The Bahamian duo of CARIFTA Champions Lilly Higgs and Izaak Bastian made the championship finals at the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games in Barranquilla Colombia on July 20 and 21st respectively.
This competition marks their second opportunity participating at a senior level meet, the first time was earlier this year at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. With more rest between competitions both swimmers who hold the fastest time ever in this event at the CARIFTA level were able to make the Championship final in the 100 metre breaststroke events. Lilly placed fifth in a time of 1:11.32 just ahead of countrywoman Laura Morley who stopped the clock in 1:12.34. In 2014 there was also a Bahamian as Lilly’s older sister Albury had placed fourth in 1:14.06.
Bastian lowered his best time twice .In the heats he had a time of 1:02.99 (split time 29.49) and in the final he placed seventh 1:02.91( split time 28.96). His split is significant as he won the 50 metre breaststroke at CARIFTA in Kingston Jamaica earlier this year in 28.69.
The presence of three Bahamians in Championship finals at this competition also speaks to the proficiency of that nation in this stroke.
Draftingthecaribbean contacted Lilly and asked about her first senior level Championship final and she gave us her thoughts about her first day of competition
“Overall, my races today went pretty well. This morning I swam the backstroke leg on the mixed 4×100 medley relay and later swam 100 breaststroke and qualified for the A final. My prelims swim wasn’t what I wanted, but I was still able to get another swim and am very happy with my finals swim!”
Kael Yorke of Trinidad and Tobago has had an outstanding junior swimming career for Team Trinidad and Tobago and this 2018 season was no exception. He completed the regional Golden Double (CARIFTA and CCCAN) titles in the 100 metre butterfly.He was also amongst the medals in both competitions in both competitions. He also came very close to establishing new records at both meets in his preferred stroke.
50 metre butterfly
25.45 heats 25.09
50 metre butterfly
25.17 heats 24.99
100 metre butterfly
100 metre butterfly
200 metre butterfly
200 metre butterfly
2:08.27 heats 2:08.12
Today awaits a new challenge , a senior international debut at the Central American and Caribbean Games.
It will be a challenge that he will have to learn to face as he transitions from the junior level to senior waters where the competition will be much closer from the morning heats to the final where mistakes will be capitalized upon by his competitiors
Draftingthecaribbean spoke to young Yorke at the CCCAN Championships about this season and the competitions he had for the rest of the season
“The CCCAN Meet has been progressing nicely for a meet that I am not tapered for. I am satisfied with the times that I am swimming. I actually swam a best time in the 50 m butterfly, going under the 25 second barrier (24.99). That says a lot about my training.
My favorite event, the 200 butterfly, was a bit off here (2:08.12 in preliminaries, 2:08.27 in finals which won a bronze medal). Hopefully I will be able to go faster when tapered.
After CCCAN I have two more championship meets this year, CAC and Youth Olympic Games. CAC will be an opportunity to test myself against senior level swimmers. This is the meet that I am tapering for. When it is over I will have a better idea how I rank against world-class times. This will give my coaches at the University of Indianapolis, where I am enrolling in the fall, a better feel for how to prepare me for the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina (October 6-18, 2018) and the 2020 Olympics where I hope to compete”.
Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe will be looking for a regional tri fecta in the 50 metre. So far this season he claimed the FASTEST SWIMMER title at the 2018 South American Games in Bolivia and the CCCAN Championships in Aruba and will be seeking to do the same in Colombia. At the Rio Olympics he was the CAC region’s top sprinter placing 21st
He started his hot streak at the G.A.M.C. Aquatics Center at Mariscal Santa Cruz Park in Cochabamba in May when he topped the sprinters in a time of 22.65. Winning the Silver was Venezuela’s Cristian Quintero who touched in 22.71 and Brazilian André Calvelo took the Bronze in 22.80.
He would strike more Gold at the CCCAN championships at Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik in early July when he was the only sub 23 seconds swimmer as he clocked 22.88 after being 22.86 in the heats. Silver went to Gershwin Greene of The Bahamas in 23.52 and the Bronze was won by Franco Reyes of Panama in 23.65.
He will now set about the challenge of taking his first CAC Games title after winning Silver in Veracruz Mexico in 22.62.Winning on that occasion was legendary regional swimmer Olympic medallist George Bovell III of Trinidad and Tobago who won his third consecutive title. Defending the throne this time for the twin island republic will be Olympian Dylan Carter and Joshua Romany. He would be familiar with the duo swimming against them in the junior ranks at CARIFTA.
