Laura Morley
Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Mike Dickbernd


After swimming to lifetime bests in the yards pool at the BIG TEN Championships Bahamian standout Laura Morley converted her impressive short improvement to the long course pool by setting 2 new national records. Morley moved the performance bar up for her nation by taking down the national records in the 100 and 200 metre breaststroke at the ARENA Pro Swim Series meet held at the Indiana University Natatorium from March 2 -5.The new Bahamian records stand at 1:11.46 and 2:32.98 respectively.

Morley set the previous marks of 1:11.83 (April 2) in the 100 metres and 2:35.03 (March 31) in the 200 metres and at 2016 Speedo Sectional Championship at SPIRE Institute.

Laura actually bettered her 200 metre breaststroke records twice clocking 2:34.00 (split time1:13.51) to qualify for the B final. She would crush that time in the final. She showed the strength of her conditioning as she moved from 8th at the 100 with a time of 1:13.53 to record a sub 1:20 split of 1:18.32 to finish 5th in 2:32.98. Her previous record splits before this meet were 1:14.72 and 1:20.31.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to the Nassau native on March 8 she offered these thoughts on her expectations heading in to the meet and described the heats and final of the 200 metre breaststroke

“ I headed into this meet hoping to go best times. On Thursday morning I swam the 200 breaststroke prelims and my coach told me to go out and have fun while swimming. I had no expectations going into this meet and was looking forward to competing against other International swimmers that had come to the Arena Pro Series. After touching the wall I was pleased with my time as I had dropped a whole second from my best time. However, for finals my coach and I really wanted to focus on my back half speed and see how fast I could go in finals. My B final at night had a lot of great competition and gave me a great opportunity to race really talented breaststrokers. Ultimately I went out in the same speed as the morning but really focused on my last two 50’s. When I touched that wall I was thrilled and so surprised, I had no idea that a 2:32 was in my reach!”

Laura Morley Indiana University Swimming and Diving
Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Indiana Swimming and Diving

In the 100 metre breaststroke, Laura, who represented The Bahamas at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games lowered her national record in the morning preliminaries. She swam 1:11.46 (split time 33.92) to yet again make another B final. In the evening’s B final she was again faster than her 2016 best when she placed 3rd in a time of 1:11.80 (split time 34.15).

Morley spoke about her 100 metre breaststroke and her performances overall

“For my 100 breaststroke on Saturday morning I also had no expectations because I swim more efficiently without putting pressure on myself. I ended up dropping a few tenths in the morning and qualified for the B final. I was very thrilled with my morning swim but unfortunately added a few tenths during my finals swim. However, my coaches and I were very pleased with my personal best times and performance at the meet”.

When asked how this meet sets her up for faster times for summer she said

“The Arena Pro Swim Series was a good indicator of where my fitness and training level are. I am looking forward to getting back into hard training so that I can completely gear up for the long course season. I do not have a set schedule yet for the summer for which meets I will be attending but my ultimate goal will be to qualify for Worlds”.

The 2016 national Champion in the 200 metre breaststroke was also asked if her coaches would have the World Championships B standards of 1:09.95 and 2:31.02 in mind when conditioning her for the rest of the season

“It would be such an honour to compete at the World Championships and it is a big goal for me this summer. However, my coaches and I try not to put pressure on specific time standards but strive for best times whenever I am rested for a meet. I think 2:31 and 1:09 are great goals for me moving forward with my training!”

She also gave an insight as to what her schedule would be now like

“Since the college season is almost over I do not have any meets scheduled until after I take my final exams. My coach and I are looking into swimming at the Arena Pro Series Meet in Atlanta during the first week of May but those plans are not set in stone. As of now I will be back in the water training full time until summer meets pick up”.





Hoosier A finalists in the 200 yard breaststroke from left to right Olympian Lilly King and Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Laura Morley

The Bahamas Laura Morley made significant time drops at the 2017 Big Ten Championships recently to continue her upward trajectory in the sport. The sophomore who represents the Indiana University Bloomington had all personal bests at the meet which was held at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center in West Lafayette Indiana from Feb 15 to 18.

