As it was in 2017 in The Bahamas, so it was again in 2018 in Kingston as the Jamaican girls swept the sprint freestyle titles on the last day of the CARIFTA Championships on April 3.
The 11-12 girls started the Golden streak in record fashion. Starting the relay for Jamaican was Safiya Officer who touched in 29.35 with the chasing pack. First to the wall on the opening leg was Bermuda’s Elan Daley who was in awesome form throughout the competition. That advantage was eaten up by Isabella Sierra, a member of last year’s record setting team who was timed in 29.02.It was the final legs of the relay that changed the structure of the medal podium as Morgan Cogle with a leg of 28.96 and Aliyah Heaven who dropped the hammer with the fastest anchor leg, 28.14 that sealed the victory and record. The total team time was 1:55.47 .
That bettered the Championship and national age group record of 1:55.77 set by P’aige Lewis, Sierra Sabrina Lyn and Zaneta Alvaranga. Trinidad and Tobago won the Silver in 1:57.37. Martinique earned the Bronze in 1:59.54.
The 13-14 category saw the opening leg contested keenly between the Silver medallist in the flat 50 Naele Portecop of Guadeloupe and Bronze medallist Zaneta Alvaranga of Jamaica . It was the French Speaking territory that held the early advantage, with Portecop timed in 27.06 to Zaneta’s 27.65.Second leg swimmer Amore Hunter regained the advantage with a 28.46 clocking. Sabrina Lyn maintained the edge with a time of 28.51. Anchor leg and 50 freestyle Gold medallist Emily MacDonald removed all doubts as to who the winners would be with the fastest split of the relay 26.17 to push the team to a time of 1:50.79 just off the 1:50.77 Championship record .
In the final category the 15-17 age group Shaun Johnson got the proceedings under way with a 27.51 leg. The early advantage however, was held by the Bermudans who front loaded their relay with Bronze medallist Madelyn Moore who was timed in 26.44. Brianna Anderson took control of the event and took the lead for the Black , Green and Gold with a 27.17 effort. Naomi Eaton 27.58, withstood a charge from the Arubans in the form of Anahi Schreuders 27.17.It was now left to Gabrianna Banks to complete the sweep. She did not disappoint. She recorded the fastest split of the night 26.16 to help the Jamaicans to a Gold medal winning time and new national age group record of 1:48.42.
The old national age age group and senior national record of 1:49.07 was set last year.Silver went to Aruba in 1:49.68 and the Bronze to Bermuda in 1:51.09
At the 2008 CARIFTA championships in Aruba the 13-14 Jamaica team of Kendese Nangle Backstroke 1:12.20, Victoria Ho breaststroke 1:20.05, Alexia Royal-Eatmon butterfly and Raynae Hall freestyle 1:03.00 turned in a Gold medal winning performance in the 400 metre medley relay of 4:46.29 .That performance was also a national record effort.
Ten years later in Kingston Jamaica the 13-14 line up for Jamaica read Simone Vale backstroke, Sabrina Lyn breaststroke, Zaneta Alvaranga butterfly and Emily MacDonald freestyle. The team was supposed to be fast but what the quartet produced on Sunday April 1 at the National Aquatic Centre was phenomenal.
It was expected for the young ladies to challenge the record and do sub 4:45. But they went well below that passing 4:42, 4;40, 4:38 and beyond 4:35 to smash the national standard. En route to lowering the Jamaican record the fab four also smashed the 2017 CARIFTA record held by Trinidad and Tobago of 4:36.43. The final total time for the Jamaicans was 4:33.81.
Lead off leg Vale saved the best for last in the 100 metre backstroke .She recorded two personal bests in the 100 metre backstroke from the heats and the relay moving from 1:10.02 to her first sub 1 :10 time of 1:09.46.Up next Lyn added a breaststroke blast of 1:21.13. Alvaranga produced a butterfly split of 1:04.54 and MacDonald dropped the hammer with a split of 58.68.Guadeloupe won the Silver in 4:40.01 and Martinique the Bronze in 4:44.13.
The 13-14 girls posted the fastest female time in the event just bettering the time of their countrywomen in the 15-17 age group that won the Gold 4:33.87.
