CARIFTA  2018 in Kingston Jamaica would be the last for University of Miami Ohio bound Bryanna Renuart.t would also  in front of her home crowd. Renuart who had been a mainstay in the Jamaican team since the 11-12 age group  had been a major points contributor in the breaststroke and individual medley events but had never tasted Gold in an individual event. That would all change on April 1.

Bryanna Renuart.PNG

Swimming in the second heat of the timed finals of the  400 individual medley in the afternoon she broke free of the field from the opening butterfly leg with a split of 1:10.10. she would not relinquish that lead at any point in the race and in fact built on it to win by more than seven seconds in a new PB of 5:07.30. The Silver went Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas in 5:14.30 and the Bronze to Sam Bailey of The Cayman Islands in 5:19.11.

Zara Bailey with 400 Im Gold
Zara Bailey 2013 400 IM Gold medallist Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

That ended a five year Gold medal drought for Jamaica as the last time the country was  a top of the long medley podium in this category was in  2013 in front of a home crowd through the efforts of Zara Bailey.It was only the third time in the last 20 years that a Jamaican had won the 400 Individual medley in the  category for girls. Olympian Alia Atkinson had won Gold as well in 2006.

When Draftingthecaribbean contacted her on April  14 she had this reaction to her Gold medal winning performance

renuart 400 IM Gold M Lyn
15-17 medal podium from left to right Higgs Silver, Renuart Gold and Bailey Bronze Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

“I really wasn’t expecting to win any individual CARIFTA events because Lilly Higgs is such a dominant swimmer so I was completely shocked. Even during the race I had no idea I was winning. Standing on the top of the podium and hearing the Jamaican anthem playing because of something I accomplished was incredible.The atmosphere at this CARIFTA from my perspective was the most electric swim meet I’ve ever been to. Having a home crowd reminded the Jamaican team how meaningful it is to represent our country and the extra people cheering for us led to some stand-out swims.”





Since 2014 no other nation other than The Bahamas has won a breaststroke event in the 15-17 girls age group. Thanks to sweeps by Laura Morley in 2014, Albury Higgs in 2015 and the joint efforts of the Higgs sisters Albury and Lilly in the years 2016 and 2017 all other nations have been kept out.

Albury higgs profile gamecocks online
Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of gamecocksonline
Laura Morley Indiana University Swimming and Diving
Laura Morley Photo courtesy of Indiana Swimming and Diving

With Laura and Albury now navigating in senior water the defence of the Bahamian streak is left to Lilly and  teammate Victoria Russell.

Victoria Russell
Victoria Russell finalist in the women’s 100 metre breaststroke at the  2017 Commonwealth Youth Games

Russell who made her first international final at last summer’s Commonwealth Youth Games will be looking to make her mark at her final year at CARIFTA. She is ranked second in the 50 and 100 metre events and fourth in the 200.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

Lilly who has committed to swim for the University of North Carolina this September will be looking to lower the Championship record in all three races. Higgs who has is undefeated at these Championships will be looking to lower her records in the 50 and 100 as well as her sister’s in the 200.

Year Stroke Time
2016 200 2:35.33
2017 100 1:11.70
2017 50 32.70

Higgs and Russell will be looking to turn back the expected challenges of Aruba’s Anahi Schreuders, Curacao’s Chade Nercisio and Jamaica’s Bryanna Renuart along with other outstanding swimmers from around the region. After competing in Kingston, Higgs will jet off to make her senior international debut at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in GoldCoast Australia. Currently she is the only Bahamian swimmer to medal at the Commonwealth Games when she copped the Silver medal at the Youth Games at home in 2017.


Lilly Higgs celebrating 100 yard breaststroke win
Lilly celebrating 100 yard breaststroke State Record Photo courtesy of Patrick Schneider

Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas ended her high school career on the best possible note as she set a new meet and state record in the 100 yard breaststroke and helped school William Amos Hough High to their third consecutive North Carolina 4A State Championships.