They also finished in the order Renzo 23.44, Dylan 23.46 and Joshua 24.27 in 2013 in Kingston Jamaica when he set then fastest time for CARIFTA 23.37 in the heats before taking Gold.
The swimmer that that took that record from him Izaak Bastian at CARIFTA 2018 also in Jamaica with a time of 23.25 will also be in the 50 metre freestyle lineup trying to deny him the triple.
In 2014 at the South American Games in Chile he finished with the Bronze with 22.88 and this year he upgraded it to Gold. After winning the Silver in Veracruz Mexico will we see Renzo mining Colombian Gold? Will he also be able to break his own national record which is the same time as the 2010 Games record held by Bovell at 22.23 ?
When Lamar Taylor had been disqualified in the Championship final in the boys 13-14 50 metre freestyle at the 2017 CCCAN Championships after qualifying with a time of 25.18 in July he told draftingthecaribbean would be using that moment as inspiration to be even faster . Less than than a year later he has been true to his word by breaking the national record in the 50 metre freestyle and closing in on being the fastest 13-14 swimmer from the English speaking CARIFTA region OF all time.
Since last summer the Freeport Aquatics swimmer has blazed a trail to become the fastest regional swimmer this season in the 13-14 age category. At the inaugural UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida he was the top CARIFTA swimmer as he won Silver in a time of 24.57, the Gold went to Mexican Victor Salcedo Carrillo who out touched him with a 24.56.
At the CARIFTA Championships in Kingston Jamaica he took the Gold medal in a then personal best of 24.27 . He took the title convincingly as he was more than half a second ahead of the field . In that race he was just short of the national and CARIFTA record of 24.25 set by countryman Izaak Bastian.
At the 2018 Rev national he would make no mistake as he clocked a new PB, Championship record and age group national record of 24.06. In the final he was in scintillating form as he took the title in a time of 23.79. Lowered in the process was the Bastian’s 2016 meet record of 24.56.
The next milestone is getting past the 23.77 of Trinidad and Tobago’s Joshua Romany which stands as the fastest performance by a 13-14 swimmer from the English speaking CARIFTA region.
Already the top seed in the race for the upcoming CCCAN Championships in Aruba he is now faster the meet record of 24.10 held by Venezuela’s Olympian Crox Acuña (Beijing 2008 and London 2012).
50 metre freestyle
DQ 25.18 heats
24.57 Silver *
The national age group record in the 100 metre freestyle would not be spared as it went down as well. In the heats of the event he had splits of 26.24 and 27.72 for a total time of 53.96 to go under 54 seconds for the first time. The old national and Championship record of 54.25 had belonged to Kevon Lockhart. In the final he even split the race 27.60 and 27.51 to win in a time of 55.11.
The 200 metre freestyle saw another easy win for Taylor as he took Gold in 2:03.33 (split time 1:00.47) to be just outside the Championship record of 2:03.28 by John Bradley .
Swimming for exhibition he broke the 50 metre butterfly meet record and age group record of 26.16 and 26.18 respectively by Bastian with a blast of 26.09. His club mate Rommel Ferguson would lower that in the final with time of 25.98.
The 100 metre butterfly final would be a battle between the clubmates. Ferguson struck the first blow when he went out to a lead of 28.52 to Taylor’s 29.97. But in great display of negative splitting Lamar had the only sub 30 seconds split of 29.75 to lead his teammate to the wall 59.75 to 59.95. That would be the first time under the 1 minute mark for both swimmers.
100 metre butterfly
The sprint back stroke events the 50 and 100 metres saw him winning Gold in 28.05 and 1:01.57 respectively.
50 metre backstroke
The 100 metre backstroke effort lowered the Championship record of 1:01.82 held by DaVante Carey. A sub minute performance in the event could be on the cards for Lamar as his splits at CARIFTA and REV nationals suggest that he could be much faster
CARIFTA 30.94 and 30.47 Gold 1:01.41
Rev Nationals 30.11 and 31.46 Gold 1:01.57.
The 1999 national record of 1:00.82 is held by Olympian Chris Vythoulkas (Athens 2004) .