In 2017 Kael Yorke of Trinidad and Tobago swept the butterfly titles at the CARIFTA Championships at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre in the Bahamas he will be chasing history as he will seek to the be the first male swimmer in the 15-17 age group to sweep the 50,100 and 200 butterfly crowns twice . The mission starts today at the National Aquatic Centre in Kingston Jamaica starting 9am local time .
Yorke has put himself in good stead for a rewrite of the history books with strong performances at the UANA Cup and his National championships. At UANA Championships in Florida he was the top CARIFTA performer in the butterfly with times 56.53 in the 100 which won him the Bronze and a Silver medal winning performance in the 50 of 25.52.
At his National championships all but the 50 were faster than his Gold medal winning exploits in Nassau.
He will not have things his own way and should expect strong challenges from teammate Jeron Thompson, Florida state commit and 2018 Commonwealth Games Izaak Bastian of The Bahamas , Jamaica’s Jesse Marsh and Curacao’s Mauricio Payne to name a few of the competitors in what is a competitive age group .At the moment Yorke is tied Martinique’s Matthias Bellance who had the swept the events at the 2011 Championships in Barbados with winning times of 25.13, 56.47 and 2:07.95. The question to be answered is will Yorke be able to fend off all rivals and be the first to achieve the butterfly triple double.
In the swimming fraternity locally and regionally Rajiv Redhi is known as a top junior breaststroker for his school Wolmer’s Boys’ and as a representative for Jamaica. This is evidenced by his 200 metre breaststroke Silver medal performance in the 11-12 age group at the 2016 CARIFTA Games in Martinique. He would also have four other Championship final performances placing 4th in the in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke.
Later that year in The Bahamas he would compete for the national team at the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships from June 29 to July 2. He would make three Championship finals in the 50, 100 and 200 metre breaststroke event, just missing out on a podium finish with fourth place performances.
What others may not know is that his athletic abilities also extend to the sport of cricket. He follows a tradition of a number of Wolmerians and members of his local the Y Speedos before him who played cricket for the school and represented Jamaica in the pool nationally. Those names include the Foote brothers Mark and Gordon in the 1980s and Stefan Steer in the 1990s. Where Rajiv has taken it a step further is by gaining selection to the national Cricket team. He played for Jamaica in the Under 15 tournament in Grenada in 2016.
Also in 2016 Rajiv helped the boys from the Heroes Circle based institution win the ISSA Under 14 All Island First Global Champions. In parish competition he helped Kingston capture the Under 15 Championship when they beat St Elizabeth in the final in August of that year.
This year playing in the Urban Area Sunlight Cup competition for Under 19 boys he snared 27 wickets with his left hand spin bowling. He also competed in the Colts Under 16 competition where he amassed 22 wickets.
He had an amazing match haul during that competition of seven wickets for eight runs from eight overs. He has again gained selection to the national Under 15 team to play in Barbados.
Even better news would come in late May as Redhi has been selected to play for the West Indies Under 15 team that will tour England from August 8-21, 2017.His selection was based upon his performances in Grenada in 2016.
When draftingthecaribbean contacted Redhi he said this was the start of his dream and that he was happy and excited and wanted to be the youngest player to make the West Indies senior team. He stated that this was his platform to showcase his talent.
The University of South Carolina’s Albury Higgs of The Bahamas competed in the SEC (Southeastern Championships) in her first year of college making a B final and lowering her personal bests in the 200 yard breaststroke and the 400 yard individual medley.
The meet which took place from Feb 14-18 at the Allan-Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center in Knoxville Tennessee saw the freshman competing in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke and the 400 yard individual medley in her SEC debut.
It would be the 200 yard breaststroke where she would make her greatest impact. Heading to the conference she had a season best time of 2:18.76 (split time 1:05.96) and a personal best time of 2:14.06 (split time 1:03.99). In the heats of the event it was clear that both times would be committed to history as she covered the first 100 yards in a time of 1:03.34. When she touched the final wall Albury would have a new season and personal best time of 2:12.67. That would be good enough to earn her an evening swim in the B final. In that final the first 100 yards was again the indicator of the personal best to come. Higgs went out even faster with a split time of 1:03.23. The question was now how much she would lower her personal standard by. When she hit the pads the time registered was 2:11.49 for 5th place .Another personal best by more than a second.