Competing at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary on Saturday Feb 10,2018 Higgs would waste no time establishing herself as the top seed for the final when Lilly recorded the fastest time ever in 4A history as well as North Carolina high school history stopping the clock in 1:01.77. That just edged the 2017 record by Middle Creek”s Julia Poole of 1:01.77. In the final she would not have things her own. Mika Fullerton of Apex had shown early front end speed with a 28.68 in the preliminaries to take the second seed with a time of 1:02.40.

Lilly in action
Lilly Higgs stroking her way to Gold in the 100 yard breaststroke Photo courtesy of Patrick Schneider

The final would prove no different as Fullerton led the early proceedings with a 28.97.Higgs and Ashley McCauley of Leesville Road tracked her with splits of 29.20 and 29.56 respectively. The last 50 yards would be a battle between Higgs and McCauley as they split sub 33 seconds. It would be Higgs who would get her hands to the wall first as she split 32.37 to hold off Ashley and win Gold in 1:01.57. McCauley ,who pressed hard at the end clocked 1:01.78 while Fullerton won Bronze in 1:02.73.

That challenge helped Higgs not only reset the meet and State Mark but also lower her personal best of 1:01.58 set back in  March 10,2017 at the SPEEDO Sectionals –Eastern. Her Gold medal is also a tribute to her hard work and consistency to be the best over the years at this  Championship. She would also be her school’s only individual winner on the night

The Path to Gold

Year First 50 Second 50 Time Place
2018 29.20 32.37 1:01.58 Gold
2017 29.48 32.71 1:02.19 Silver
2016 30.19 33.05 1:03.24 Bronze
2015 31.58 34.25 1:05.81 2nd B Final

She would win another title in the 400 yard freestyle relay as the Hough Huskies recorded the fastest winning time of all three State Championships 1A/2A,3A and 4A to take Gold. The team of Heidi Lowe 50.95, Amaya Hanley 52.07, Kesnley Merritt 50.68 and Higgs 50.73 touched in 3:24.43 just ahead of South Mecklenburg 3:24.86.

In the 200 medley relay the Hough Huskies placed fourth in a time of 1:43.95. Higgs had the second fastest breaststroke split of the meet with a time of 28.20. She would also place fourth in the 200 yard individual medley in a time of 2:03.14 (split time 59.18), the fourth fastest time in her career.

Higgs gave her thoughts about her performances to draftingthecaribbean

“As always, I enjoyed representing my high school at the state level! With a team of only 3 divers and 8 swimmers we were able to win states for the third time in a row, which is an incredible accomplishment. Individually I placed fourth in the 200im and first in the 100 breaststroke and set a new meet record, which I was so proud to do to. Being a senior this year it was a way for me to leave my mark on high mark on high school swimming!”

She , along with older sister Albury were members of the 2016 Huskies team that set the state 200 medley relay record of 1:43.21 .

Lilly Higgs and Huskies 2018 celebration
The Hough Huskies celebrating the three peat Photo Courtesy: NCHSAA Twitter (@NCHSAA)

The Huskies topped the competition with 295 points followed by Leesville Road 267 and South Mecklenburg 197.


Higgs who has been unbeaten in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke at the CARIFTA level for the last three will to aim to build on her CARIFTA legacy in her final year of eligibility when she competes at  the Championship in Kingston Jamaica next month



As some of the CARIFTA region top age swimmers prepare for themselves for competition at the inaugural UANA Swimming Cup in Coral Springs Florida starting tomorrow January 19 draftingcaribbean looks back at the region’s youngsters efforts at the 2017 SPEEDO Winter Junior Championships -EAST in December. The UANA Cup is designed for athletes from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean that are in UANA Zones 1 and 2. Hence Americans and Canadians will not be invited

On December 8 in Knoxville Tennessee Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas who represents SwimMac Carolina was the most outstanding female CARIFTA performer. Lilly, who was voted The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year made her first Championship final in the 100 yard breaststroke.

Link to Women’s 100y Breast A Final | 2017 Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East


She placed 8th of the 102 competitors in the field with a time of 1:01.86. Her previous placings were 9th in 2015 and 11th in 2016.

Higgs on way to sprint breaststroke double at CARIFTA 2017
Lilly en route to the 100 metre breaststroke Gold medal at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in The Bahamas Photo courtesy of Micheal C Lyn

Higgs has been unbeaten at the CARIFTA level in the  100 metre breaststroke for the last three years and holds the 15-17 age group record at 1:11.92.