Hoosier breaststrokers from left to right Hope Hayward and Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Laura Morley

Heading to her 2nd consecutive Conference Championships the Nassau native had a season best time of 1:02.70 (split time 29.66) in the 100 yard breaststroke. Her personal record in the event stood at 1:02.16 (split time 29.41) from the 2016 edition of the Championships. In the morning preliminaries Laura ensured that she would better those times as well as her placing from last year when she clocked 1:01.25 (split time 29.16) to make the B final in the event. In 2016 she had finished 6th in the C final in a time of 1:02.40 . The final in the evening saw her just off her new personal best as she finished 6th in a time of 1:01.54 (split time 29.25). In both races Morley was under the NCAA Division I B standard of 1:02.49.Her personal best in the even now places her as the 7th fastest performer in Hoosier history.



The 200 yard breaststroke saw another significant achievement for the 2016  CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) 18 and over girls 200 metre breaststroke champion. Morley had set an new personal record and season best at the 2016 AT&T Winter Championships in Atlanta Georgia with a time of 2:13.11 (split time1:04.84). She relegated that time to history in the morning heats. With an opening 100 yards of 1:02.47 she was going to be much faster than she had been before when she got her hands to the final. The final time on the clock provided that evidence as she recorded a new personal best of 2:11.50.That performance was well under the NCAA B time of  2:15.99 and qualified her for her FIRST Championship Final at   BIG TENs. This should the marked improvement from 2016 when she was 26th in 2:15.57. In that final Morley who holds the national record in the 200 metre breaststroke was just off her morning and placed 8th in a time of 2:11.72 (split time 1:03.16).Laura is now the 9th fastest  Hoosier of all time in the event.


2017 Hoosiers BIG TEN women’s team Photo courtesy of Blaire Bachman

In speaking to draftingthecaribbean Laura offered these thoughts about her 2017 BIG Ten experience

Overall, I am very pleased with my performances at BIG TENs. My ultimate goal was to score as many points for Indiana and my amazing team. I am thrilled with my personal best times; it makes all of the hard training worth it. BIG TENs is always such an exciting meet and I was so honoured to be score points for my team.”


She also described her mindset heading into the Conference Championships

“Going into BIG TENs my goals were to make sure I executed all my races properly and go best times. I didn’t have any particular times that I wanted to achieve.”

When asked about her plans post BIG TENs and possible participation at CCCAN in Trinidad and Tobago from July 1-6, World Championships in Hungary from July 23- to 30 and the World University Games in Taipei from August 20 to 27

“Post BIG TENs my team and I are headed to the Indy Pro Series this weekend in Indianapolis. I will be training in Bloomington this summer with Indiana University. As for my summer meet plans depending on how I perform l, will determine which meet I attend. I love representing the Bahamas so which ever meet I end up at I will be happy with.”

2017b Hoosiers women’s swim team Photo courtesy of Blaire Bachman


The Hoosiers finished 2nd overall with 1125 points.





Laura Morley Indiana University Swimming and Diving
Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Indiana Swimming and Diving

The Bahamas Laura Morley opened her 2016-2017 season recently with a tri meet in Bloomington Indiana on Friday Oct 21 against the universities of Florida and Texas. The meet held at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center was contested in a 50 metre pool.

Morley, a sophomore got her NCAA Division I campaign underway in the 200 metre medley relay for the Hoosiers B team. She split 34.30 on her breaststroke leg as the team posted a total time of 2:01.47.

In the 100 metre breaststroke a Nassau native posted 1:15.02 (split time 35.30)  for 5th place. That is significantly faster than the 1:17.19 she posted at the 2015 edition of the meet.

The 200 metre breaststroke saw her finishing 9th in a time of 2:43.96 (split time 1:19.29).Morley again bettered her 2015 performance which was 2:45.85.

The Hoosiers beat the Florida Gators 150 to 131 but went down to the Texas Longhorns 106 to170.

Morley holds the senior national record for The Bahamas in the 100 and 200 metre breaststroke events.


