ALBURY HIGGS CAPS GREAT YEAR WITH YET ANOTHER 100 METRE BREASTSTROKE RECORD AT CAC GAMES

Albury higgs contemplating CAC
Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

The 2017-2018 season will be the one that Bahamian Albury Higgs will remember especially for her exploits in the 100 metre breaststroke. When she celebrated a decade of being unbeaten in the event at her country’s national championships she was just outside of  2019  Lima PAN AM Games  automatic qualifying mark of 1:11.11 when she won in 1:11.18.  That would fall to her  when she competed at the 2018 Bulldog Grand Slam in Georgia recording another national record mark of 1:10.77.  Her last opportunity for long course action would come by way of a time trial at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla Colombia.As the saying in swimming circles goes “last one fast one” and Albury did not disappoint. She crushed her old record to post a time of 1:10.03 on July 21. That put her on the verge of being the first Bahamian woman under the 1:10. mark. She is also dangerously close to the 2019 Gwangju LCM World Championships B standard of 1:09.79. That mark also doubles as the 2018 Hangzhou   SCM World Championships . Albury is also in sight of the initial Tokyo 2020 B qualifying mark of 1:09.08. The times will be confirmed by FINA  in December.

Record Progression
100 metre breaststroke 2018 REV National 2018 Athens Grand slam 2018 CAC Games
First 50 metres 36.65 33.31 33.11
Second 50 metres 34.52 37.46 36.92
Final Time 1:11.17 1:10.77 1:10.03

 

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Higgs on Aug 10 and she spoke about her record swim, coping with the heat in  Colombia and the 2017-2018 season

Albury Higgs CAC warmup
Albury Higgs warming up at the 2018 CAC Games Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

“I decided to time trial the 100 breast on the second day of competition since I was not in the 100 breast event the day before, so I could try to swim a best time while I was tapered. I was happy with the outcome of going a best time and a new national record! (My splits were 33.11 / 1:10.03). Sometimes it is difficult swimming a time trial, since you swim the event on your own, but I stuck to my race plan and was able to push myself, even though no one was in the lane next to me. Coping with the heat in Colombia was somewhat difficult, but being used to swimming outside, for example in Nassau at the Bahamas Nationals, helped us prepare. Staying in the shade and making sure we stayed hydrated were most important. I was very happy overall with my 2017-18 season. Going best times both short course at school and long course for the Bahamas this summer, as well as setting national records, is a great feeling. I am looking forward to this upcoming season and ready to work ever harder!

Albury higgs profile gamecocks online
Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of gamecocksonline

Albury will be entering her junior year at the University of South Carolina  where is she is third fastest swimmer in school history in the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.02

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SCORCHING SUMMER 18 RENZO RULES THE POOL WITH SPEED COMPLETES 50 FREESTYLE TRIFECTA ,SOUTH AMERICAN GAMES, CCCAN AND NOW CAC

The summer of 2018 had proven to be hot but Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe has proven to be to be just as hot in the pool in  swimming’s fastest event the 50 metre freestyle taking  titles at the South American Games, CCCAN in Aruba and now the CAC (Central American Games).

Renzo South american
Renzo celebrating South American Games Gold in the 50 metre freestyle Photo courtesy of therenzotjonajoeofficial fan page

BOLIVIAN BLAST OFF

The summer sizzle started in Cochabamba Bolivia at the South American Games when he entered the competition with a  career best placing of a Bronze medal in Chile in 2014 with a time of 22.88. But there were be no swimmer to best him in Bolivia as on May 29 he took the event in his best time at the Championships of 22.65.At the G.A.M.C. Aquatics Center at Mariscal Santa Cruz Park he staved off the challenges of Venezuelan Olympian Cristian Quintero 22.71 and Brazilian André Calvelo 22.80. The first stage of the regional tour was complete and the first Gold was in the chest.

