Jamaica’s Breanna Roman won a Bronze medal last night Saturday Feb 17 in the 400 yard medley relay for Auburn at the SEC Southern Eastern Conference championships.
Competing at the Texas A&M Natatorium the Auburn Tigers relay team of Erin Falconer backstroke 52.48, Roman 59.83, Haley Black 50.69 and Julie Meynen freestyle 47.93 touched in 3:30.93. Silver went to Texas A&M in 3:29.40 and the Gold to Tennessee in 3:29.26. The team performance by Auburn is under the automatic qualifying standard of 3:32.67.It is also just off the Auburn school record of 3:30.32 set in the heats of the 2012 NCAA. That team included Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace on freestyle anchor leg duties.
Roman gave a sign of things to come earlier in the day when she made the B final for the second straight year She posted 1:00.98 (split time 28.46) to be the number one seed, just 0.38 outside of a second from making the final. Breanna who qualified for her first SEC Championships in 2017 had placed second then in the B final in 1:00.84 (split time 28.59). This year she would leave no doubts as to her intentions as she went out in 28.41 for the first 50 yards. There would be no catching her as she touched in a season best and NCAA B time of 1:00.41. That performance is the second fastest of her career. Her best stands at 59.99 from 2017.
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 .
On Thursday he became the fastest swimmer at the Washington based institution when he clocked 20.55 in the morning preliminaries.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 .
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
Day one of the Tennessee State Champs on Friday Feb 9 saw the CARIFTA region earning Two Gold medal from the Barbados Boys at Baylor Luis Sebastian Weekes and Jack Kirby.
Luis won his first individual Gold medal in his final high school meet in the 200 yard individual medley. He had set a new personal best of 1:51.36 (Split time 52.72) in the event at the SPEEDO Winter Nationals -East in December but would not be content with that in his final school meet. In the morning heats he cruised to the Championship final with a new PB of 1:50.99 (split time 52.45) to be the top seed. In the final he opened faster than in the preliminaries with butterfly split of 24.29 to be fourth. He then unleashed a 27.78 backstroke leg to take the lead and halfway split of 52.01 .Jack Hamilton of Webb tried to make a move with Weekes and stay close with his split of 52.34. As the boys from Baylor have shown they have superior back end speed and this would be no different Weekes pulled away on the breaststroke leg to gain a lead of more than a second then recorded the fastest freestyle leg of the meet of 26.35 to record yet another personal best of 1:50.22 to win by almost 2 seconds. Gabriel Johnson of Chattanooga Home School won Silver in 1:51.95 and Hamilton won the Bronze in 1:52.68. The Gold emphasized the great improvement Weekes has made in the last year as he finished 4th last year in 1:52.17. He now moves form 11th all time at Baylor to 4th and the number one CARIFTA region swimmer at the school.
The meet started with the CARIFTA connection of Kirby and Weekes providing the first half of the Gold medal winning 200 medley relay team.
In the preliminaries Kirby continued his great PB breaking streaking when he broke 23 seconds for the 50 yard backstroke for the first time. His previous best was 23.03 set leading off the relay team at the SPEEDO Winter Junior National Championships –East. Yesterday he rocketed to 22.65. In the final he was again under 23 seconds leading off in 22.82. Weekes provided a breaststroke split of 25.41 to give Baylor an insurmountable two second lead. Teammates Zach Althoff butterfly 21.96 and Piotr Kurleto freestyle 20.37 ensured that the team romped home to a more than two second win clocking 1:30.56. Maryville High won Silver in 1:33.99 and McCallie won Bronze with Jamaican Alex Mignott doing anchor leg duties in 1:34.78.
This win is the third fastest performance in Baylor history. The second fastest includes the quartet that had Kirby leading off at the 2017 Winter Junior Nationals that did 1:30.55. The fastest time at Baylor and the fastest high school performance is 1:27.74 from 2014 that included Bahamian Dustin Tynes and Barbadian Christian Selby. This is the first Gold medal for Baylor since the 2015 season where the team won in 1:32.20 and included Bahamian Gershwin Greene and Selby.
The first club meet of 2018 in Jamaica saw a number of meet records falling by the way side on the Day One of the 23rd edition of the Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Feb 2. As swimmers search for spots on the 2018 CARIFTA team it would be Britney Williams of the Swimaz Aquatics Club and Dominic Mullings of the Y Speedos Swim Club that defended their titles and set new marks in the distance events .
Williams, who is Jamaica’s fastest locally trained distance swimmer since Olympian Belinda Phillips (Munich 1972) made it two from two when she won the 800 metre freestyle in the 13- 24 age group for the second consecutive year. She won comprehensively in a new meet record of 10:14.67 more than 20 seconds ahead of her nearest rival. Her old 2017 standard stood at 10:22.37.Whe she spoke after the race she had the following thoughts
“It was not the best race I could have done based on my fitness level and the training I have been doing with my coach but it was ok I broke my meet record from last year. I need to work on my turns, start and finish. Going into CARIFTA my coach Lynval Lowe will be working on that. Preparation for CARIFTA is going really well. The times I did at the UANA Cup qualified me so I have to ensure I am in the top two now. I am looking forward what I will do at CARIFTA when I am tapered and in full competition mode”. Williams was a member of the 2017 CARIFTA “Golden Girls” that won all the relays in the 15-17 age group in The Bahamas.