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Lamar he gave us his impression of nationals
“I feel really good about breaking the national records. I came to Nationals with the goals of setting the national marks in the 50 and the 100 freestyle and if I was lucky even more. It felt amazing to go 53 in the heats of the 100 metre freestyle. After my DQ in the 200 individual medley I felt I had to play it safe and that caused me to slow down a lot.So I just came up early (before the 15 metre mark and played it safe). In the 50 metre freestyle I knew that people were watching me on the 15 metre mark so in the heats I popped up early and went as fast as I could. In the final I stayed down a little longer and came up right before the 15 metre. I felt really good about the time and how I broke the record. In my mind during training for Nationals my goals were to better all my times and go under 24 and 54 for my 50 and 100 freestyle. I do have to say I was a little disappointed with my 50 freestyle time as I wanted to get the Youth Olympics Games A cut of 23.56″.
The future of swimming in The Bahamas continues to look bright as seen in the performances of the competitors at the 2018 REV National Swimming Championships which ran June 16-19. One of the top swimmers at the Championships was Nigel Forbes of the Tritons . He won Seven Gold medals in the 11-12 age group while setting new national marks in four events and lowering the Championship record in five races.
In his first race he lowered the meet record in the 200 metre breaststroke with a swim of 2:39.42 . That bettered the old mark of 2:41.45 set by Olympian Dustin Tynes (Rio 2016).He is now within reach of the 2014 national record of 2:38.61 set by local and regional star Izaak Bastian
200 metre breaststroke
In the 100 metre butterfly he dismissed the competition by more than seven seconds to land Gold in a new Personal best of 1:03.27. That broke the 2007 championship record of 1:03.79 set by Evante Gibson in 2007. It also brings him closer to the national record of 1:02.83 set by Samuel Gibson in 2014 . His newly minted PB would also move him from the second seed to the number one swimmer at the upcoming CCCAN Championships in Aruba . The CCCAN Championship record stands at 1:01.83.
100 metre butterfly
His next event , the 400 metre IM he was equally as dismissive as he was more than 20 seconds ahead of the competition as he took Gold in a new Championship and national record time of 5:18.05.He owned the old national record of 5:20.46 which he set in April of this year and the meet record of 5:26.52 was set by Kevon Lockhart in 2015.
The 50 metre butterfly saw him putting on an excellent display of sprinting in both the heats and the finals. The morning preliminaries saw him lowering his personal best and the Championship record of 28.28 held by DaVante Carey and Ian Pinder when they tied for Gold in 2015. The final saw him getting past the another 2007 Gibson national record of 27.77 with a blistering 27.67. That reaffirmed his favourite’s tag and number one seeding for CCCAN. It also brings him within touching distance of being the fastest 11-12 English speaking CARIFTA region swimmer in the event. That accolade belongs to Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympian Dylan Carter (Rio 2016) with his 27.34 blast from 2009.The CCCAN record is 27.30.
50 metre butterfly
28.68 Bronze *
*Top CARIFTA region swimmer
The 200 metre butterfly was the only event he did not set a record in it.He took the title by over 10 seconds stopping the clock in 2:28.42.
Regular service however resumed in the 50 metre breaststroke as he lowered his personal best from 33.74 to 33.34 in the heats. Clearly he had a lot more in the tank as he was in scorching form in the final .He broke the meet and national record of 32.94 regional standout Izaak Bastian with a 32.54 clocking besting the field by over four seconds. He again is the number one seed for CCCAN where the meet record stands at 32.42.
50 metre breaststroke
When draftingthecaribbean contacted him on June 18 he spoke his national record breaking swims in the 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre breaststroke
“It feels good .I know I have been training hard to get these records and now I have finally broken them”.
For his final record breaking act Forbes again lowered his personal best of 1:14.90 to 1:14.40 in the morning heats of the 100 metre breaststroke.The final saw him blasting away the Championship record 1:13.67 (Bastian 2014) and national record 1:12.26 (Tynes 2009) with a time of 1:12.24 split time 33.58. As the clear favourite and top seed in the event he is in reach of the CCCAN record of 1:12.18
Kael Yorke continues to impress in the butterfly events and achieved a new milestone for himself when he went under the 55 seconds 100 metre butterfly barrier on Friday May 11 at the 2018 National Open Long Course Championships at the National Aquatic Centre in Balmain Couva. .
The meet which ran from May 10 to 13 saw the reigning CARIFTA champion in this event lowering the meet record of 55.64 held by a former CARIFTA standout Cadell Lyons.