Joanna Evans Day 2 Nationals
Joanna Evans 800 metre freestyle Champion Olympic qualifier Fastest woman ever from the English speaking CARIFTA region

The 2016 RBC Bahamas Nationals Swimming Championships got off to a fantastic start at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre in Nassau on Thursday June 23. The region’s most impressive distance freestyler Joanna Evans provided the highlight for the day when she made the automatic qualifying mark in the 800 metre freestyle by swimming a sensational 8:32.19 to be crowned national champion.Her performance now ranks her 40th in the world for the 2015-2016 season. That time blew away the Rio Olympics A standard of 8:33.97. She also destroyed her personal best and national record of 8:37.18. With that incredible swim the Swift Swimming competitor now passes CARIFTA legend Jamaican Janelle Atkinson’s 8:34.51 as the fastest English speaking woman from the region.  Atkinson clocked her national record in a 9th place finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The University of Texas standout who is not tapered for the meet raced stroke for stroke with exhibition swimmer Guatemalan Valerie Gruest who also went under the Olympic A standard` when she stroked 8:33.28.

Joanna Evans 1 Nationals
Joanna Evans


Joanna had the following thoughts about the race “I’m thrilled to have made my Olympic A cut in my home pool and in front of my Bahamian fans. I am not tapered for this meet and just went out and raced”

New Bahamas 200 metre freestyle relay record holders 1:34.77 from left to right Keith Lloyd,Gershwin Greene,Kohen Kerr and N’Nhyn Fernander Photo courtesy of Bahamas Swimming

The Barracudas men team were responsible for setting a new senior national record in the 200 metre freestyle relay. The old record of 1:36.35 had stood to the Freeport Aquatic Club since 2011 when the team of Elvis Burrows,Evante Gibson,Ashton Knowles and Michael McIntosh had set the standard.The new standard is now 1:34.77 set by the team of Gershwin Greene,N’Nhyn Fernander,Keith Lloyd and Kohen Kerr




Tynes 2016 Nationals
Dustin Tynes Bahamas National Champion men 200 metre breaststroke

Another collegiate standout who claimed a national Championship was Dustin Tynes . The Ohio State swimmer claimed senior title in a time of 2:23.00 . Tynes said “it was a great race for this point in my summer season being unshaved and untapered. This was my best in season 200 breaststroke ever .At this  meet last year I was two seconds slower. It sets the tone for the rest of the season and that I’m in relative great shape relative to last year”.


The boys 13-14 title was claimed by Izaak Bastian in a time of 2:27.32. In a much anticipated race in the 15 and over girls 200 metre breaststroke Laura Morley won in 2:35.24. Silver and Bronze went to sisters Albury and Lilly Higgs in times of 2:37.16 and 2:41.93.

The senior 50 metre backstroke boys title went to Miller Albury in 28.19 with Dionsio Carey in 28.20 and N’nhyn Fernander the Bronze in 28.60.

The senior title in the 100 metre butterfly went to N’nhyn Fernander 57.87 ,Silver Evante Gibson 58.33 and Keith Lloyd 59.42.The women’s crown went to Bria Deveaux in 1:02.75. Albury won another Silver in 1:06.15 while Jasmine Gibson earned the Bronze 1:08.44.



The final stops in the ARENA PRO Swim Series were held recently in Santa Clara California from June 3 to 6 and Indianapolis from June 3 to 5. The CARIFTA region’s performances at these meets were highlighted by the good performances turned by Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and the US Virgin Islands Rex Tullius.


AVW Indianna 2016
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of pinterest

In Indianapolis Vanderpool-Wallace reaffirmed why she is not only one of the best sprinters in the Caribbean but also the World. In the shortest sprint on offer, the 50 metre freestyle she claimed lane 4 for the final with a 25.03 performance. In the final after a fairly even start for the field Arianna broke from the pack at 25 metres with terrific top end speed to punch the clock in 24.84. That time was the only sub 25 clocking of race. That performance equalled her second fastest time of the season done in Austin Texas and is just off her 24.80 which has her ranked 22nd in the world this season.


