DANIEL MAIR CREATES HISTORY FOR JAMAICA WITH FIRST CCCAN OPEN WATER MEDAL

When the CCCAN open water swimming competition concluded in Aruba history was created for Jamaica as Daniel Mair became the first ever medallist in this discipline .This as he won the Silver medal in the 12-13 age group in the 3K event held at Mangel Halto.

Dols Open water 2015
Michelle Dols 2015 CARIFTA 15-17 5K Open Water Silver medallist Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

 

Prior to this the only medals won in  age group competition was  Dominic Walter who won the Silver in the 5 K event at the now defunct Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships  at the 2010 edition in Cuba in a time of 104.5.33 ,Michelle Dols who earned a Silver medal in the 2015 in the 5K event at CARIFTA in Barbados and Annabella Lyn who won CARIFTA Bronze at home in Jamaica in the same event this year.

Anna 5K Bronze Jamaica
Annabella Lyn CARIFTA 2018 15-17 5K Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

 

Dominic Walter 2011
Dominic Walter 2010 CISC 14-17 5k Open Water Silver medallist

 

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Mair on July 18 he spoke about qualification for the competition as well events of the day of the swim from getting off the bus to the actual race

PREPARATION 

“The truth is I really wasn’t trying to qualify for CCCAN Open Water. In an effort to improve on my 1500 metre freestyle free I achieved a time that qualified me for the  open water event. So training for the open water event had to be somewhat of a crash course as it was going to be my first time. I trained at Port Royal three Sunday mornings with a group of adults who knew how to swim open water, and sometimes with competitive swimmers. We swam between 1,000-3,000 metres up and down the shoreline. I also did one session in the pool where I learned how to start, turnaround the buoys and spot . One of my main objectives during training was getting over my fear of what lives in the sea and I would say after my first training session in the ocean I quickly overcame that fear. I am 100% sure that these sessions helped my performance”.

ANTICIPATION

“When I got out of the bus and went to look at the course, it was a lot larger than I expected and honestly that made me very nervous. Also that morning I had to go through many different stages to get ready for the race. For instance, I had to go to a medical check, cut my nails, get my number put on me, Vaseline my body, put my tracker on, and all of this was happening very fast and everybody was frantic and trying to get everything done.It was a bit distracting at the time but a few minutes before the race I just tuned everything out and focused on my race and doing my best”.

Mair in action H wilson
Daniel Mair in action during the 3K Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

EVOLUTION OF THE RACE

“So as I mentioned already the track looked very large in real life, it was a rectangle and one lap around it would be equal to 1 km so we had to do three laps And at the time it seemed like a lot. My start was not very good because I didn’t know what was going on so when they blew the whistle to go I was confused and started at the back of the pack. As I settled I was able to secure a second place spot. First place seemed out of reach because the person in first place had gone way before me from the start. In the first quarter of the first lap I was racing a Trinidadian girl and she fell back quite quickly and after she fell back Aruban Ronald Fun  caught up to me and for about two laps we were staying head to head. He was in front of me sometimes, I was in front of him sometimes but after the second lap he fell back and I went forward. After the second lap I felt really good, I started to warm up and as a result my legs started to feel energized and ready to kick so I kicked and pulled and I just went all out on the third lap and when I saw the finish on the last quarter I just went full speed and when I touched that pad I gave it my all”.

Daniel Mair with Mom
Daniel celebrating his Silver medal medal performance with mother Jodi Photo courtesy of C.C.C.AN

HISTORY CREATED

“When I got out of the ocean and walked back up to my coach and mom  I was glad  that the race was finally over and I could rest because CCCAN was now officially over. I went up to my coach and my mom and sat down, took some deep breaths, drank some water and relaxed and I looked over to my coach. She showed me my time and my placement and I asked her if that was a silver medal and she said yes.  I was very happy. Later on I was awarded the medal and that’s when it clicked. That I had won an individual medal at CCCAN and that every long, hard distance set that I had done in training had finally paid off”.

 

The medal podium saw Trinidad and Tobago’s Nikoli Blackman topping the event with a time of 45.15.01 , Mair the Silver in 48.11.73 and Fun the Bronze in 48.55.95.

12-13 CCCAN open water
Medallists in the 12-13 3K event from left to right Mair Silver medallist, Nikoli Blackman of Trinidad and Tobago Gold Medallist and Aruban Ronald Fun Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of C.C.C,A.N

 

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NIGEL FORBES STANDS TALL AT CCCAN,WINS REGIONAL BREASTSTROKE TRIPLE CROWN (UNANA,CARIFTA AND CCCAN TITLES) EN ROUTE TO FIVE GOLD AND TWO SILVER

At the recently concluded CCCAN swimming Championships held in Aruba Nigel Forbes continued his epic season in an 11-12 age group division which was brimming with talent. Forbes stood tall among his peers in the breaststroke for 2018 and was unbeaten for the season in that stroke .

