Jamaica’s Nicholas Vale signaled his intentions to qualify for this year’s CARIFTA Championships in Barbados with personal bests at the 2019 Long Course Sectional Qualifier in Plantation,Florida held from Feb 8 to 9.

Vale, representing the Pine Crest swim club topped the 200 metre freestyle field with a new personal best time of 1:57.03. Nicholas was the best of the 63 strong field. He will be aiming to be on the medal podium in Barbados as he is atop the Jamaican rankings for 15-17 boys in the event . In the last two editions of the Championships Nicholas placed 5th with times of 1:57.46 and 1:58.32. Setting a personal best ahead of the Championships puts him in good stead to make that a medal a reality.

Nico Campbell at CARIFTA Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

The last time Jamaica was on the boys 15-17 200 freestyle medal podium was 2015 in Barbados when Nico Campbell recorded 1:54.62 for the Silver medal. That Championship was in Barbados and Campbell’s time is also the fastest time ever done by a Jamaican in the event at CARIFTA.

Comparison of personal best times

200 freestyle20182019
First 5027.0228.23
Second 5030.2630.17
Third 50 30.5529.03
Fourth 5029.6329.60
Final time1:57.461:57.03

Vale also lowered his personal best from the 2018 CARIFTA Kingston Championships in the 200 metre backstroke from 2:17.46 (split time 1:05.83) to 2:16.07 (split time 1:06.32) to place fourth. Looking at how Nicholas is pacing his races it can be seen that he is developing his back end speed. That was evidenced by his 400 metre freestyle when he negative split the race 2:10.10 and 2:07.88 to have a total time of 4:17.98 to place third overall.

In his other races he placed fifth in the 50 metre butterfly in 25.95 and the 100 metre freestyle saw him fifth again in 54.10 (split time 26.24) , just missing out on his personal best of 53.87

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Vale on February 16 he gave his thoughts on his performances

“I am really happy with my performances at the Sectional qualifier especially the 200 metre freestyle and 200 metre backstroke.They were both best times .I was really happy with the 200 metre freestyle because I had not dropped that time in a while. I know I can go faster in the 200 metre backstroke.I feel really good going into CARIFTA. I have some really big goals I hope to break the the CARIFTA record (54.87 set by Suriname’s Zuhayr Pigot in 2014)”.

Zuhayr Pigot Photo courtesy of Times of Suriname

In 2018 Vale had won the Silver medal in the 100 metre butterfly in a time of 56.29. The fastest ever time recorded by a Jamaican at CARIFTA

Nicholas Vale Silver medallist Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

The pool swimming segment of the CARIFTA Championships will be held from April 19 to 23.Championships is an approved qualifying meet for the 18th FINA World Championships 2019 – Gwangju, Korea, the Pan American Games 2019 – Lima, Peru and the XXXII Olympiad 2020 – Tokyo, Japan



Florida Southern College’s Jamaican Junior Nico Campbell continues to show progress in his swimming career by winning two relay medals so far at the NCAA Division II championships underway at the  Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina. The meet which started on Wed March 14 saw him bettering his 2017 performances.

Nico Campbell
Nico Campbell Photo courtesy of fscmocs.com

In the 800 yard freestyle relay, which was swum yesterday, saw The Moccasins’ team of Matthew Holmes 1:36.75,Campbell 1:37.37,Luka Matacin 1:38.65 and Luka Planinc 1:36.92 stopped the clock in 6:29.69 to win the Silver .This is a big movement from 2017 when the team finished seventh in 6:33.85.Nico’s split then was 1:38.78.Queens won the event in 6:25.42

In the 200 yard freestyle relay on Thursday Florida Southern earned their second consecutive Silver medal in the event.The team of Noah Franz 20.46,Campbell 19.92,Matacin 19.77 and Talor Hamilton 20.05 stopping the clock in 1:20.20.In 2017 Nico was timed in 20.19. The Gold went to Oklahoma Baptist in 1:18.11 . The second leg swimmer on that team was Chad Brandon whose parents are Jamaican.

Nico Campbell SSCC
Nico Campbell

In the 200 yard freestyle he would better his 2017 showing of 1:38.39 twice. In the heats when he swam 1:38.09 (split time 47.60) and when he registered 1:38.13 when he placed fourth in the B final.

Campbell’s 200 yard medley relay team placed second in the B final with a time of 1:28.17.Nico contributed an anchor leg of 20.13.



Nico wins
Nico celebrates Conference title Photo courtesy of Sunshine State Conference

Florida Southern College’s Jamaican Junior Nico Campbell captured his first Conference title when he stormed to victory in the 200 yard freestyle on Friday Feb 23 at the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Championships.

Nico celebrates
Nico the best in the Sunshine State Conference Photo courtesy of Sunshine State Conference

Nico, who has been in great form since the 2017 Long course season where he recorded several bests carried that over into the yards portion of the season. In the morning heats he showed his intent when he recorded a season and personal best time of 1:37.49 (split time 47.45) to claim the number one seed heading into the final. In the final the Jamaican trailed in third place at the century mark with a time of 47.20.He would have more in legs than the field and came roaring back to win in another personal best of 1:37.28.For Nico this is a step up the podium as he finished with the Silver in 2017 in a time of 1:38.23.