Renzo CCCAN
18 and over 50 freestyle medallists Greene, Tjon A Joe and Reyes Photo courtesy of Harold Wilson

ACCELERATING IN ARUBA

Renzo never stepped off the gas when competing at the CCCAN Championships at the Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik in Aruba. He treated the crowd at hand to a sub 23 clocking in the morning heats on July 3 with a time of 22.86. The audience at hand would get another opportunity of viewing  elite speed when he took the final in a time of 22.88. Silver in the race went to Bahamian Gershwin Greene 23.52 and the Bronze to Panama’s Franco Reyes in 23.65.

CAC 50 free medallists
CAC 50 metre freestyle medallists Photo courtesy of Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe Barranquilla 2018

COLOMBIAN CONFIRMATION

When Renzo arrived in Barranquilla Colombia his appetite for regional Gold had not been satisified and he was a man on a mission to win all 50 metre freestyle races . In  Veracruz, Mexico four years earlier he had the earned the second rung on the podium with a time of 22.62. Winning the Gold was regional legend and Olympic medallist Trinidad and Tobago’s George Bovell III who completed his own trifecta of CAC Gold medal wins in the event 2006 22.67,2010 22.23 and then 2014 22.30.

The morning heats gave him the top time of 22.28 , mere 5 hundredths of a second off the Championship record. History beckoned in the final. When the gun fired in the evening’s Championship final on Wednesday July 28 it would be another Olympian from the twin island republic that had the early lead as Dylan Carter worked his underwater kicks well to have the initial advantage. Renzo seeing that early surge being right beside him was building into his swim. He cut into that lead until the two CARIFTA region stars were about even at the 25 metre mark .

Renzo points to scorboard
Renzo points to scoreboard after setting a new PB, NR and CAC Games record Photo courtesy of Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe Barranquilla 2018

Renzo edged ahead after that and maintained that lead into the wall to win and crown himself the THE FASTEST MAN IN THE REGION  and take the Gold in a new PB , national record and CAC Games record of 22.18. Silver went to Carter in 22.38 and the Bronze to Venezuela’s Alberto Mestre 22.47.

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK 

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers

In the words of legendary rapper LL Cool J don’t call it a comeback . The victories by Renzo cannot be seen as a comeback but another highlight of Renzo’s sprint legacy and him leading his cohort from the CARIFTA region in this event from the junior ranks.

Renzo CARIFTA 2013
Renzo Tjon A Joe reacts to winning Gold in the 15-17 metre freestyle in 2013 Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

 

As juniors Renzo and Dylan had another hotly contested 50 metre freestyle at CARIFTA 2013 on a hot night in Kingston on April 2 .Renzo had set the then CARIFTA record of 23.37 in the heats before nipping Carter for Gold in the final 23.44 to 23.46. The victory a first for Suriname at the CAC Games was also the 20th fastest in the world.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Renzo he spoke about the CAC victory and training leading up to this moment

“It’s been a long road to getting back in race shape post Rio 16. I had taken a small “break” from the sport to focus on my academics. I credit my past 3 victories to training with Sergio Lopez and Tyler McGill. I officially got back in the pool January 2018 and my goal honestly this summer was just getting back to swimming fast. I had no idea it would’ve happened this quickly. Dylan played a huge role in my swim last night, It’s always exciting racing against him because of our shared history.

George Bovell
Goerge Bovell III Photo courtesy of sportsmax.tv

Getting George Bovell’s record also meant a lot since he’s some I’ve always looked up to and still do.He’s an Olympic medalist and has a legendary status.The trifecta and a best time just sealed a perfect  summer”.

He also elaborated about his future training plans

Bruno-Fratus-swimswam
Bruno Fratus Photo courtesy of swimswam.com

I will be moving down to South Florida  to train with Olympians Australian Coach Brett Hawke and Brazilian Bruno Fratus (2017 World Championships 50 metre freestyle Silver medallist )”.

On the horizon for the rest of the year will be the South American championships November 8-12 Trujillo,Peru, Swim Cup Amsterdam October 19 to 21 Amsterdam Netherlands and the 2018 World Short Course Swimming championships Hangzhou China Dec 7 -11.

