighting Irish relay victories. In the 400 medley relay he contributed a 46.74 butterfly as the team touched in a winning time of 3:13.94.In the 400 yard freestyle relay the clock was stopped at 2:54.59. Plaschka handled 2nd leg duties with a 43.55 split. He actually started the competition at Notre Dame’s Rolfs Aquatic Center with a victory in the 200 yard freestyle relay. He got the relay off to a lead and the fastest time at the meet with a time of 20.10 as the team went on to win in 1:19.40. That opening leg is under the NCAA B time of 20.16, a standard he has bettered 5 times this season.

He would take a victory in 200 yard butterfly in what could be considered an off event for the sprinter. He won the race in 1:48.33 (split time 50.68) and from the firing of the starter’s gun he was always ahead.  It is also not far off from the NCAA B time of 1:47.99.

Justin Plaschka ACC 2
Justin Plaschka Diving off the blocks

The 100 yard butterfly saw him just out touched by Ohio State’s Noah Lense 47.52 to 47.73 despite charging hard to record the fastest last 50 yards of 24.80. Notre Dame topped men’s competition with 998.50 followed by Ohio State with 933.50 points. When draftingthecaribbean caught up with Plaschka on January 28 he had the following thoughts

“We are at the end of our latest training session and are about to start taper for conference so I’m pretty tired and worn out so those times are very good for me for this time of year. I’m looking forward to what can be done in four weeks at ACCs and then NCAAs”

The ACC competition will be held in Greensboro North Carolina from Feb 21 to 24.



Members of Jamaica’s team to the 2016 and 2014 World Short Course Swim Championships got 2018 off to solid starts for 2018

Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Justin Plaschka, who competed in Windsor in 2016, represents Notre Dame in the NCAA Division I, travelled to Iowa for a meet against Iowa on Jan 12 and 13. Justin recorded individual wins in the 50 yard freestyle in 20.16 under the NCAA B time of 20.19, 100 yard butterfly 48.90 .In the 200 yard medley relay the Fighting Irish finished second in a time of 1:29.01 Justin contributed a 20.82 butterfly leg. He had second place finishes in the 400 yard medley relay 3:18.09 and his butterfly split was 49.09,400 2:59.07 and 200 1:20.87 yard freestyle relays. On the freestyle relay teams he led off the team with splits of 20.47 and 44.54. Notre Dame beat Iowa 187-113.

Kelsie 2018.PNG

His teammate in 2016 Kelsie Campbell who represents Florida International University also in Division I was in action on Jan 5 at her home pool at the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Center . She had her top performance in the 50 yard butterfly where she touched in 27.32. Kelsie would record other top ten performances in the 100 yard butterfly 59.17 fourth place and the 50 yard backstroke 27.60 sixth. She would place 14th in the 100 yard individual medley in 1:04.09. FIU would top the 11 strong women’s field with 756 points.

Nico Campbell 2018
Nico Campbell Photo courtesy of

Nico Campbell who represented the country at the 2014 Doha World Championships had back to back dual meets against Emory and Nova Southeastern on Jan 12 and 13 respectively for his Division II Florida Southern College. Against Emory Nico won the 100 yard freestyle in 46.29.He was runner up in the 50 yard freestyle in 21.36. He was also a member of the 200 yard freestyle relay team that place 2nd in 1:25.56. On the following day his 200 yard medley relay won in 1:33.56 against Nova. Nico anchored the team with 20.99 freestyle leg. On the 200 yard freestyle relay he led off with a 21.76 as his A team placed second in 1:25.80.  He would also finished second in the 100 freestyle in 46.53.The 50 yard freestyle saw him finishing third in 21.57. Florida Southern won both contests turning back 131 to 74 Nova 134 to 128.


Jamaica’s Michael Gunning continued to show that he is one of the next wave of Jamaican stars looking to impress in senior international waters at the Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and World Short Course Championships in 2018 with another series of record breaking performances over the weekend.


Competing at the Stockport Metro November Open Meet this past weekend contested over short course metres (25 metre pool) he took down the  400 metre freestyle record and crushed his 200 metre butterfly set a little over week ago . He has set those records in the midst of heavy training schedule which means when he is fully shaved, rested and tapered one can expect him to go much faster in both the 25 metre pool and 50 metre pool when called upon to represent the island in international competitions.

Jamaica WUG
Michael representing Jamaica at the World University Games in Taipei

Gunning, who has represented Jamaica in at the 2017 World Championships and the 2017 World University Games placed 3rd in the 400 metre freestyle in a time of 3:53.08

Analysis of swim

First 100 54.83
Second 100 58.40
Third 100 59.37
Fourth 100 1:00.48
Total time 3:53.08

That lowered the 3:54.26 by distance King Dominic Walter when he represented the McMaster University in a Silver medal winning performance at the 2016 Ontario University Athletics Championships. Gunning completed yet another national record double as he now owns both the short course and national records in the event.

400 metre freestyle 3:53.08 3:57.70

Michael only participated in the Saturday session of the  three day meet as he revealed to draftingthecaribbean “I only swam as I’m so broken from training I did not want to run myself into the ground” which speaks to the intensity of his workouts at this time of the season.

gunning fly
Michael Gunning 200 metre butterfly record swim

Despite that he managed to crush his 200 metre butterfly national record of 2:05.12 with a Silver medal winning performance of 2:00.07. Michael was just edged for the Gold by Jacob Jackson of Ellesmere who recorded a time of 1:59.75.

Comparison of national record swims

First 100 58.00 59.28
Second 100 1:02.07 1:05.84
Total time 2:00.07 2:05.12

gunning profile pic
Michael Gunning

Draftingthecaribean spoke to Michael and got his thoughts about his performances

“I’m absolutely tired from racing every weekend but it’s great to see all my hard work is paying off and I’m managing to transfer all my skills from training and see the benefits coming together when I race. I was overjoyed to see how much I had broken those new Jamaican Records by as I didn’t expect to be swimming too fast right now in this block of work. It’s great to see that the Jamaican Swimming History is getting stronger and I’m so honoured that I get to be a part of it. It’s truly heart-warming to see how much encouragement and support I’ve received over the past year I can’t wait to see what’s to come leading into next year, as it’s a really exciting  time for both me and Jamaican swimming”.

Michael Gunning funky trunks
Michael Gunning Photo courtesy of

The Stockport swimmer owns the national records in the 50 metre pool in the 200 metre butterfly and 200 metre freestyle at 1:59.83 and 1:50.00. He boasts a personal best of 55.10 in the 100 metre butterfly since donning the Jamaican national colours. Those times would give him the following placings at the last three Commonwealth Games.

Event 2014 2010 2006
200 metre freestyle 12th 13th 7th
400 metre freestyle 18th 15th 13th
100 metre butterfly 17th 12th 12th
200 metre butterfly 12th 11th 5th

Michael is a part of a Jamaica’s next generation of swimmers that includes and is not limited to names such as Nico Campbell, Justin Plaschka, Keanan Dols, Kelsie Campbell, Breanna Roman and Bryanna Renuart. Queen of the pack remains Alia Atkinson and she will seek to lead the Jamaican delegation for the third time. The country continues to improve in the quality and depth of swimming at the senior level.  In 2006 the island sent 3 swimmers to the Melbourne Games, in 2010 3 went to Delhi India and in 2014 6 went to Glasgow Scotland.