Mullings also broke his 2017 meet record in the 1500 metre freestyle in 18:36.67. That bettered his old standard of 18:39.54.He also won by over ten seconds. He spoke about the race to Draftingthecaribbean last night
“I think I did well I did a personal best and broke the record which is pretty good for me. I am working on qualifying for CARIFTA I have not made any of the qualifying marks as yet but I am currently trying my best and I think it is going to be a good season”.
Christanya Shirley of the Marlins Swim club set new meet records in the 9-10 50 metre butterfly and 100 metre freestyle races with swims of 33.06 and 1:09.88 respectively.
Jordan Hines and Zaneta Alvaranga were crowned the fastest swimmers of the meet with their wins in the 50 metre freestyle races in the 13-124 age group. Alvaranga of the Kaizen Swim club took the title in 27.53. Hines of the Tornadoes Swim club won in 25.01.
Posting two victories on the night were Victoria van der Leer who the 8 and under girls 100 metre freestyle and 50 metre butterfly in personal best efforts of 1:30.54 and 46.01. Josh Johnson in the 9-10 age group recorded a personal best in the 100 metre freestyle in 1:13.50 and then took the 50 metre butterfly in 36.97.
The final day of competition at the UANA Cup at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex on Jan 21 saw Keianna Moss of The Bahamas and Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago earning medals .
Moss added to the 100 metre backstroke Bronze she had won earlier in the competition when she won the Silver in the 50 metre backstroke in 33.71. The Gold went to Luiza Lima of Brazil in 33.30 and the Bronze to Emilia Julieta Gutierrez Merino of Mexico in 34.16. When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her after the race she had the following thoughts
“In the 50 backstroke I got Silver I executed my race how my coach wanted me to but on my start I went a little too deep. I missed by PB by hundredths of a second. I am proud to bring home the Silver for The Bahamas”.
Zoe Anthony of Trinidad and Tobago showed grit and determination to win her first medal of the competition in the last individual race of the meet , the 50 metre butterfly .Anthony had a number near misses before stepping on to the medal podium stopping the clock in 31.44 to win Bronze. Silver went to Paraguay’s Astrid Caballero in 31.42 and the Gold to Mexican Sofia Laureano Perez in 30.14. Anthony was the best placed CARIFTA region garnering 29 points to place 6th overall.When draftingthecaribbean spoke to the versatile youngster she gave her impression of her performances in Florida
“I certainly felt relieved to finish in third place in the 50 fly you don’t want to attend a swim meet of this calibre and go home empty handed I had three 4th places finished in the 400 free, 200 free and a heartbreaker in the 100 freestyle (she was out touched for the Bronze by 0.25 of a second) so my third place finish was indeed very satisfying. Overall the meet was a tough one for me. The competition from the Mexicans and Brazilians was really challenging and the weather on Day One was a significant challenge. My times were much slower than normal for the 400 free and 200IM but overall it was a fantastic experience”.
The final day of competition at the UANA Cup in Coral Springs Florida on Jan 21 saw Team Jamaica resetting the record books in the mixed 200 metre freestyle relay and Shaun Johnson recording a Youth Olympic B time in the 50 metre freestyle.
The 15-17 mixed 200 metre freestyle relay team of Shaun Johnson 27.37, Jesse Marsh 24.46 ,Gabrianna Banks 27.12 and Nicholas Vale 24.75 set a new senior and 15-17 age group record of 1:43.70 to place 4th overall. The team was the highest placed CARIFTA region quartet in their age group.
The previous record was set at the 2016 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships when the team of Keanan Dols 24.62, Bryanna Renuart 28.13,Marsh 25.57 and Kelsie Campbell 26.93 touched in 1:45.25.
Shaun Johnson who was a member of the 2017 CARIFTA “Golden Girls” went under the Youth Olympics B qualifying mark of 27.39 with her opening leg. In 2017 Jamaica’s 15-17 girls dubbed the “Golden Girls” won all their relay events at the CARIFTA Championships winning the 200, 400 and 800 metre freestyle relays as well as the 400 metre medley relay.
When draftingthecaribbean caught up with Johnson she spoke about the race, the competition overall and being chosen as the flag bearer
“For the 4 x 50 freestyle relay, I was a little nervous because I had never done a mixed relay before and I rarely ever lead off. Coach Gillian (Millwood) decided to place me in the relay and said she was confident in seeing a great 50 time for me being the lead off especially considering I didn’t do the 50 free this weekend. Seeing 27.37 was surprising! My PB for last year was a 27.72 at CARIFTA and right now I’m in the middle of my high school season so things look exciting in that event. The rest of the team actually voted me to be the flag bearer and that was a fun part of the weekend as well! That was really cool”.
Britney Williams tied with Alison Jackson of The Cayman Islands as the top CARIFTA region performer in the 15-17 100 metre freestyle with identical 59.55’s for 5th place.
Team Jamaica finished the competition with 6 more best times on the final day to end with 20 new personal records overall, two age group records and one senior national record.
Emily MacDonald was the best placed Jamaican in the high point scoring for the age group placing 8th with 22 points.