50 metre breaststroke medallists
50 metre breaststroke medallists from left to right Blackman, Forbes and Trejos Photo courtesy of CCCAN

It would be the 50 metre breaststroke in  which he would make put together a masterpiece of a swim .Already the fastest Bahamian 11-12 breaststroker of all time with 32.54 he now had his sights on the 2005 CCCAN record of Panamanian Arturo Medina of 32.42 .That time tied Bermudan Sam Williamson 11-12 national mark of 32.42 as the second fastest of all time in the CCCAN region. The unofficial record was held by  Aruba Jordy Groters at 32.41. Things looked promising for young Forbes when he clocked the fastest time of the preliminaries of 32.99. In the championship Final Forbes  took off from the sounding of the starter’s gun and was more than a body length of the field by the 25 metre mark.With the question of the Gold answered what needed to be determined was what the record would be lowered to . Forbes continued to blaze towards the wall and slapped the pads in a time of 32.15 , a new PB, Bahamian , CCCAN Championship  record and he can officially hold the moniker of the fastest the region had ever seen in the event. Winning the Silver was Trinidad and Tobago Nikoli Blackman in 34.74 and the Bronze to Edu Trejos in 34.75. It was this event that he created history for the CARIFTA region by winning the first ever Gold medal at the  inaugural UANA Championships so it is fitting that he would take the regional Triple Crown UANA , CARIFTA and CCCAN titles in the fastest swim of all time.

Forbes 11-12 Gold
Nigel Forbes of The Bahamas First Gold Medallist for The Bahamas and the CARIFTA region 11-12 breaststroke Gold at the 2018 UANA cup
UANA 34.20
CARIFTA 34.05
CCCAN 32.15

The 100 metre breaststroke would see Nigel putting another show of scintillating speed.As with the 50 metre breaststroke he was already the best The Bahamas had ever produced with his 1:12.24 clocking from the REV nationals and was within a hair’s breadth of the CCCAN record time of 1:12.18 set by  Olympian Carlos  Claverie of Venezuela  (Rio 2016) .

Carlos Claverie panamerican world
Carlos Claverie waving to the crowd after being presented with Bronze medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics Photo courtesy of panamericanworld

Claverie  won Bronze at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing China in the 100 metre breaststroke in a time of 1:01.56.

After easing into the final with a time of 1:14.78  he decided to turn on the thrills in the final. When the race started Nigel again separated himself by some distance by the halfway mark turning in 33.13, a split that would have would the Silver in the 50 metre race. He kept applying the pressure and touched in a new PB,Bahamian record and CCCAN Championship record of 1:11.16.  Forbes is now the fastest ever swimmer the CARIFTA region has produced in the event.He just missed the unofficial CCCAN 2014 record of 1:10.94 held by Puerto Rico’s Daniel Chevere. The win also marked another Triple Crown performance ( UANA, CARIFTA and CCCAN). Silver went to Panamanian Trejos in 1:13.24 and Blackman won Bronze in 1:16.24.

Event Time Split
UANA 1:15.07 35.40
CARIFTA 1:15.81 35.50
CCCAN 1:11.16 33.13
boys 11-12 200 metre breaststroke medal podium
Boys 11-12 200 metre breaststroke medallists from left to right Trejos, Forbes and Bonati Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

The 200 metre breaststroke which was Forbes first individual race saw a colossal battle between himself and Trejos. The Panamian started the race with a split of 35.67 followed by Nigel with a 36.50 . They were the only swimmers under 37 seconds for the first 50 metres and well ahead of the rest of the field. Nigel kept closing the gap on Edu until he was ahead by .01 ahead of him coming off the final wall.

Forbes pushing for Gold in the 200 breast
Forbes pushing for Gold in the 200 metre breaststroke Photo courtesy of CCCAN

 

He then stepped on the gas to take the win in a new PB and Bahamas record 2:36.00.  Forbes just missed another Claverie standard of 2:35.89 but is now the fastest ever 11-12 200 metre breaststroke swimmer from the CARIFTA region. Edu was close behind winning Silver in 2:36.32. Bronze went to Stefan Bonati of the Cayman Islands in 2:49.08.