In the 100 metre freestyle she cruised into the final with her third fastest swim of the season of 54.85. In the final she unleashed a 25.99 first 50 metres for which the competition had no answer. They would have no solution to her closing speed and split of 28.19 , again the fastest of the final as she touched in for the win in a season best time of 54.18.With that season best she is now ranked 26th in the world.


Rex Tullius
Rex Tullius Photo courtsey of

Also in good form heading into the Rio in Indianapolis was Rex Tullius of the US Virgin Islands. Tullius recorded a season best time to win the Silver medal in the 100 metre backstroke. Putting up splits of 26.61 and 28.46 he posted a time of 55.07 bettering the 55.12 he swam in March. He continues to close in on the automatic qualifying mark of 54.36. In the longer race the 200 metre backstroke he again copped Silver. This time he just missed setting another season best. With splits of 59.58 and 1:00.69 he produced a Championship final time of 2:00.27. He just missed dipping under the 2 minute barrier again for the season after posting a season best of 1:59.52 in March. It was still well under the Rio B time of 2:02.36.


Laura Morley of the Bahamas earned an evening swim in the 200 metre breaststroke when she placed 4th in the D final. Her time was 2:37.20 (split 1:14.87). In the shorter breaststroke, the 100 metres she ranked 36th   with 1:13.50 (split 34.71) performance.

Also in action at the meet was Jamaican Justin Plaschka .Still in heavy training and not tapered he used the meet to remain race sharp. He clocked 57.28 (split 26.13) for 39th in the 100 metre butterfly. He was 38th in the 50 metre freestyle in 23.88.In the 100 metre freestyle he was 64th in a time of 53.22 (split 25.58).


Julian Fletcher Santa Clara 2016
Julian Fletcher Bermudan national record holder 100 metre breaststroke Photo courtesy of Royal Gazette (Bermuda)

Meanwhile in Santa Clara Julian Fletcher of Bermuda was getting back to his preparations for Rio after making his target time of 1:02.69.Fletcher attained the B standard with his national record swim of 1:02.47 at the Validus Bermuda National Long Course Championships in May. In California Julian won the D final of the 200 metre breaststroke in a time of 2:22.86 (split time 1:09.86).Fletcher was 4th in the C final of the 100 metre breaststroke with a time of 1:04.18(split time of 30.15)


Alia Atkinson Photo courtesy of Jamaica Olympics

The final day of the ARENA PRO SWIM SERIES AT CHARLOTTE on Sunday saw Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson winning another medal in a breaststroke event. Bahamian national record holders Joanna Evans and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace recorded season bests under Olympic B standard time to have top 8 finishes.

Alia Atkinson renewed her rivalry with Indiana Aquatics Lilly King and SwimMAC Carolina’s Katie Meili in a breaststroke event. This time the showdown would occur in the 50 metre breaststroke. In the morning heats it would be Meili who would strike first posting a time of 30.64 to be the number one seed. She would be flanked by King and Atkinson in the final who posted times of 30.78 and 31.33 respectively. The championship final would be the battle of the sub 31 second swimmers. In the end it would be King who would take the breaststroke sprint double with the win 30.35 breaking Atkinson’s pool record of 30.54.Meili won Silver in 30.42. Atkinson won the Bronze in 30.77.

Joanna Evans
Joanna Evans Photo courtesy of

The CARIFTA region’s best distance swimmer Joanna Evans continues to round into form as the season continues. She posted a season best of 8:44.06 to finish 6th overall. She bettered her time of 8:48.63 posted at the ARENA stop in Arizona. Joanna has improved each of the 5 times she has contested this event this season. The freshman from the University of Texas yet again bettered the Olympic B standard of 8:51.96.

AVW auburn tigers
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of

Her national team mate Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was faster than the Olympic B standard of 56.34 in both the heats and championship final of the 100 metre freestyle. In the morning she posted a time of 54.74. Arianna was just off that time in the final when she stopped the clock in 54.92 for 6th place.

