Howard University celebrated winning a Gold medal at the CCSA Champs in the 100 yard freestyle last night. The victory came courtesy of Jamaica’s Sidrell Williams who the event in a new personal best and school record of 44.61.

Williams 100 free CCSA
Sidrell Williams of the 100 yard freestyle at the 2018 CCSA Champs Photo courtesy of Coastal Collegiate Sports Association

Already the school record holder in the event with a time of 45.22 (split time 21.82) when he won Gold at the Randolph Macon Yellow Jacket Invitational in Richmond Virginia Williams threatened that mark when he touched in 45.41 (split time 21.82) in the morning heats. In the final Sidrell trailed 50 yard freestyle Silver medallist Eli Coan of Gardner-Webb 21.39 to 21.43. It was at that point Williams took off and recorded the fastest last half of 23.18 to pull away and win in 44.61. Silver went to 50 yard freestyle champion Harp Parker of Old Dominion 44.91 and Bronze went to Zach Dingfield of Gardner-Webb in 44.95 , he also won Bronze in the 50 yard freestyle.

Jules Graham Linkedin
Jules Graham Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

The last time Howard University tasted victory in the event was when Trinidad and Tobago’s Jules Graham won the event in 2010 in 45.88.

HU 400 free relay team 2018
Record breaking Bison 400 yard freestyle relay from left to right Brazelton,Ford,Williams and Haughton Photo courtesy of Howard University swimming and Diving

The record breaking trend would continue in the 400 yard freestyle relay as the team of Trinidad and Tobago’s Kegan Ford 47.29, Don Brazelton 46.54 and Jamaican Nicholas Haughton 46.75 and Sidrell Williams 45.85 lowered the record of 3:06.44 set by the 2009 CCSA team that included Jules Graham.

Leanne McMaster recorded her fastest collegiate time in the 100 yard freestyle of 54.55 (split time 26.05) and equaled her personal best time set back in 2016 when at Baylor.She placed 33rd in the event.

Haughton recorded 47.75 (split time 22.89) for a season best and highest CCSA placing of 20th in the 100 yard freestyle.

Bonner CCSA
Mattheau Bonner in action for NJIT Highlanders at the 2018 CCSA Champs Photo courtesy of Coastal Collegiate Sports Association

Mattheau Bonner of New Jersey Institute of Technology recorded a personal best in the 200 yard butterfly to place 18th overall in 1:53.83 (split time 54.14).

Liberty University Danielle boothe
Danielle Boothe Photo courtesy of Liberty University Swimming and diving

Danielle Boothe of Liberty University recorded a time of 2:05.00 (split time 1:00.45) in the 200 yard backstroke.

Howard freshman Keith-Jordan Wilkinson split 50.52 on the Bison B 400 yard freestyle team that finished with a time of 3:15.58.






Friday’s session at the CCSA on Feb 16 saw Jamaica’s Sidrell Williams as a member of yet another school record setting relay team  and his countrymen recording personal bests.


In the 400 yard medley relay the Howard team of Don Brazelton backstroke 52.43,Speakman Smith 56.85,Alexander Barnes 51.31 and Williams 44.70 recording a new school record of 3:25.29 to place fifth. The old record of 3:27.84 was set at last year’s championship.

Earlier in the day Williams was just off his PB in the 100 yard butterfly finishing 19th  in 50.85 (split time 24.11).

Teammate Nicholas Haughton recorded a personal best in the 200 yard freestyle by more than a second when he touched the wall in 1:44.91(split time 49.86). That placed him 17th overall his highest finish ever after placing 22nd in 2017 and 24th in 2016.

Leanne McMaster recorded a new personal best in the 100 yard breaststroke clocking 1:07.20 (split time 31.11) to make the C Final in the event. That time is her fastest ever collegiate time and erases the 1:07.28 she swam while a student at Baylor. In the final she was just off that performance placing fourth in 1:07.44 (split time 31.11). Her morning heats time is now third fastest time in Bison history.

Freshman Keith-Jordan Wilkinson recorded a new personal best of 1:01.79 (split time 29.43) to place 26th in the 100 yard breaststroke.

Another Jamaican Mattheau Bonner representing New Jersey Institute of Technology placed 25th in the 100 yard butterfly in a time of 51.79 (split time 24.22)




Jamaica’s Sidrell Williams continued to lower school records for Howard University at the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Championship CCSA in Athens Georgia on Thursday Feb 15 .

Sidrell mike clyn
Sidrell Williams Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

On Thursday he became the fastest swimmer at the Washington based institution when he clocked 20.55 in the morning preliminaries.

Gayle Howard 2nd
Chris Gayle 2nd left Photo courtesy of Chris Gayle

In posting that time he lowered the nearly 30 year old record another Jamaican Chris Gayle. The old record was set in Dec 1989 when Gayle stopped the clock in 20.76.  In the final Williams was again under the old standard when he recorded 20.64 to finish 4th. The Bronze was won by Zach Dingfield 20.49 of Gardner-Webb University , his teammate Eli Coan won the Silver in 20.38 and Gold to Harp Parker of Old Dominion of 20.35. Sidrell Williams was the first Bison finalist in the event since Zadook Isaacs placed 8th in 2013.