Boys 11-12 100 metre butterfly podium
Boys 11-12 100 metre butterfly podium from left to right Wilson,Forbes and Gossmann Photo courtesy of CCCAN

There would be more Gold for Forbes in Aruba in the sprint butterfly events. In the 100 metre butterfly he won the Gold based on a strong back half. This, as he was behind at the 50 metre mark as the early leaders Christopher Gossmann of Guatemala 29.23 and Trinidad and Tobago standout Zarek Wilson 29.44. Nigel’s split was 30.05. He however provided the fastest last 50 metres to take the Gold in 1:01.95 a new PB and Bahamian record taking almost a second off the 2014 Evante Gibson standard of 1:02.83 .that completed the regional Golden Double as he won the CARIFTA Gold in 1:04.05 earlier this year in Kingston. Silver went to Wilson in a new PB of 1:02.16 and the Bronze to Gossmann in 1:02.23.The same trio finished in the exact same order earlier at the UANA cup with times of 1:03.34,1:03.48 and 1:04.19 respectively

CARIFTA 1:04.09 30.47
CCCAN 1:01.95 30.05
boys 11-12 50 metre medal podium
Boys 11-12 50 metre butterfly medal podium from left to right Sealy, Forbes and Gossmann Photo courtesy of CCCAN

In the 50 metre butterfly he posted the only sub 28 seconds time in the final to win 27.73. Omari Sealy of Barbados took the Silver in 28.17 and Gossman 28.25. He holds the national record at 27.67.

100 freestyle podium 11-12 boys
Boys 11-12 100 metre freestyle medal podium from left to right Forbes,Blackman and Johnson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

In the 100 metre freestyle he dipped under the 58 seconds barrier for the first time to win Silver in a PB and national record time 57.79.Gold went to Blackman in 57.61 and the Bronze to his teammate Marvin Johnson in 58.75. The old 11-12 record of 57.99 belonged to Lamar Taylor .

 

11-12 mixed 200 metre freestyle relay
11-12 mixed 200 metre freestyle relay medallists from left to right The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and the Cayman Islands Phoot courtesy of Harold Wilson

There would be another Silver for Forbes and Team Bahamas in the 200 metre mixed freestyle relay.The team of Johnson (27.98),Keianna Moss (28.72) ,Devin Cuffy-Bethel 28.98 and Forbes (25.76) stopped the clock in 1:50.64 just behind Team Trinidad and Tobago 1:50.29 .The Bronze went to the Cayman Islands in 1:52.64. Nigel placed 9th in the 400 metre freestyle.

When draftingthecaribbean contacted the young swimmer he gave his thoughts on his breaststroke Gold medals . He said that he felt great about all the breaststroke races his favourite was the 100 metre race. When questioned about the 200 metre event if he knew about the record and if he could have gone faster he said he did not think he could have gone any faster because he had great competition from his Panamanian competitor (Edu Trejos) and he gave it his all. Forbes now owns 7 of the 16 individual Bahamian national records for the 11-12 age group

Event Record
100 metre freestyle 57.79
50 metre breaststroke 32.15
100 metre breaststroke 1:11.16
200 metre breaststroke 2:36.00
50 metre butterfly 27.67
100 metre butterfly 1:01.95
400 metre IM 5:18.05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIRST ATTEMPT AT 800 METRE FREESTYLE RESULTS IN NATIONAL AGE GROUP RECORD FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S NIKOLI BLACKMAN

One of the young stars emerging from CARIFTA 2018 in the 11-12 age group was Trinidad and Tobago’s Nikoli Blackman who continued his excellent form at the National Long Course Open championships held last month at the National Aquatic Centre in Balmain Couva. He had a national age group record breaking swim in the 800 metre freestyle. What made the feat even more remarkable was that it was the young swimmer’s first attempt swimming the grueling event.
Competing in the open mixed 800 metre freestyle on May 10 Blackman  won Silver in 9:23.30 lowering the old age group mark of 9:29.06 by Kael Yorke. That record was set back in 2013. The Gold was won by local distance star Graham Chatoor in 8:53.06 who is his final year of the 15-17 age group. The Bronze was won by Delroy Tyrell who is in his first year of the 15-17 age group in a time of 9:53.78. Third person overall in the race however was Graham’s sister Jada who stopped the clock in 9:26.70

Nikoli Blackman CARIFTA 2018
Blackman concentrating before his race at CARIFTA 2018 in Kingston Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Blackman ,while competing in Kingston at CARIFTA swam 3900 metres on his way to winning 12 medals, Three Gold, Eight Silver and One Bronze in 16 events. The versatile athlete has been named to the 2018 CCCAN team in both the pool and open water events.

Nikoli Blackman moments after setting a new 11-12 800 free national record
Blackman moments after setting a new 11-12 800 free national record Photo courtesy of Dinnora Anthony

When draftingthecaribbean contacted Nikoli he gave his opinion about his performance

“When CARIFTA ended I had to reduce my training from 9 sessions per week to 5 as I had to prepare for the Secondary Entrance Assessment Exams (SEA). Though my fitness was down a bit my strategy for the race was to work my kick and try and stay ahead of my teammate, Jada Chatoor, who was in the lane next to me.  I was aware of the record as My Dad and I have discussed it for a while now. When the race was over I was happy to see that I had lowered the record from 9:29.06 to 9:23.30”.