The Road to Conference Gold

Year Time split Place
2018 1:37.28 47.20 Gold
2017 1:38.23 48.52 Silver
2016 1:39.21 48.04 7th

Nico Carifta
Nico Campbell at CARIFTA Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

It was no surprise to anyone following Nico’s career that his first Conference title would be in the 200 yard freestyle as he is a former Jamaican senior national record holder in the 200 metre freestyle in the short course and long course metre versions of the event.At the CARIFTA level he is remembered for his anchor leg in the 15-17 800 metre freestyle relay that brought the island its first Gold medal in that event for that age group in 2014. He would replicate that exciting performance in 2015. He still holds the 15-17 age group record 1:53.95 as well as the fastest Jamaican performance of all time performance at CARIFTA 1:54.62.

200 yard medley relay podium
200 yard medley relay podium Photo courtesy of Sunshine state Conference

That would not be the only Gold medal won by Campbell as his Florida Southern team won the 200 yard medley relay. The quartet of Brandon Dyck backstroke 22.23,Luis Jasso breaststroke 24.48, Noah Franz 21.04 and Campbell 20.07 won Gold in a new Championship record time of 1:27.82.That bettered the 2017 mark of 1:28.01 set by Nova Southeastern University.Silver went to Nova in 1:28.07 and the Bronze to Florida Tech in 1:28 .57 which had Grenadian Corey Ollivierre doing breaststroke duties

The 50 yard freestyle saw Nico setting a new personal best of 20.49 to place 4th in the B final.His 200 yard freestyle relay team placed fourth in 1:20.93. Campbell provided a third leg of 19.93

The meet would be a short one as injury struck. Campbell would speak to draftingthecaribbean about the meet on Feb 25 about the Conference Champs and the outlook for the NCAA Division II finals to be held in  Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, March 14-17

“My 50 free on the first day was not as fast as I wanted but I anchored the 200 medley relay to gold, so that was a really great achievement. I knew my main focus was on the 200 freestyle and that was the event in which I was most likely going to make NCAAs. In the prelims I set a best time, booked my ticket to NCAAs and I was top seed for the final. Being as the morning went well and I had qualified for NCAAs, the final was all about having fun with the race and trying to get gold, to score maximum points for my team, which I did. I’m honored to say that I’m the Sunshine State Conference 200 freestyle champion. However, on day 3 I did not have a swim. I was counting for a teammate in the 500 and I had a back spasm being that I was unable to complete the rest of the meet. I was disappointed, upset and annoyed knowing that I would have to be spectating the rest of the meet. But now the focus is on getting a quick recovery and looking forward to heading to Greensboro, North Carolina for the NCAA’s”

Florida Southern Men placed second overall with 802 points. Nova won with 876



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 fscmocs.com

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 funkytrunks.com

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.


Gunning on way to breaking national freestyle mark
Michael Gunning on his way to a new national record in the 200 scm freestyle


Michael Gunning pressed his case for inclusion on the 2018 Commonwealth Games team when he lowered the national records in the 200 metre butterfly and 200 metre freestyle at the British University and College Sports Short Course Swimming Championships held from November 10 to 12.

The meet held in a 25 metre pool at the Ponds Forge in Sheffield saw the University of East London student qualifying for the 200 metre freestyle with a time of 1:50.71. The final would see him finishing 4th in a new personal best time of 1:48.28.

Gunning reacts to setting new national record
Gunning reacts to his new national record


That swim, which is his best placing at the Championship, bettered the previous national record of 1:49.11 by distance king Dominic Walter. Dominic had set the previous mark at the Canadian Inter university Championships on February 26, 2016.

Analysis of national records swims by Gunning and Walters

Gunning Walter
25.40 25.80
27.09 27.46
27.85 28.06
27.94 27.79
1:48.28 1:49.11


With that championship final performance Gunning now owns the national records in the both the short course and long course (50 metre pool) .The long course record stands at 1:50.00  set at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest Hungary this past summer.


Michael would not be finished with his record breaking exploits as he lowered another Walter standard, this time in the 200 metre butterfly. He finished 11th in the event in a time of 2:05.12 (split time 59.28). His swim lowered the 2:05.55  Walter recorded on Feb 7, 2013 at the Ontario University Championships. With that swim he again achieved the national record double in both 25 metre and long course formats.

Gunning fly
Michael Gunning in his record breaking swim in April

Michael’s long course metre record stands at 1:59.83 from the British Championships held on April 19 of this year.

He also competed in the 100 metre butterfly where he placed 21st in a time of 56.61 (split time 26.48)

When draftingthecaribbean spoke the Early Childhood Studies Major today he spoke about his record swims and his quest for Commonwealth Games qualification

“I’m over the moon to break those records last weekend!!I’m still in the middle of my hardest cycle yet and to break those records whilst feeling this tired and fatigued it makes me super excited to see what’s to come. My coach and I have sat down and we are trying to compete at lots of different competitions and race in different events whilst I’m tired as it’s all to get my body use to stepping up when it matters most no matter how tired I am, so when it comes to the Commonwealth Games next year when I am fresh and rested it will come natural to me”.