 

 

 

HISTORIC FIRSTS FOR THE BAHAMAS AND JAMAICA AS ALBURY HIGGS, JOANNA EVANS AND ALIA ATKINSON WIN MEDALS ON DAY 4 OF THE CAC GAMES

The fourth night of action the at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia on Saturday night at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex saw three CARIFTA region ladies as they won the first ever medals for their nations in their respective events.

Higgs breaststroke bronze
200 metre breaststroke Bronze medallist Albury Higgs

Starting the medal run Was Albury Higgs of The Bahamas. Albury has been having quite the summer lowering the national records in the 100 and 200 metre breaststroke right before the Games . She was expected to be in form at the meet and she was. She qualified for the 200 metre breaststroke Championship final with a time of 2:32.90 just her national standard of 2:32.30 set at the Bahamian REV national championships in June. Joining in her in the final was countrywoman  2:33.90 Laura Morley who made the Championship finals in all the breaststroke events, the 50,100 and 200 .

With increased  speed evidenced by her national record of 1:10.77 in the 100 metre event in  the United States Albury pushed the pace in the final turning at the 100 metre mark in a time of 1:12.59 in the Silver medal position.She held that placing until the last couple of metres when Mexico’s Esther Gonzalez Medina passed her. That early front end speed would pay off as she just just held off Morley to take the Bronze in 2:30.83 to 2:31.02 .Both ladies went well under the old national mark and were well under the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games automatic qualifying standard of 2:34.43. Both swimmers achieved the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World  Championships B standard of 2:31.02. With her Bronze medal she becomes the first Bahamian man or woman to win a medal in the event.She also becomes the fastest ever CARIFTA region swimmer at the Games as she bettered Alia Atkinson’s 2006 effort of 2:30.99.  Only Atkinson and now Higgs have ever medalled in the event for the ladies. It also marks the first medal for Albury in the senior ranks

Higgs offered this reaction to her historic swim

“It was an exciting swim and I was very happy with the best time and record, as well as a bronze for team Bahamas!”

Gold went to the Mexican duo of Byanca Melissa Rodriguez Villanuez in a Games record of 2:25.60 and the Silver to Gonzalez Medina in 2:29.72.

Puerto rico 400 im
400 IM medallists Photo courtesy of the Puerto Swimming federation

Known primarily for her distance exploits Joanna Evans has taken the opportunity to add a few other events to her schedule and it has resulted in medal winning performances.In the 100 metre freestyle she set a new personal best to win the Silver medal. She had set the national record of 4:59.25  in the 400 metre individual medley as a junior swimmer at the 2015 CARIFTA Games in Barbados which still stands today. in qualification she  cleared that mark  with a time of 4:57.56. In the final she blew that mark away with a swim of  4:50.38 to land the Silver. Joanna becomes the first Bahamian woman to medal in the event. Both record breaking swims were under the  2019 LIMA PAN AM Games mark of 4:57.99. The only other swimmers  from the CARIFTA  region to medal at the Games are Gold was won by Puerto Rico’s Kristen Romano in 4:46.31 and the Bronze by Monika Gonzalez Hermosillo in 4:52.13. She gave an assessment of the race and the  humid conditions to draftingthecaribbean

“Honestly there was not much of a strategy except to go out and race and see what I can do.It is really hot .We are just hydrating and trying to stay out of the sun”.

CARIFTA REGION MEDALLISTS THROUGH THE YEARS

Year Name Time Country Medal
1986 Rhett Chee Ping 4:39.14 Trinidad and Tobago Bronze
1998 Carolyn Adel 4:52.42 Suriname Gold
2006 Jeremy Knowles 4:23.83 The Bahamas Silver
2006 Bradley Ally 4:22.86 GR Barbados Gold
2010 Bradley Ally 4:21.49 GR Barbados Gold
100 metre butterfly
100 metre butterfly medallists Photo courtesy ofadiimages

Competing in her third CAC Games Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson created another first by medalling in the 100 metre butterfly. No Jamaican man or woman has ever made it to the podium in the event . Last night she took the Bronze medal in the event in a time of 1:00.13 (split time 27.34). Silver went to Venezuela’s Isabella  Paez 1:00.04 and Gold to Miriam Guevara Hernandez in 59.13. Alia’s medal winning time was the second best effort of her career as her national record stands at 59.94 (split time 28.44) when she beat Paez (1:00.47) for the Gold at the 2017 Southern Zone Sectional Championship.