ZAREK WILSON LEADS STRONG 11-12 AGE GROUP TO BE A MAJOR FORCE IN TEAM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S MEDAL COUNT AT CARIFTA 2018

The recently concluded 2018 CARIFTA Championships saw a very strong contingent from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago dominating the 11-12 age group in Kingston.The 11-12 team included Nikoli Blackman,Zoe Anthony,Joy Blackett,Gabrielle Vickles,Josiah Changar,Amelia Rajack,Savannah Chee-Wah, Stachys Harley,Nieshelah Caseman, Caitlyn Look Fong ,Sheni St Hilaire and Zarek Wilson.

Team TTO 11-12
TEAM TTO 11-12 swimmers at CARIFTA 2018 Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

They were also the major force behind the squad earning 19 Gold 19 Silver and 7 Bronze as the youngsters hauled in 15 Gold, 14 Silver and Two Bronze.

Team TTO opening ceremony
Team Trinidad and Tobago at the opening ceremony Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

In the relays Team TTO did not place below Silver for any relay and fittingly they won the 400 mixed freestyle relay . The team of Anthony , Changar ,Chee-Wah and  Blackman swam under the old Championship record of 4:10.82  twice, in the heats 4:05.25 and final 4:08.60.

young 11-12 female
11-12 400 medley relay Silver medallist from left to right Zoe Anthony, Caitlyn Look Fong, Neishelah Caseman, Savannah Chee-Wah Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

 

T and T Gold medal
400 medley relay Gold medallists from left to right Josiah Changar, Nikoli Blackman, Stachys Harley, Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

The 11-12’s got their CARIFTA 2018 off on a Golden note as Zoe Anthony won the 200 metre breaststroke in a time of 2:53.55

Zoe Anthony competing in the heats of the 200 mtre breatstroke
Zoe Anthony competing in the heats of the 200 metre breaststroke Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Leading the medal charge for the 11-12 age group was Zarek Wilson who won 13 Gold medals and set a CARIFTA record in the 400 metre freestyle on his way to winning  the high point trophy .

Elan and Zarek hrold wilson photos
11-12 high point winners girls and boys Elan Daley of Bermuda and Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

In many of 11-12  victories for the boys Team TTO delivered a one –two punch for the boys as Wilson and his countryman Nikoli Blackman set a pace that gave their competitors too much to handle.

Blackman and Wilson
Nikoli Blackman and Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Wilson and he gave us his thoughts

“After Carifta 2017 where I won 2 individual bronze and 2 relay golds I was both satisfied and disappointed at the same time.  Satisfied to have qualified for Carifta after competing at the Goodwill level for several years.  Disappointed because I wanted to achieve so much more.  After the Bahamas, I was able to train more consistently and pay more attention to my dryland exercises, since the Secondary Entrance Exam was now behind me.

Zarek Wilson
Zarek Wilson Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

This year in Jamaica I was satisfied with what I had achieved, especially since this was my final year of the 11-12 age group.My coach, Edmund Pouchet, expanded my swim program, adding new events like the 400 metre  freestyle and 400 metre  individual medley.  These two events ended up being memorable.  The 400 metre freestyle was a battle with my friend Nikoli Blackman.  We both went under the Championship record (4:29.92 Samson Boileau Guadeloupe), but I was able to out touch him at the end (4:27.78 to 4:27.89).

Zarek with Landon Von Kanel trophy
Wilson with the Landon Von Kanel trophy for the 11-12 swimmer who wins both the 200 and 400 metre freestyle races. It is awarded in honour of Von Kanel who was a top swimmer from The Cayman Islands who left us too soon Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

And the 400 metre individual medley was on the back end of a triple, which  included the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.  Head Coach Shawn Pouchet really encouraged me when I was feeling tired.  He reminded that I had actually been been practicing for days like this.  His encouragement paid off for me.  Even though it was painful, I was able to persevere and gain my third personal best of the day  (5:10.41).

Blackman and Wilson preparing to race
Zarek and Nikoli preparing to race Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

 

CARIFTA in Jamaica was a really enjoyable experience for me. The atmosphere was great and I was happy to share the podium with my team mate and friend Nikoli on multiple occasions.  We have been swimming, competing and having fun together since we were  6 or 7 years old. Now that CARIFTA is over, I am preparing for CCCAN in Aruba.  After that I will sit down with my coach, Edmund Pouchet, and begin planning for next year, which will be my first year in the 13-14 age group”.