Higgs finished 57th in the 400 yard individual medley in a time of 4:26.97 just off her personal best of 4:25.49.

Lauren Hew Saint andrews aquatics
Lauren Hew Photo courtesy of Saint Andrews Aquatics

Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands and Saint Andrew’s Aquatics was 66th in the 100 yard backstroke in a time of 56.37. Hew, won the CARIFTA Gold medal in her final year of the 15-17 age group in 2017 in the 100 metre backstroke and holds the record at 1:05.94. She also finished 80th in the 200 yard freestyle in 1:52.27. Lauren also won the 200 metre freestyle at the 2017 CARIFTA Championships in 2:05.98 finishing ahead of Higgs.

Chadé Nercisio before her race Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Curacao’s Chade Nersicio was 17th in the 200 yard freestyle relay team in a time of 1:34.93.She was just off her best time of 57.98 in the 100 yard butterfly as she hit the wall in 58.01. It would be another close miss for a personal record for the East Coast Aquatics swimmer in the 100 yard breaststroke as she stopped the clock in 1:05.72 and her personal record is 1:05.48. Nersicio is ranked 3rd in the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke with a time of 1:14.61.


On the first day of the 2017 SPEEDO Winter Junior Championships – East at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville Tennessee on Dec 6 the CARIFTA region had reason to celebrate through the medal winning performances of regional standouts Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas representing SwimMac Carolina and Jack Kirby of Barbados representing Baylor Swim Club.

Lilly Higgs North Carolina

Higgs , a University of North Carolina commit, swimming as a member of the 200 yard medley relay A team won the Bronze medal. The squad of Julia Menkhaus backstroke 25.05, Higgs breaststroke 28.07, Sophie Lindner butterfly 23.96 and Olywyn Bartis 22.64 recorded a total time of 1:39.07. Being held simultaneously in University of Iowa Recreation Center in Iowa City Iowa is the competition for the West. When the results from meets in both the East and West are combined the SwimMac time was the 4th fastest of the 104 competing teams. Lilly also recorded the 8th fastest breaststroke split overall.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

She is also the reigning 15-17 CARIFTA champion in the 50 metre breaststroke and has been unbeaten in the sprint breaststroke events  for the last three years.

Kirby would win the same colour medal as his regional counterpart as his Baylor team won the Bronze in the 200 yard medley relay as well. With the combined results the team was also the 5th fastest overall.

Jacky Kirby in action in the backstroke  Photo courtesy of Baylor Swimming

Jack crushed his previous personal best of 23.70 in the 50 yard backstroke with a lead off swim of 23.03.His teammates Piotr Kurleto breaststroke 25.28, Zachariah Althoff butterfly 22.32 and Robert Freeman freestyle 19.92 finished in a time of 1:30.55.

Jack Kirby Photo courtesy of Tastey Blackman

Kirby, who is the reigning CARIFTA Silver medallist in the 15-17 50 metre backstroke had the 18th fastest backstroke split of 101 competing teams.

Bronze medal winning Baylor team
Kirby with members of his Baylor relay team Photo courtesy of Baylor swimming

There would be more success for Kirby as his 800 yard freestyle relay team the held the 800 yard freestyle championship record briefly before their time was bettered by two other teams to finish with the Bronze medal. The same team from the medley relay team Althoff 1:39.20,Kirby 1:39.17,Kurleto 1:37.84 and Freeman 1:34.44 stopped the clock in 6:30.65. That bettered the 2016 Scottsdale Aquatics meet record 6:31.93. Silver went Mason Manta Rays in 6:28.95 and Gold to the Carmel Swim Club in 6:28.25.

Chadé Nercisio  Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Others in action from the region on the day was Curaçao’s star sprinter Chadé Nercisio who anchored her East Coast Aquatics Swim club to 29th spot in the East Championships with a quick split of 22.92. The 20 fastest overall anchor from both meets. The final team time was 1:45.52.At her last CARIFTA Championship in 2016 she won the 13-14 50 metre freestyle.