FEMALE CARIFTA REGION MEDALLISTS THROUGH THE YEARS

Year Name Time Country Medal
1978 Shelly Cramer 1:05.64 ISV Silver
1982 Shelly Cramer 1:04.20 ISV Silver
1982 Judy Lawaetz 1:05.10 ISV Bronze
1993 Siobhan Cropper 1:03.01 Trinidad and Tobago Gold
2010 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 59.74 GR The Bahamas Gold
2014 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 1:00.17 The Bahamas Gold

MEDALS GALORE,ATKINSON CONTINUES ROLE AS CAC BREASTSTROKE INVINCIBLE,CARTER AND ROMANY TAKE HISTORIC FLY GOLD AND BRONZE,EVANS EXPANDS FREESTYLE KINGDOM WITH 100 SILVER

Oh what a night for the CARIFTA region swimmers at  23rd  (CAC) Central American and Caribbean  Games at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex in Colombia, on Sunday night as  four medals were won in three events. Alia Atkinson continued her invincible run in the 50 metre breaststroke, Team TTO’s Dylan Carter and Joshua Romany win a historic Gold and Bronze in the 50 metre butterfly and Bahamian Joanna Evans expands freestyle repertoire with 100 metre freestyle Silver

ALIA ATKINSON CAC 50 METRE BREASTSTROKE INVINCIBLE

If Alia Atkinson had not already confirmed her place in the pantheon of CAC swimming legends  the 50 metre breaststroke would certainly have cemented her place. No one expected any less than Gold from the Olympian and she ensured from the heats there would be no threats to her sprint breaststroke throne when she blazed to 31.14 .she was easily the class of the field and clearly there was more in the tank. From the starter’s gun and a fantastic start it was clear there would be no stopping Atkinson as she crushed the field by more than a second to win 30.19.  That was a mere .08 of a second off her Silver medal winning national mark of 30.11 set the 2015 Kazan World Championships. It is also the FOURTH fastest time in the world this year.At the CAC Games Atkinson has had no equal never being second best in either the heats or finals  in the editions she has attended and she only missed the 2014 Veracruz Games. Each time she has lined up behind the block it has resulted in a Games Record. Her record swim confirmed her obvious inclusion at the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM).

 

2006 2010 2018
Heats 33.51 GR 32.38GR 31.14 GR
Final 32.64 GR 31.91GR 30.19 GR

Silver went to Mexico Byanca Melissa Rodriguez Villanuev in 31.20 and the Bronze to Venezuela’s Mercedes Toledo in 31.99.The duo were the 2014 Gold and Silver medallists in Alia’s absence. There was  a heavy CARIFTA region presence as Bahamian Lilly Higgs placed fourth in 32.59,  Aruban Anahi Schrueders placed sixth in 33.33 and Laura Morley of The Bahamas seventh in 33.50.

FLY GUYS CARTER AND ROMANY MAKE HISTORY FOR TEAM TTO IN 50

50 metre butterfly medallists
CAC 50 metre butterfly medallists Photo courtesy of Federación Nacional de Natación Guatemala

Before this competition Team TTO had never won a medal in the 50 metre butterfly .Also the CARIFTA region had won a single medal through the efforts of Bahamian Vereance Burrows in 2010 with his Bronze medal blast of 24.30. History was going to be created in the night however. Joshua Romany fired the opening salvo with a  personal best of 23.73 rattling the 2010 record of 23.70 by Venezuela’s Octavio Alesi. Carter would ensure that the record said read Property of Trinidad and Tobago with his 23.50.

