Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas, a top regional age group standout has committed to swimming for the University of North Carolina starting September 2018.

Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs looks back at the clock after capturing the 15-17 100 metre breaststroke title at the 2016 CARIFTA Championships

Lilly has been the CARIFTA Championships top sprint breaststroker for the last two years. She has also been unbeaten in the 50 and 100 metre breaststroke for the last three extending to her final year of the 13-14 age group. Since winning her first CARIFTA medal, a bronze for Team Bahamas at the Aruba Championships in 2014 she has become a powerhouse for her country at the annual championships. Her overall CARIFTA medal tally now stands at 30 medals won, eleven of which are Gold.

Lilly created history for her country and the CARIFTA region last season when she won a Silver medal in new 15-17 and senior national record in the 50 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games July when The Bahamas hosted the competition. She would also lower the 15-17 and senior national record See link below

World Junior Champs team Bahamas.PNG

Her impressive run at the junior level also extends to the World Junior Championships where she competed at two editions, 2015 in Singapore and recently in Indiana. Lilly bettered her times from her first campaign and registered the top CARIFTA regional performances in all the events she competed in. She again lowered the national mark in the 100 metre breaststroke

Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
Aug 25, 2015 World Juniors Singapore 50 metre breaststroke 33.19 21st
Aug 27, 2016 World Juniors Singapore 100 metre breaststroke 1:13.00 24th
Aug 30, 2017 World Juniors Singapore 200 metre breaststroke 2:40.48 29th
Aug 28, 2017


World Juniors Singapore 200 metre individual medley 2:25.73 40th
Date Meet Location Event Time Placing
August 23,2017 World Juniors Indiana 50 metre breaststroke 32.84 20th
August 25,2017 World Juniors Indiana 100 metre breaststroke 1:11.18 22nd
August 28,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre breaststroke 2:39.87 30th
August 26,2017 World Juniors Indiana 200 metre individual medley 2:23.41 34th

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to her about her college choice she had the following thoughts

“After many trips to schools and teams around the country, I decided that my best option for continuing my education and training was right here in North Carolina at UNC.  I am so excited to be a Tar Heel!”.

Lilly will join a number of talented Bahamian women competing at the NCAA Division I level. Those swimmers include Laura Morley who competes at University of Indiana –Bloomington and older sister Albury who swims for the University of South Carolina.





Olympian Joanna Evans (Rio 2016) continued to make history for herself, The Bahamas and the CARIFTA and CCCAN regions with historic medal winning performances at the Summer Universiade in Taipei Taiwan this past August.

Before this year’s competition the last medal won in swimming from the CCCAN region had come from countryman Jeremy Knowles with his historic 200 metre butterfly Bronze medal winning performance in 1:59.21 at the 2003 Daegu South Korea Games .Jeremy was the first and only swimmer from the CARIFTA region to win medal at the Championships.

Evans with 800 metre freestyle medallists Bahamas Aquatics
800 metre freestyle medallists From left to right German Sarah Koehler Silver medallist,Italian Gold medallist Simona Quadarella and Bahamian Bronze medallist Joanna Evans

That all changed on August 25, 2017 at the Taiwan Sports University Arena when Evans touched the wall in a new National record of 8:31.18 to win the Bronze medal. That time lowered her previous record of 8:32.18 set at 2016 The Bahamas Nationals before her debut performance at the Rio Olympics. That medal win broke a 14 year medal drought for the CARIFTA and CCCAN regions. She also put more distance between herself and the other swimmers as she was already the fastest ever swimmer from a CARIFTA or CCCAN nation.

Analysis of Joanna’s top 800 metre freestyle swims

Date and venue First 200 Second 200 Third 200 Fourth 200 Final time
Atlanta May 2017 2:06.13 2:09.49 2:10.81 2:09.67 8:36.10
Nassau 2016 2:06.65 2:08.89 2:08.22 2:08.43 8:32.19
WUGs Aug 25 2:04.04 2:08.95 2:08.86 2:09.33 8:31.18

Gold went to Simona Quadarella of Italy in 8:20.54 and the Silver was won by Sarah Koehler of Germany in 8:21.67

Evans had given a hint before of what was to come when she lowered her national record in the 200 metre freestyle to 1:59.19 to make the Championship final. That record swim solidified her position as the fastest CARIFTA swimmer in the event as she had passed the previous CARIFTA best of 2:01.11 by Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) at the Atlanta Pro Swim Series  meet on May 6. At that meet she had performances of 2:00.37 and 1:59.91. In the final on August 25 she placed 8th in a time of 2:00.70 less than 30 minutes after winning Bronze in the gruelling 800 metre freestyle.