Michael is seeking to be a part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Team. In 2014 Jamaica was represented by Six swimmers Three women and Three Men .That squad had Eight top 16 performances  including medals  a Silver and a Bronze won by Atkinson in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke races. With Jamaican swimming improving since 2014 a team of the same size at least should be expected . The 2018 squad should see  Commonwealth Games record holder  Alia Atkinson in action in Melbourne . Other hopefuls for the team include

Women Men
Breanna Roman Nico Campbell
Kelsie Campbell Xavier Phillips
Sidrell Williams
Bryce Butler
Joseph Black
Keanan Dols


Nico Campbell Silver medallist 200 yard freestyle Photo courtesy of Jim Hogue

Jamaica was represented by Florida Southern College sophomore Nico Campbell and Florida Institute of Technology freshman Bryce Butler at the 2017 Sunshine State Conference Championships in Orlando Florida from February 16 to 19.

Campbell would come away with 5 medals at his 2nd Conference Championships and all personal bests in his individual events.

The 200 yard freestyle saw the former national record holder in the 200 metre freestyle winning Silver. He went from a season and personal best of 1:39.08 to new personal best of 1:38.24 (split time 48.66). The final saw him shaving off .01 of a second to record a time of 1:38.23 to finish just behind winner Franco Lupoli of Nova Southeastern University 1:37.91.

800 yard freestyle Silver medallists from left to right Luka Planic,Matthew Holmes,Noah Franz and Nico Campbell Photo courtesy of Jim Hogue

He would defeat Lupoli in the 800 yard freestyle relay .Both men would lead off their respective A teams. In that opening stanza it would be Nico who would get his hand to the wall first and have the fastest opening leg 1:38.20 to 1:38.22, yet another personal best. Nova would however win the event in 6:30.97. Nico’s teammates Noah Franz 1:38.56, Matthew Holmes 1:37.25 and Luka Planic 1:38.65 contributed to Silver medal winning effort of 6:33.55.

The 200 yard freestyle relay team of Diego Gimenez 20.44, Marco Palacios 19.94, Franz 20.10 and Campbell 20.09 helped the Moccasins to the Silver medal in a time of 1:20.57.

There would be yet another Silver medal in the 200 yard medley relay. This time the team composition would be Palacios backstroke 21.83, Sean Kim 25.43, Gimenez butterfly 21.35 and Campbell freestyle 20.16. The clock would register an overall team effort of 1:28.82.

400 yard freestyle relay Bronze medallists from left to right Diego Gimenez ,Nico Campbell, Noah Franz and Matthew Holmes Photo coourtesy of Jim Hogue

The 400 yard freestyle relay team of Franz 44.56,Campbell 44.58,Holmes 45.07 and Gimenez 43.48 accounted for the Bronze medal in the event with a total team time of 2:57.69.

In the 100 yard freestyle ,the Exercise Science Major lowered both his season best of 45.48 and personal record of 45.28 in the morning heats to 45.03 (split time 21.66). That earned him a second swim in the B final .In that race he was able to record his first sub 45 time with a 3rd place finish of 44.96 (split time 21.44).

In the 50 yard freestyle Campbell recorded a personal best of 20.72 in the heats. That bettered his season best of 20.84. It also beat personal record of 20.81 that he registered when he placed 17th at the 2016 edition of the Conference Championships. That time put him in the B final where he was again faster. He finished 5th in a time of 20.59 well under the NCAA Division II B time of 20.83.

Nico spoke to draftingthecaribbean about his performances at the Conference Championships

Overall it was a good meet for me. I made finals in every event I swam, which scored points for the team, and I achieved best times in all my events, which was one of my meet goals. I knew there was a chance to be in the top 5 in the 200 freestyle but I didn’t think I would finish second by a close amount. I am now part of the Florida Southern Mocs national team that will be traveling to Birmingham, Alabama for the Division II NCAA championships to be held from March 8-11”.

CARIFTA region teammates at FIT from left to right Jamaican Bryce Butler and The Bahamas Drew Bastian

His countryman and teammate on the 2015 CARIFTA team that competed in Barbados, Bryce Butler competed in his Conference for the FIT Panthers. Swimming exhibition only Butler, a Biomedical Engineering student recorded personal best times in the in 50 yard freestyle 23.06, 100 yard butterfly 56.80 and 200 yard breaststroke 2:21.73. In the 100 yard breaststroke he was just off his personal best of 1:01.72 with a 1:02.01 clocking.When Butler spoke to draftingthecaribbean he had the following thoughts

“Coming off an injury of fractured toes I didn’t expect to do best times..I’m looking forward to next year where I hope to post better times”.

The Moccasins finished 2nd in the men’s competition with 841 points. The Panthers were 4th with 603 points.