Team TTO
Team TTO celebrates Trinidad and Tobago’s Chef de mission Lovie Santana and Secretary General Ms. Annette Knott capture a moment with Romany and Carter Photo courtesy of Team TTO

 

In the evening’s final there would be the double the joy for Team TTO as Carter took the Gold in yet another Games record of 23.11, which is also a new personal best and national . Teammate Romany in just his second senior level assignment won the Bronze in a time of 24.05. The pair was split by Guatemala Luis Carlos Martinez Mendez with his 23.26. Carter now ranks fourth in the World with his new record and qualifies automatically for the 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming Championships and 2019 Gwangju World Championships (LCM)  . Romany continues to get faster and has been on major upward trajectory since 2017 is near the automatic standard of 23.66 for both Championships.

Video by Team TTO

JOANNA EVANS EXPANDS FROM DISTANCE FREESTYLE WITH SPRINT SILVER

Joanna Evans 100 metre freestyle
Joanna Evans Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

When draftingthecaribbean saw the lineup for the 100 metre Championship final with Joanna Evans lining up to contest the medals we noted that if she was anywhere near the leaders after the first 50 metre it would be hard to deny her not just a medal but the Gold.  Evans qualified with a personal best of 56.51, the sixth best time of the field.

When the race started the known sprinters surged to the lead and Joanna was close by at the turn with a split of 26.82 to be fourth. Then came the expected Joanna started to close and was passing by the leaders. It would not be enough and she ran out of water as Venezuela’s Isabella Arcila Hurtado just held on to take the Gold in 55.21. Evans crushed her personal best to win the Silver in 55.29.The Bronze went to Mexican Liliana Ibanez Lopez in 55.39. Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson finished just off the podium and her national record of 55.35 with a time of 55.41. This the third consecutive medal for the Bahamas in the event following Silver and Gold efforts by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace in 2010 and 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

CARIFTA BREASTSTROKE CHAMPIONS LILLY HIGGS AND IZAAK BASTIAN NAVIGATE MAKE FIRST SENIOR LEVEL CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

The Bahamian duo of CARIFTA Champions Lilly Higgs and Izaak Bastian made the championship finals at the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games in Barranquilla Colombia on July 20 and 21st respectively.

final preparations for free final Izaak
Bastian makes last minute preparations for his race at CARIFTA 2018. Photo courtesy of Rochelle Bastian

This competition marks their second opportunity participating at a senior level meet, the first time was earlier this year at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. With more rest between competitions both swimmers who hold the fastest time ever in this event at the CARIFTA level were able to make the Championship final in the 100 metre breaststroke events. Lilly placed fifth in a time of 1:11.32 just ahead of countrywoman Laura Morley who stopped the clock in 1:12.34. In 2014 there was also a Bahamian as Lilly’s older sister Albury had placed fourth in 1:14.06.

Higgs sisters CAC 2018
CAC 100 metre breaststroke championship finalists in 2018 and 2014 Lilly and Albury Higgs Photo courtesy of Bahamas Aquatics

 

 

Bastian lowered his best time twice .In the heats he had a time of 1:02.99 (split time 29.49)  and in the final he placed seventh 1:02.91( split time 28.96). His split is significant as he won the 50 metre breaststroke at CARIFTA in Kingston Jamaica earlier this year in 28.69.

Izaak and Lilly Shelly Bas productions
Izaak Bastian and Lilly Higgs after their historic 2017Commonwealth Youth Games  Silver medal winning performances Photo courtesy of Shelly Bastian

 

The presence of three Bahamians in Championship finals at this competition also speaks to the proficiency of that nation in this stroke.

Draftingthecaribbean contacted Lilly and asked about her first senior level Championship final and she gave us her thoughts about her first day of competition

“Overall, my races today went pretty well. This morning I swam the backstroke leg on the mixed 4×100 medley relay and later swam 100 breaststroke and qualified for the A final. My prelims swim wasn’t what I wanted, but I was still able to get another swim and am very happy with my finals swim!”

 

TEAM JAMAICA DAY 2 REPORT ALIA SETS NATIONAL FLY RECORD EN ROUTE TO GOLD, DOLS LOWERS ANDREW PHILLIPS DECADES OLD MEDLEY RECORD

Team Jamaica’s performances on Day 2 of the 2018 CAC (Central American and Caribbean ) Games by yet another Gold medal by Olympian Alia Atkinson in the 50 metre butterfly and record breakinng swims by Keanan Dols in the 200 metre individual medley.