In the morning heats he swam a personal best of 55.26 lowering the old meet record . In the final he produced his best effort to date of 54.84. That swim moved him again past the Youth Olympic A standard of 55.59 and also his country’s CAC qualifying mark of 55.02.He also closes in on the national age group record of 54.21 set by Dylan Carter in 2014 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
THE ROAD TO SUB 55
2016 CISC heats
ASATT Dec 2016
2017 March Nationals March
2017 CARIFTA heats
2017 Nationals heats
2017 World Juniors
ASATT Dec 2017
2018 UNANA Cup
2018 February Nationals
2018 CARIFTA heats
2018 Nationals heats
At the 2018 CARIFTA Championships just missed out on a historic treble in the butterfly events when he won Gold in the 200 butterfly , Gold in the 100 butterfly and Silver in the 50. The Gold in the 100.The Gold in the 100 metre butterfly in his final CARIFTA marked the Third Gold he won in the event and the fifth medal overall.
CARIFTA 100 METRE BUTTERFLY MEDAL TALLY
2017 The Bahamas
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Yorke on May 14 he gave his thoughts on the road to sub 55, the actual race and his training since CARIFTA
“The race was good one.The 54.84 was my best time and it was the first time I went under the 55 seconds barrier. My previous best time which I did in the heats was 55.26.Those times were great for me because I was at 55 for a good while now.I had done 55.78 at CCCAN (at home) so it is really a good feeling to do 54 finally. I changed my tactics for the race. Normally I would hold back a little bit for the first 50 metres. But this time I held a smooth constant pace and did a faster time in the first 50 and just held my normal pace going into the last 50.I also focused on my underwaters going off the turn. I made sure to hold my breath coming off the turn . I would normally breathe coming off the wall and not breathing aided my momentum.I also made the qualifying time for CAC which was 55.02and I also improved upon my time for the Youth Olympic Games.The time also broke the meet record .Even though it was not a national record it was still a great achievement for me. Training after CARIFTA intensified.I really started working on my dryland and strength training. I started to do more exercises to help strengthen my body for the butterfly .Also the training in the pool has been very extensive and more work has been put into the long course training.I have been doing more butterfly and freestyle sets and also more endurance sets for my races which has greatly helped in improving my times for the 100 and also the 200, The training has been going well.I have cut down training a little bit because of the CAPE examinations that have been going on. But after exams I will go on to my regular pool and strength sessions so I can be fully prepared for the CAC Games”.
When the pool swimming component of the CARIFTA Championships ended on April 3 Luis Sebastian Weekes had won the Silver in the 200 metre breaststroke, Silver in the 100 metre breaststroke and placed fourth in the 50 metre breaststroke .
He also ended his last CARIFTA Championships as the fastest breaststroker from Barbados to compete at the meet. With times of 30.60 (2018), 1:06.37 (2018) and 2:23.53 (2017) no other person from his country has been as quick in these events.
To add to his legacy at the regional competition he also took the Gold medals in the 200 and 400 metre individual medley races in times of 2:08.97 and 4:42.71 .
In the 400 IM he has won a complete set of medals 2016 Bronze 4:47.76, 2017 Silver 4:45.41. No other swimmer from Barbados has won a medal in this event for the 15-17 boys other than Weekes since Bradley Ally won Gold in The Bahamas in 2004.
The shorter medley witnessed the first time Barbados was winning two medals in the 15-17 age group with teammate and Baylor school mate Jack Kirby stopping the clock in 2:09.56 to win the Silver.
The last time this happened was again in 2004 when Ally completed the medley double and countryman Shawn Clarke collected the Bronze.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Weekes he described the 100 metre breaststroke as being his best event at the Championships as he improved his time. In his words, “the 200 was little bit stressful as because I haven’t really trained for it. I was training more for the Individual medleys”. He also described the 200 IM as a very fun race as he won from Lane one thought it was a second or two slower than what he wanted.
He also described his CARIFTA experience
“It’s been a fun ride with a lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have traded the experiences for the world. I also made friendships that will last forever and I am eternally grateful”.
This September he will also be leaving ranks of high school and the Baylor School to be competing at NCAA Division III powerhouse Kenyon College. He will be joined by CARIFTA region standouts for their respective countries Joseph Black (Jamaica) and Eddie Weber (The Cayman Islands).