When draftingthe Caribbean spoke to Gayle about that record swim he shared the following thoughts

Gayle Howard 3
Chris Gayle receiving medal at US Swimming Senior Nationals as a member of the 400 yard medley relay Photo courtesy of Chris Gayle

“It was December 1989 at the Oakmar Rec Center in Virginia.At the time, I broke the school record I was more thrilled at winning the race. It was at a club meet at the end of our college season and Coach Eric Howard entered us in the meet to see if we could lower our times since we were already rested and tapered.

It was a brilliant move and some of our competitors were in high school. I thank God first for the ability to swim that fast and blessing me with a swimming coach who saw my potential even when I did not. To this day, his words encourage me. He would always say, Chris Gayle – you are a world class swimmer. I was truly embarrassed by him saying that especially around people.   He however I now realize was casting vision. I have since then thanked him for believing in me and working us (the entire team) hard to achieve beyond what we ever dreamed.  We won our conference my freshman and sophomore years due to his gifted guidance.I congratulate the young man who has broken the record and I encourage him to continue to pursue the impossible.  All things are possible to them that believe.

More speed would be on display by the Bison in the 200 yard freestyle relay. The team of Trinidad and Tobago’s Kegan Ford 21.49, Alexander Barnes 21.04, Maalik Nixon 21.20 and Williams 20.39 recorded a time of 1:24.12 to place fifth overall. That bettered the 1:24.18 time done by the 2017 CCSA team.

Haughton CCSA 2018
Nicholas Haughton Photo courtesy of Howard University Swimming and Diving

Teammate Nicholas Haughton just missed a second swim in the 500 yard freestyle when he placed 17th in a season best of 4:49.20.His Bison 200 yard freestyle B team recorded a time of  1:25.66 .Nicholas had a third leg split of 21.66.

Keith Jordan Wilkinson
Keith-Jordan Wilkinson Photo courtesy of Howard University

Another Jamaican Bison Keith Jordan Wilkinson was 31st in the 50 yard freestyle in a PB of 22.42.His 200 yard freestyle relay team clocked 1:30.21 with Keith Jordan with a second leg split of 22.32 and Bahamian Farion Cooper anchoring in 22.03.

McMaster CCSA
Leanne McMaster Photo courtesy of Howard University

Leanne McMaster recorded a PB of 24.98 to place 47th in the 50 yard freestyle. Her Bison 200 yard freestyle relay team recorded a season best of 1:37.47 for 9th. Leanne’s second leg split was 24.50.

Countryman Mattheau Bonner led off the New Jersey Institute of Technology B team with a split of 22.78. They finished with a total time of 1:28.76



The  CCSA (Coastal College Sports Association)Champs got underway at the Gabrielson Natatorium in Athens Georgia on Feb 14 and saw Jamaican Sidrell Williams helping his Howard University to a new school record.

Sidrell Howard picture
Sidrell Wiliams Photo courtesy of Johnson

The Howard University Bison team of Don Brazelton backstroke 23.63,Speakman Smith breaststroke, Alexander Barnes butterfly 22.65 and Williams 20.23 freestyle recorded a time of 1:32.33 to place fifth. That bettered the record of 1:33.71 recorded at the 2017 CCSA Championships when that team recorded 1:33.71. It also bettered their 6th place finish.


Mattheau_Bonner NJIT
Mattheau Bonner Photo courtesy of

Countryman Mattheau Bonner representing New Jersey Institute of Technology clocked 23.06 on his butterfly to help them to fifth in 1:33.44.

Nicholas Haughton Howard University Swimming and Diving website
Nicholas Haughton courtesy of Howard University Swimming and Diving

Nicholas Haughton, a fellow Howard University student anchored the 800 yard freestyle relay team with a split of 1:44.58 to help them to sixth in a time of 7:06.67. That is the fourth fastest time in school history.

Leanne McMaster Photo courtesy of Gillian Haughton

Teammate and country woman Leanne McMaster anchored the ladies 200 medley relay with a freestyle split of 24.43 for a total time of 1:48.12 for ninth overall. That just missed the school record of 1:47.77 set at last year’s conference Champs where McMaster performed anchor leg duties as well.




At the two day Yellow Jacket Invitational which ran from Dec 1-2 Jamaica’s Sidrell Williams put up his hand up to get attention of  the selection panel for overseas international competition with a strong return to form setting two school records for Howard and recording personal bests in all his events.


Sidrell Howard picture
Sidrell Wiliams Photo courtesy of Johnson

The meet which was contested in a 25 yard pool at the Randolph-Macon College in Chesterfield Virginia saw Sidrell on the medal podium 7 times and breaking the school record in the 100 yard freestyle and as a member of the 400 yard medley relay team.