Alia 50 metre butterfly
Alia Atkinson posing with 50 metre butterfly Gold Photo courtesy of Gillian Millwood

Colombia will hold special memories for Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson as it was in 2006 when the 50 metre butterfly was introduced to swimming schedule she was the first winner of the event in Cartagena in a time of 28.59. Fast forward to 2018 in Barranquilla and Atkinson has not lost her appetite for Colombian Gold. In the heats we saw  signs that the Gold would be heading to Kingston when she broke her three year old 50 national record of 26.65 with a time of 26.54.  She would not be top seed as that went to 2010  and 2014 Bronze medallist Jeserik Pinto of Venezuela who got Lane 4 with a time of 26.52. In the final however Alia would prevail with a time of 26.60. Pinto upgraded her Bronze to Silver with a time of 26.76. Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez  returned to win another Bronze in 27.08. With that swim Atkinson closes in on the A standard for the 2019 Gwangju World Champs of 26.34.

The event has been dominated by the CARIFTA region ladies as no swimmers other than Atkinson and recently retired Olympian Bahamian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace have won this race.Additionally Vanderpool-Wallace holds the Games record at 26.46.

Year Winner Time
2006 Alia Atkinson 28.59
2010 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.92
2014 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.46
2018 Alia Atkinson 26.60
andrew phillips
Andrew Phillips Photo courtesy of andrewphillips.com

Almost 30 years ago on August 4 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games Andrew Phillips registered the fastest time by a Jamaican in the 200 metre individual medley when he clocked a national record of 2:05.60. That is the best placing for a Jamaican man at the Olympic Games.

keanan-dols-m-lyn
Keanan Dols Photo courtesy of Michael Lyn

On July 21, 2018 in Barranquilla Colombia that mark was finally lowered. Keanan Dols swimming in heat 2 of the event won his race in  a time of 2:04.00. That helped Keanan qualify for his second consecutive senior level Championship final.He would record his best placing of fourth in yet another record swim with a time of 2:03.66, a mere 0.18  of a second away from the Bronze medal winning time of Mexican Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz who stopped the clock in 2:03.48. Gold went to Puerto’s Jarrod Aroyo in 2:02.37.Silver was won by Venezuela’s Carlos Claverie in 2:03.06.

National record progression

Leg Phillips 1984 Dols  2018 Dols 2018
butterfly 27.88 26.70 26.78
backstroke 31.58 31.67 31.55
breaststroke 36.67 35.91 35.55
freestyle 29.47 29.72 29.78
Total Time 2:05.60 2:04.00 2:03.66

That qualifies Keanan automatically for the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games and is under the 2019 Gwagju World Championships  and 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course swimming championships B standards of 2:04.43.

Dols ay 2016 CISC
Dols at 2016 CISC Photo courtesy of Mike C Lyn

The CCCAN region occupied positions 1,3,4 ,5,6, 7 and 8 in the Championship final. Fifth placed Patrick Groters set a new national record of 2:04.13. Interestingly at the last Caribbean Islands Swimming championships held in The Bahamas in 2016 Arroyo had won the 13-14 200 IM in a Championships record of 2;07.59 while Groters and Dols had finished 1,2 in the 15-17 age group in 2:06.19CR and 2:07.09.

Michael Gunning earned a second swim in the 200 IM after posting 2:12.41 in the morning heats. He would return to swim to fourth place and a season best of 2:10.60.

Emily MacDonald was 19th in the 50 metre butterfly in a personal best of 28.61. she finished 20th in the 200 metre freestyle in a time of 2:14.83.

 

 

 

CARIFTA LADIES NIGHT IN COLOMBIA ATKINSON AND EVANS SET NEW NATIONAL MARKS ON THEIR TO BARRANQUILLA GOLD

It was CARIFTA region ladies on Day Two of the swimming competition at the CAC (Central American and Caribbean ) Games in Barranquilla Colombia asOlympians Joanna Evans of The Bahamas and Jamaican doubled their Gold medal count . Both ladies set national records on their way to winning the 200 metre freestyle and 50 metre butterfly events respectively.