Analysis of Joanna’s top 200 metre freestyle swims

Date and venue First 100 Second 100 Final time
Olympics  Aug 2016 59.23 1:02.04 2:01.27
Atlanta May 2017 59.22 1:01.15 2:00.37
Austin July 2017 58.89 1:01.02 1:59.91
WUGS Aug 24 2017 58.23 1:00.83 1:59.19
WUGs Aug 25 58.05 1:02.65 2:00.70
Joanna Evans Bronze medal nassau Guardian
B medallists in the 400 metre freestyle from left to right American Sierra Schmidt Bronze medallist, German Sarah Koehler Gold medallist and Bahamian Joanna Evans Silver medallist Photo courtesy of nassauguardian

A day later of August 26 she would go one better on the medal podium when she won the Silver medal in the 400 metre freestyle with a time of 4:08.52.Gold went to Sarah Koehler in 4:03.96 and the Bronze to America’s Sierra Schmidt in 4:09.82.

With that performance Joanna became the FIRST and ONLY CARIFTA swimmer male or female to win TWO medals at the Championships, the ONLY CARIFTA swimmer male or female to win a SILVER medal. In the CCCAN region she became the FIRST and ONLY CCCAN woman to win TWO medals at the Championship, and the ONLY CCCAN woman to win a SILVER medal at the Championships.


Bent and Falcon 100 metre backstroke medallists
Atlanta 1996 100 metre backstroke medallists from left to right Rodolfo A. Falcón Cabrera Silver medallist,American Jeff Rouse Gold medallist and Neisser S. Bent Vázquez Bronze medallist Photo courtesy of gettyimages

She has also tied the Cuban Olympic duo of Rodolfo A. Falcón Cabrera  (Barcelona 1992 ,Atlanta 1996 , Sydney 2000) and Neisser S. Bent Vázquez ( Atlanta 1996 , Sydney 2000) for Most Medals won at Two.

Rodolfo had won Gold in the 100 and 200 metre backstroke events in times of 55.60 and 1:59.90 at the 1993 Buffalo Games. Neisser won Gold and Silver in the same events at the 1997 Sicily Italy Games with performances of 55.82 and 2:00.37. Both would win Silver and Bronze respectively in the 100 metre backstroke at the 1996 Olympics

When Draftingthecaribbean spoke the region’s best distance freestyler she gave the following thoughts about her performances

“I was pleased with them. The times weren’t excellent but given the circumstances and line-up I was very happy”

The best in the region over the middle to long distance freestyle events also placed 23rd in the 100 metre freestyle 56.99 split time 27.87 just off her best time of 56.74. In her sights will be the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where the best CARIFTA region performance in her signature events are two Bronze medals.

Janelle Atkinson and 800 metre freestyle Silver medallists 2002 gettyimages uk
2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games 800 metre freestyle medallists from left to right Australian Amanda Pascoe Bronze medallist, England’s Rebecca Cooke Gold medallist and Jamaican Bronze medallist Janelle Atkinson Photo courtesy of gettyimages

Those medals were won by Jamaican Janelle Atkinson at the 2002 Manchester Games in the 400 (4:13.24) and 800 metre (8:36.18) freestyle races.

It would be hard not to see her medalling in those events with her form that consistently improves each season.


As draftingthecaribbean continues to look back at the performances of the region’s best for the 2016-2017 we go back to the World Junior Championships on Day 3 on August 25 where Jack Kirby of Barbados became the fastest age group swimmer from his country in the 50 metre backstroke.

Jack Kirby Barbados Aquatic centre
Jack Kirby Photo courtesy of Barbados Aquatic Centre

Jack accomplished this feat by swimming 26.88 in the event in Indianapolis.