Irvin via Rafael
Irvin Hoost Photo courtesy of Rafael Van Leeuwaarde

Irvin Hoost of Suriname provided the 7th fastest freestyle anchor split of both meets with his time of 20.01 .That powered his Metro Aquatics Swim club to 10th in the East with a time of 1:31.55.Hoost recently won the Florida 2A State Championship in the 50 yard freestyle and was 6th in the 50 metre freestyle at his last CARIFTA Championships.

Joseph black M Lyn
Joseph Black .Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

In the 800 yard freestyle relay Jamaican Joseph Black gave his Peddie Aquatics team a second leg of 1:42.84 to help to 6:51.92 and 27th overall in the East. Black was a member of the 800 metre freestyle team that won Jamaica’s first Gold medal in the 15-17 age group.



Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas, a top regional age group standout has committed to swimming for the University of North Carolina starting September 2018.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

Lilly has been the CARIFTA Championships top sprint breaststroker for the last two years. She has also been unbeaten in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke for the last three extending to her final year of the 13-14 age group. Since winning her first CARIFTA medal, a bronze for Team Bahamas at the Aruba Championships in 2014 she has become a powerhouse for her country at the annual championships. Her overall CARIFTA medal tally now stands at 30 medals won, eleven of which are Gold.

Lilly created history for her country and the CARIFTA region last season when she won a Silver medal in new 15-17 and senior national record in the 50 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games July when The Bahamas hosted the competition. She would also lower the 15-17 and senior national record See link below

World Junior Champs team Bahamas.PNG

Her impressive run at the junior level also extends to the World Junior Championships where she competed at two editions, 2015 in Singapore and recently in Indiana. Lilly bettered her times from her first campaign and registered the top CARIFTA regional performances in all the events she competed in. She again lowered the national mark in the 100 metre breaststroke

Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
Aug 25, 2015 World Juniors Singapore 50 metre breaststroke 33.19 21st
Aug 27, 2016 World Juniors Singapore 100 metre breaststroke 1:13.00 24th
Aug 30, 2017 World Juniors Singapore 200 metre breaststroke 2:40.48 29th
Aug 28, 2017


World Juniors Singapore 200 metre individual medley 2:25.73 40th
Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
August 23,2017 World Juniors Indiana 50 metre breaststroke 32.84 20th
August 25,2017 World Juniors Indiana 100 metre breaststroke 1:11.18 22nd
August 28,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre breaststroke 2:39.87 30th
August 26,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre individual medley 2:23.41 34th

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her about her college choice she had the following thoughts

“After many trips to schools and teams around the country, I decided that my best option for continuing my education and training was right here in North Carolina at UNC.  I am so excited to be a Tar Heel!”.

Lilly will join a number of talented Bahamian women competing at the NCAA Division I level. Those swimmers include Laura Morley who competes at University of Indiana –Bloomington and older sister Albury who swims for the University of South Carolina.




Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion Photo courtesy of carifta2016mque

Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas who has been the dominant swimmer in the sprint breaststroke events at the CARIFTA age group level for the last three years continued that good form at the World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis on August 25 when she lowered her 15-17 and senior national 100 metre breaststroke record for the second time this season.


Lilly recorded a time 1:11.18 to lower the mark she had set of 1:11.40 when she was a finalist at the Commonwealth Youth Games in July in The Bahamas. She was already the CARIFTA region’s best ever placed female performer in the event at the Global championships when she had placed 24th at the Singapore edition of the Championships. Higgs has raised the bar by moving the best placing to 22nd   and is almost 2 seconds faster than that swim.

Analysis of Lilly’s 2015 and 2017 world Championship performances

Date meet Venue First 50 metres Last 50 metres Final time Placing
 2015 World Juniors Singapore 34.54 38.46 1:13.00 24th
2017 World Juniors Indianapolis 33.89 37.29 1:11.18 22nd

Lilly was also the 2nd fastest swimmer from the CCCAN region finishing just behind Mexico’s Maria Jimenez who placed 20th in a time of 1:11.01 (split time 33.08).

Rounding out the top three in CCCAN was Puerto Rico’s Marissa Lugo Mojica who placed 39th in a time of 1:17.14 (split time 35.35).