Sidrell and Tim Kazan 2015
Kazan 2015 World championship representatives from left to right Williams, member of Russian organizing committee Axinya Melekhova, Olympian Timothy Wynter Photo courtesy of Axinya Melekhova

In the 100 yard freestyle, Sidrell a 2015 World Championships representative bested the field by over a second to win the event in a time of 45.22 (split time 21.82). That crushed his personal best of 46.43 and lowered the Bison school record of 45.31 set by Jared Miller when he placed 3rd in the B final at the 2017 CCSA (Coastal College Sports Association Championships).

Williams, a graduate of the Wolmer’s Boys’ School would combine with Don Brazelton backstroke 53.21, William Smith breaststroke 58.19 and Alex Barnes butterfly 50.89 to place 2nd in the 400 yard medley relay in a time of 3:27.38. Sidrell provided the fastest anchor freestyle leg of 45.09. That downed the old school record of 3:27.84.

Xavier Philips Photo courtesy of

The old record stood at 3:27.84 set the 2017 CCSA and included on breaststroke leg duties Wolmer’s alumnus Xavier Phillips. In 2016 Williams was member of the CISC ( Caribbean Islands Swimming championships) team in the 18 and over category that set new national record in the 400 metre (50 metre pool )  medley relay of 3:58.77.

The freestyle sprint double would be completed when he took the win in the 50 in time of 20.79. It would be his first time under the 21 seconds barrier and just off the 1989 school record of 20.79 set by Chris Gayle. His previous personal standard stood at 21.33.

His Bison A team would place second in the 200 yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:26.01. It is the 3rd fastest time in school history .

2013 CARIFTa team
200 metre freestyle relay record holders from left to right Wynter, Jason -Craig Burnett, Cameron Chow and Williams

In 2013 Williams was a member of the CARIFTA team that set the 200 metre freestyle relay national record of 1:39.21.

His A team would post another top ten school time in the 400 yard freestyle relay. The team stopped the clock in 3:10.09 with Sidrell anchoring the team with the fastest time of the relays of 45.09.It would earn the Bison squad the runner up spot and the 3rd falsest time in programme history. In 2016 the 6’3 sophomore was member of the national record breaking team in the 400 metre freestyle relay that set the standard of 3:30.61.

Another 2nd place position would be earned in the 100 yard butterfly when he stopped the clock in a personal best of 50.47 (split time 23.60). He is now within sight of the school record of 49.80 set by Miller at the 2017 CCSA.

The 800 yard freestyle relay saw Williams recording the fastest opening leg and personal best of 1:44.21. That places him the 5th fastest Bison swimmer in the 200 yard freestyle of all time.

Nicholas Haughton Howard University Swimming and Diving website
Nicholas Haughton courtesy of Howard University Swimming and Diving

The team which included Jamaican Nicholas Haughton on second leg duties has total time of 7:06.57 that placed them 3rd and 4th overall in school history.

For his great performances in the pool Sidrell was named CCSA athlete of the week


Coach Nic Askew Howard Head Coach
Howard University Head Coach Nic Askew Photo courtesy of

Coach Nic Askew’s men topped the competition with 1333.5 points just edging out Washington College. The Bison ladies placed 5th overall.  Askew’s team which includes Caribbean student athletes Xavier Phillips, Orane Garrick, Keith –Jordan Wilkinson , Nicholas Haughton, Leanne Mc Master from Jamaica, Kegan Ford from Trinidad and Tobago, Farion Cooper and Andreas Weech from the Bahamas set 5 school records,12 overall personal bests, 91 season bests and one meet record.





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


Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

Jamaica’s fastest ever sprinter Justin Plaschka continues to etch his name further in the nation’s swimming history books. Already the quickest swimmer in short course yards (25 yards), short course metres (25 metres) and the long course pool (50 metres) he continues to solidify his top spot by recording the top time ever done by a Jamaican in all the meets he competes in. That trend started in his first meet, the 2015 CCCAN Championships in Barbados and continued at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming championships in The Bahamas and the 2016 World short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada. The 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest would just be a continuation of his hot streak.

He stroked his way to a time of 22.93 to place 49th overall. That performance is the fastest Jamaican time ever done at the World Championships. That bettered the 23.87 set by Brad Hamilton at the 2009 Rome Championships. The swim also marks the first time a Jamaican man has broken into the top 50 since 1994.  Justin also ranks as the fastest CARIFTA swimmer in Budapest and the 4th fastest amongst CCCAN sprinters

Justin Plaschka
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

Draftingthecaribbean spoke to Plaschka today and he gave his impressions on his performance and the Championship overall

“I was a little disappointed to not go a personal best but overall I executed my race strategy pretty well and was happy with that. My start wasn’t great which could have cost me a few tenths but other than that I could not complain. It was just an amazing experience to get to compete at world championships and all the experience it gave me is only going to help me hopefully in my future meets”.