The next wave of breaststroke talent Alexandria Donahue and Laura Morley earned second swims in the 50 metre event as well. Donahue representing Brown Aquatics recorded a time of 33.34 to make the B final. In that race she finished 8th in a time of 33.97. Morley of Indiana Swim team was timed at 34.66 in the morning. Laura would better that in the evening to place 2nd in the C final in a time of 34.41.

Aruban national record holder  Jordy Groters would better his season best of 28.91 in the men’s 50 metre breaststroke in the morning to post a time of 28.89. He would be the 12th fastest in the preliminaries but did not contest the B final. He would swim breaststroke in the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke hitting the wall in 1:04.20 .That was faster than the 1:05.30 he did in the heats of the 100 metre breaststroke.

Atkinson swam the heats of the 100 metre freestyle and recorded a time of 59.33.

In the men’s event Justin Plaschka of Irish Aquatics posted a time of 51.59. He was less than second off the Olympic B standard of 50.70. In the D final in the evening Justin clocked 53.03 to place 7th. Trinidad and Tobago’s Caryle Blondell was 38th in the event in a time of 51.83.


Justin Plaschka ACC 2
Justin Plaschka Diving off the blocks

The third day of action at the 2016 ARENA PRO SWIM SERIES AT CHARLOTTE  on Saturday May 14 saw yet another CARIFTA national mark being lowered. This time it was the Jamaican national senior mark in the 50 metre butterfly that was lowered. Justin Plaschka who held the mark of 24.89 prior to this meet when he won the Gold medal at the 2015 CCCAN championships on June 27 in Barbados. That record would not last beyond the morning heats as he stopped the clock in a time of 24.84. He would crush the record in the B final in the evening when he placed second in a time of 24.46 .Justin is the only Jamaican swimmer to swim under 25 seconds in this event.


Justin Plaschka
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

He would also be the fastest CARIFTA region swimmer at the meet in the 50 metre freestyle. In the morning heats he would record a time of 23.66 just off his season best of 23.52.That time who would earn him a spot in the D final. Joining him in that final would be Trinidad and Tobago’s former University of Louisville standout Caryle Blondell who posted a time of 23.54. In the final Plaschka would be the victor winning the race in a time of 23.30.The 19 year old Irish Aquatics swimmer already boasts an Olympic B time in this event having swum 22.90 in a time trial at the Phillips 66 in San Antonio Texas in August 2015 bettering the B standard of 23.05. Blondell repeated his morning performance with yet another 23.54 clocking .That propelled him to 5th in the race. Blondell has a season best of 23.02 recorded in February of this year.


Roy Burch (SwimMac Carolina) , the fastest sprinter ever from Bermuda continued on the road to full fitness when he swam the 3rd fastest time of his season of 23.85 to place 36th overall. Jordan Augier (Sharks Swim Club) ,St Lucia’s national record holder opened his long course season with a 24.15 to place 47th overall.

The meet which will not see the swimmers in peak condition as the main focus remains the Rio Olympics Games. Swimmers will continue to be doing heavy weight training and intense conditioning and using these competitions to gauge different aspects of training.

Arianna V-W underwater shot -swimoutlet
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of

Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (SwimMac Carolina) had her first start in the 50 metre butterfly in the morning when she posted a time of 27.09 to make the championship final .She finished 5th in  the evening in a time of 26.49. She had won the title previously in 2015 in 25.93 and in 2014 in 26.28.

Jamaican national record holder in the 50 metre butterfly Alia Atkinson put in a 27.92 performance in the morning to make the B final in the event. She lowered that significantly to hit the pads in 27.17 for 2nd in the race. Atkinson had put a 2:36.26 to earn a second swim in the 200 metre breaststroke but scratched .Laura Morley who has the fastest recorded time for the Bahamas in the event worked for a second swim in the evening when she clocked 2:37.37 to make the final. She would win that race in the evening in 2:36.00 not far off her Bahamas best of 2:35.03.

Aruban national record holder in the 200 metre breaststroke Jordy Groters was 34th 2:29.59.