That swim propelled him to place 23rd overall and the 3rd fastest in the CCCAN region.

Leading up to his record breaking feat on August 25 Jack was already having quite a successful season. Competing in the 15-17 age group CARIFTA Championships in The Bahamas he broke the record twice in the heats and final of the event clocking 27.19 and then 27.08 to win the Silver. The previous record was held by Olympian Bradley Alley (2004, 2008,2012) set way back in 2002 with a time of 27.63.

He would follow up that success on June 29 to tie for Gold at the CCCAN championships in Trinidad and Tobago with French Guiana’s Steve Amiable in a time of 27.23.

On July 20 at the Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas he would make his first international final when he placed 7th in a time of 27.05. On his way to that historic final in the morning heats he came close to breaking the 27 seconds barrier when he set a then record time of 27.01.

The road to sub 27 seconds

Date Meet Time Heats Placing
April CARIFTA 2017 27.08 AGR 27.19 Silver
July CCCAN 2017 27.23 27.76 Gold
July CYG 27.05 27.01 AGR 7th


Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion Photo courtesy of carifta2016mque

Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas who has been the dominant swimmer in the sprint breaststroke events at the CARIFTA age group level for the last three years continued that good form at the World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis on August 25 when she lowered her 15-17 and senior national 100 metre breaststroke record for the second time this season.


Lilly recorded a time 1:11.18 to lower the mark she had set of 1:11.40 when she was a finalist at the Commonwealth Youth Games in July in The Bahamas. She was already the CARIFTA region’s best ever placed female performer in the event at the Global championships when she had placed 24th at the Singapore edition of the Championships. Higgs has raised the bar by moving the best placing to 22nd   and is almost 2 seconds faster than that swim.

Analysis of Lilly’s 2015 and 2017 world Championship performances

Date meet Venue First 50 metres Last 50 metres Final time Placing
 2015 World Juniors Singapore 34.54 38.46 1:13.00 24th
2017 World Juniors Indianapolis 33.89 37.29 1:11.18 22nd

Lilly was also the 2nd fastest swimmer from the CCCAN region finishing just behind Mexico’s Maria Jimenez who placed 20th in a time of 1:11.01 (split time 33.08).

Rounding out the top three in CCCAN was Puerto Rico’s Marissa Lugo Mojica who placed 39th in a time of 1:17.14 (split time 35.35).


Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion
Lilly Higgs 15-17 100 metre breaststroke champion Photo courtesy of carifta2016mque

As she did at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Singapore Lilly Higgs of The Bahamas was the CCCAN region’s top performer in the 50 metre breaststroke event today in Indianapolis.


Higgs, who is her country’s standard bearer in the event clocked 32.84 to be in place joint 20th overall with Australian Sarah Beale and be the top swimmer from the CCCAN region. For  Higgs who has been unbeaten in this race for the last three years at the CARIFTA Championships this was an improvement in time and placing from 2015 where she finished 21st in 33.19. Lilly was not far off making the semi-finals as it took 32.59 to make the top 16.

Mexico’s Maria Jiminez was 28th in a time of 33.32. Guatemala’s Jimina Ximin clocked in at 36.56 for 39th. It was a keen battle for who would be the top Honduran in the event. That accolade went Paola Cwu who was marginally ahead of countrywoman Angie Vilorio 37.21 to 37.36 to finish 43rd and 44th respectively.


On Saturday August 5 at the 2017 Futures Championships in Nashville Tennessee while representing the Pine Crest Swim Team Nicholas Vale became the fastest age group 400 metre freestyler Jamaica has ever produced when he clocked a time of 4:10.52.

D Walter  Cis courtesy of Tedra Bolger-Daoussis
Dominic Walter Photo courtesy of Tedra Bolger-Daoussis

That performance by Vale lowered the 15-17 boys’ record of 4:11.31 held by distance standout Dominic Walter when he competed at the 2010 CISC (Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships) in Cuba.

Nicholas lowered his personal best of 4:15.57 that doubles as the 13-14 national record that he set at the 2016 CISC in the Bahamas. He now holds five individual national records

Age Group Event Time
11-12 1500 metre freestyle 18:50.18
11-12 400 metre individual medley 5:13.78
13-14 400 metre freestyle 4:15.57
13-14 200 metre individual medley 2:16.17

Vale has been a regular fixture in the Jamaican swimming lineup since making his national debut at the 2013 CARIFTA Championships held in Kingston Jamaica.