Coming to the competition Joanna was already the best the CARIFTA region had ever produced in the 200 metre freestyle with a national record of 1:59.19. What would now be asked is how could the competition push to her to new levels of excellence. Last night’s final would not disappoint.When the race got underway Joanna took the lead at the first turn with a time of 28.13. She was however closely followed by 2014 Bronze medallist Elisbet Gamez Matos of Cuba with 28.45 and Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez 28.65. Lilianna could not hold the pace leaving Joanna and Elisbet to record the only sub 59 seconds 100 metre splits of 58.18 and 58.69. It would be the third 50 metres where Evans had a split of 30.01 that broke the Cuban resistance. Although Elisbet made a push on the final 50 metres it would not be enough as Joanna won in a new PB, national record and Games record of 1:58.03. The old record of 2:00.19 belong to Olympic Gold medallist Claudia Poll . Poll was a dominant force in her time in the event as she won virtually every Gold medal that was on offer.

Claudia Poll panamerican world
Claudia Poll celebrates after winning Olympic Gold at Atlanta 1996 Photo courtesy of Panamerican world
Date and Venue Medal
1993 Pan Pacific  Champs Gold
1995 World Short Course Champs Gold
1996 Olympics Gold
1998 World Champs (LCM) Gold
2006 CAC Games Gold

This is a major jump up the standings for Evans as in 2014 she placed sixth in 2:04.07.With her win Evans becomes the FIRST Bahamian man or woman to win the 200 metre freestyle as well as first English speaking woman to win the event .Joanna is the FIRST Bahamian man or woman complete the 200 and 400 metre free Gold Double. She is also the first CARIFTA region swimmer man or woman to complete the double in record time. Olympian Carolyn Adel did the double in 1998 but only the 400 metre freestyle was a Games Record. Her record swim automatically qualifies her for the 2019 Lima PAN AM Games, 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Swimming championships and 2019 Gwangju (LCM) World Championships.  Silver went Gamez Matos in 1:58.55 and Lilianna the Bronze in 2:01.36.

When draftingthecaribbean contacted new Games record holder she spoke about the race and her expectations

“Going in, I knew it would be a close race. It’s always exciting to be able to race. It’s hard to tell how fast your going because it’s a little on the warm side, but I felt good. It’s great to get Team Bahamas fired up”.

 

Evans 200 free Gold
Joanna Evans poses with 200 metre freestyle Gold medal Photo courtesy of Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe Barranquilla 2018

National record progression

Date and Venue First 100 Second 100 Final Time
Aug 24,2017 WUG 58.23 1:00.83 1:59.19
July 21,2018 58.18 59.85 1:58.03
Alia 50 metre butterfly
Alia Atkinson posing with 50 metre butterfly Gold Photo courtesy of Gillian Millwood

Colombia will hold special memories for Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson as it was in 2006 when the 50 metre butterfly was introduced to swimming schedule she was the first winner of the event in Cartagena in a time of 28.59. Fast forward to 2018 in Barranquilla and Atkinson has not lost her appetite for Colombian Gold. In the heats we saw  signs that the Gold would be heading to Kingston when she broke her three year old 50 national record of 26.65 with a time of 26.54.  She would not be top seed as that went to 2010  and 2014 Bronze medallist Jeserik Pinto of Venezuela who got Lane 4 with a time of 26.52. In the final however Alia would prevail with a time of 26.60. Pinto upgraded her Bronze to Silver with a time of 26.76. Mexican Lilianna Ibanez Lopez  returned to win another Bronze in 27.08. With that swim Atkinson closes in on the A standard for the 2019 Gwangju World Champs of 26.34.

The event has been dominated by the CARIFTA region ladies as no swimmers other than Atkinson and recently retired Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace have won this race.Additionally Vanderpool-Wallace holds the Games record at 26.46

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Photo courtesy of fitterandfaster.com
Year Winner Time
2006 Alia Atkinson 28.59
2010 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.92
2014 Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace 26.46
2018 Alia Atkinson 26.60