Her success in the longer breaststroke event is a continuation of her form in 2016 when she was crowned the 15-17 CARIFTA champion in March and the 15-17 CISC Champion in June in the 200 metre breaststroke. Also bettered in both her heats and final swim was the NCAA Division B standard of 2:15.99.
In the 400 yard individual medley Higgs would again better her season best of 4:22.79 and personal best of 4:19.56. Albury would register a time of 4:18.65 to better the NCAA Division I B standard of 4:19.39 for 28th overall. This is yet another event in she reigned supreme in regional age group waters for 2016 .This, as she took the CARIFTA title in the 400 metre individual medley in Martinique and later took the CISC title in The Bahamas in the summer.
The 100 yard breaststroke saw Albury bettering her season best of 1:03.99 when she clocked 1:02.81 (split time 29.19) for 25th overall.
When asked about her first SEC experience by draftingthecaribbean Albury had these thoughts
“It was an amazing experience representing the gamecocks at my first SEC Championships! I was happy to go best times in both my 200 Breaststroke and 400 IM, and had so much fun with my teammates. Mostly I was glad to be able to score some points for the team”.
The Gamecocks finished 9th in the women’s competition with 505,
Margaret Higgs of The Bahamas raised the profile of the CARIFTA region in age group swimming when she made the final of the 200 metre breaststroke event at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii on Saturday August 27.She was the only swimmer from the region to qualify for a Championship final at the 2016 edition of the age group meet which featured top swimmers from aquatic powerhouses The United States of America, Japan and Australia.
Coming into this competition Margaret already had a stellar season in the event as she won the 15-17 CARIFTA title in Martinique in Championship record and personal best of 2:35.33. Later in her home country she added the CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) title, which she won in a time of 2:36.83, yet another Championship record. Based on her impressive CARIFTA record in the event, her feat should come as no surprise. Except when she made her debut at CARIFTA in 2011 when she won a Bronze medal Margaret has never lost.
Host Country & year
Younger sister Lilly also earned a second swim in the 200 metre breaststroke. Lilly who won the Silver medals in the 200 metre breaststroke at both CARIFTA and CISC in the 15-17 category posted 2:40.91 to place 16th overall in the morning heats. In the final she split 1:16.96 and 1:21.95 for a final time of 2:38.91, two seconds faster than in the morning.
Margaret placed 30th in the 200 metre individual medley in a time of 2:26.33 (split time 1:11.44). Lilly was 18th in 2:24.35 (split time 1:09.27).
Bahamian sisters Margaret and Lilly Higgs were the first swimmers to earn a second swim at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships on Friday August 25th in Hawaii. The sisters who have dominated the 100 breaststroke event regionally in the 15-17 category by sweeping Gold and Silver both at CARIFTA in Martinique and CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming championships) in their home country. Lilly booked her spot with a 1:13.08 effort (split time 34.69) for 13th overall. Older sister Margaret qualified for another swim with a time of 1:13.79 (split time 34.70) .She placed 15th overall.
In the B final later that day Margaret would place 4th in a time of 1:13.65 (split time 34.83). She had this to say after her swim
“It is always an honour to represent the Bahamas, but this trip is really special since it’s the first time the Bahamas has sent a team to Junior Pan Pacs. It is a great feeling making history. My first event was the 100 breast, and although I didn’t go a best time, I came 4th in the B final swimming alongside my sister. I’m looking forward to my next two events on Saturday”
Her sister Lilly had splits of 35.22 and 38.91 to finish 6th in a time of 1:14.13. Speaking after that swim she said
I am proud to have had the opportunity to be on the first Bahamian team taken to Jr Pan Pacific Championships. Before my first event, the 200 free, I had a technical difficulty but still performed as well as I could. The 100 breaststroke was my second event. In the prelims I went one of the fastest times I’ve swam this season, enabling me to swim in the B final and place 6th.
Bermudan standout Madelyn Moore was 44th in the 100 metre freestyle in a time of 1:01.57.