Analysis of Vale’s 13-14 and 15-17 freestyle records

Meet Date First 100 metres Second 10 metres Third 100 metres Fourth 100 metres Final time
CISC July 4,2016 1:02.03 1:05.67 1:04.98 1:02.89 4:15.57
Futures Aug 5,2017 59.77 1:04.47 1:03.43 1:02.85 4:10.52
Nicholas Vale Pic by Mike C Lyn Futures 2017 Nashville
Nicholas Vale Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

At the same competition he registered the top times this season for the 15-17 Jamaican boys when he stopped the clock in 57.36 in the 100 metre butterfly and 2:13.03 in the 200 metre individual medley.

Vale relay takeover PC Mike Lyn Futures
Vale in relay action at Futures Photo courtesy of Michael C Lyn

In the relays Nicholas had two top 10 finishes with Pine Crest.

400 free relay PC N Vale
Sixth Placed Pine Crest 400 metre freestyle relay team From left to right Vale,Nico Ferrara Elvis Kotikovski and Aruban Daniel Jacobs Photo courtesy of Pine Crest Swimming

His 400 metre freestyle relay team placed 6th overall in 3:36.05  while the 400 metre medley team was 5th in 3:57.65

400 medley relay PC 5th N Vale
Fifth placed Pine Crest 400 metre medley relay from left to right Kotikovski,Ferrara,Jacob Silberman and Vale Photo courtesy of Pine Crest Swimming

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Nicholas he spoke about his achievement

“I actually didn’t know what the 15-17 400 free Jamaican National record was prior to the race. I found out afterwards that I had broken it by a second. I was very pleased with the swim considering that I still have two years left in the 15-17 age group to lower that 400 free record and hopefully break many more.

During the race I felt very controlled and smooth. My goal going into the race was to keep my splits as close as possible and I was successful in doing so. I was very pleased to have finally dropped my time of 4:15.57 from a year ago at the 2016 CISC Championships. I believe that all of my technique work along with the grueling distance sets have attributed to my success in this event. After this swim I plan on doing a lot more 400 specific pace”.




As draftingthecaribbean continues to highlight the top performances of swimmers from the region we look the performance of Bahamian Victoria Russell who made her first international final in the 100 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games in her home country.

The swimming competition ran from July 19 to July 22 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre. Russell competed in the 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre breaststroke races before her historic swim .She was just outside of making the finals with personal best time of 28.93 for 10th place and 34.40 for 9th place.

Victoria Russell
Victoria Russell finalist in the women’s 100 metre breaststroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games

She would make no mistake in the 100 metre breaststroke shattering her personal best time of 1:17.23 with a 1:14.75 to book her place in the final with teammate Lilly Higgs. In the final on Friday July 21 she was just off that time placing 8th in 1:14.82.Victoria would end the competition with another tenth placing finishing 10th in another personal best time of 27.33.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Victoria on July 27 she gave her thoughts on the build-up to the race and then the Championship final

At first I was rather surprised because in the 50 metre breaststroke I was first alternate and it was by a mere 3 hundredths of a second it was so close. I was upset that I did not get to swim the 50 breaststroke final. So going into the 100 the next day I was really focused on making the final. I honestly thought the prelims were better than the finals because in the final I was the 8th seed so I had no one to the left side of me so I was only in the race at one perspective. So I went out with the majority of the field. As I turned and looked to see the race I saw quite a few ahead of me and that discouraged me a bit from swimming my best  because I was going against a number of good competitors think that played on me a bit mentally.”

She also spoke about what she has learnt from this experience

“The thing I learnt the most is seeing how dedicated the swimmers were in terms of how they were getting ready for their races and their preparation compared to what I was doing and I saw how I could improve on that”.

Victoria also spoke about her plans for next season

I will be trying to make the Commonwealth Games team (Gold Coast Queensland Australia April 4 to 18, 2018). If not hopefully I will be aiming for the CARIFTA team that will be held in Jamaica next year”.