The Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre is quiet and the pool is still now, but last weekend it was buzzing with record-breaking performances from stellar Bahamian swimmers at the Bahamas Aquatic Federation’s (BAF) 2019 REV National Swimming Championships.
The championships began last Thursday, June 20 and wrapped up on Sunday night, June 23. Several national records fell at the meet.
Marvin Johnson, YMCA WaveRunners 11-12 boys swimmer, had another great meet after returning home from the 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships held in Barbados, with 14 gold medals – 10 individual and four relays.
He won gold in all seven of his individual races at this meet to finish with the high-point award. He scored 63 points. Finishing behind him was Mako Aquatics’ Tristin Ferguson with 57 points.
Johnson won the 50, 100 and 200 meters (m) backstroke; 50m and 100m butterfly; and 50m and 100m freestyle.
He put his name in the record books in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
The 12-year-old had a good race in the 100m freestyle on Saturday night on his way to a time of 56.01 seconds.
He won over Ferguson whose time was 57.55 seconds. They were the only two swimmers to swim under a minute. Alpha Aquatics’ Caleb Ferguson swam 1:03.09 to finish third.
In the 50m freestyle race on Sunday night, the phenom swam 25.68 seconds to put his name in the books for a second time at the meet.
Second to Johnson was Tristin Ferguson. He swam 26.14 seconds. Mako’s Amauri Bonamy was third in 27.70 seconds.
“It was extremely exciting knowing that I have records in the records book and it is going to stay there for a little while. It’s exciting,” Johnson said.
He continued: “It was a good meet. I participated in seven individual events and I got seven individual gold medals. It was a good stepping stone going into CCCAN. It let me see where I am and what I need to correct.”
Skyler Smith, also of YMCA WaveRunners, inked her name in the record books in the 8-and-under girls 50m backstroke when she swam 39.46 seconds. The Grand Bahamian did it in the first final of the second session on the first day.
In that race she held off Alpha Aquatics Club’s Siann Isaacs who posted a time of 40.61 to finish second. Barracuda’s Swim Club’s Alissa Ferguson covered the distance in 41.89 seconds to finish third.
In addition to inking her name in the record books, she also won the high-point award in her age category with 48 points. Saleste Gibson of Alpha Aquatics was the runner-up with 46 points.
DaVante Carey, who swam under Mako, the overall winner of the meet, had to dig deep to put his name in the record books in the 15 and over boys 50m backstroke swim.
He swam a record-breaking time of 26.46 seconds to win that race.
Freeport Aquatics Club’s Lamar Taylor touched the wall second to post a time of 27.14 seconds. Alpha Aquatics’ Armando Moss was third, in a time of 28.02 seconds.
Carey had a great meet overall. Twenty minutes after his record-breaking performance, he was up against N’Nyn Fernander in the 100m butterfly in one of the most competitive races at the meet.
In that race he and Fernander were ahead of the other swimmers in what was a very close race. In the end, the 16-year-old swimmer had enough left in his tank to win the race with a time of 55.54 seconds, which was enough to surpass the Pan American “B” standard.
Fernander, who swam with the Barracudas, was second in 55.85 seconds. He also met the Pan American “B” standard. Third place went to Ian Pinder, Carey’s teammate. He was almost two seconds behind Fernander to finish the race in 57.78 seconds.
Mako’s 15 and over boys 200m freestyle relay team won gold later that night with Carey anchoring them. They swam that race in 1:36.61.
Speaking about his first day’s performance, Carey said, “I started off my first race with a record in the 50m backstroke, then I went on to the 100m butterfly 20 minutes later, where I beat one of the Bahamian giants, N’Nhyn Fernander. I got the Pan Am ‘B’ cut in the 100m butterfly. I had the relay that night, it was a moment. We were not supposed to win, we were supposed to come third on paper. We ended up winning.”
On Saturday night, Carey and his 200m medley relay team set a new record. His team also included Pinder, Kierro Stubbs and Kohen Kerr. They swam the race in a time of 1:46.12. They were too much for the Alpha Aquatics’ team, who were right behind them with a time of 1:46.50.
The YMCA WaveRunners team finished third in 1:53.92 to win the bronze medal.
Another impressive swimmer at the meet was Freeport Aquatics’ Zoe Williamson in the 9-10 girls. She won five individual races – two of them were national records. She also won high-point in her age category after scoring 58 points. Passion Daniel of YMCA WaveRunners was the runner up with 55 points.
Williamson got the national record in the 100m butterfly final on the first day with a record time of 1:14.79. She had a sizeable lead on YMCA WaveRunners’ Zizou Salting, who finished the race in 1:22.64.
Finishing third was Mako’s Rayven Ward. She recorded a time of 1:25.94.
Williamson’s second record-breaking performance came in the 50m butterfly swim preliminaries on Saturday morning. She swam 32.46 seconds in her heat. She swam a slower time of 32.91 seconds in the final that night, but still won the gold medal in that race.
Daniel was the silver medalist in a time of 33.48 seconds. Ward was third as she touched the wall in 34.75 seconds.
Her other three victories came in the 200m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and the 100m freestyle.
It was a good swim in the pool for the Barracudas’ 8 and under girls 200m freestyle relay team on Thursday night. The team of Madyson Julien, Alissa Ferguson, Dayna Ingraham and Christin-Alyssa Clarke swam 2:34.24.
Second to them was the Alpha Aquatic team in a distant 2:40.35. The YMCA WaveRunners team finished third with a time of 2:41.85.
Tristen Hepburn came down from Grand Bahama and stayed perfect in his seven individual races as he represented YMCA WaveRunners in the 9-10 boys category. He was superb on his way to winning high-point in that age category with 63 points. Dolphin Swim Club’s Donald Saunders was second with 52 points.
Hepburn won the 50 and 100m backstroke, 50m and 100m and butterfly, 50m and 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley (IM). He got the national record in the 100m backstroke and breaststroke.
The 10-year-old clocked 1:17.27 to put his name in the record books as he won comfortably over Saunders.
Saunders’ time was 1:18.12. Mako’s Anish Roy was third with 1:24.53 on the clock.
On the final day, Hepburn took another national record back with him to Grand Bahama. It was in the 100m breaststroke. He was too much for his competitors as he dominated his competition en route to a time of 1:21.34.
Silver medalist Will Farrington, of the Barracudas, touched the wall 10 seconds later with an official time of 1:31.90. Freeport Aquatics’ Ayden Bain rounded out the top three finishers in that race with a time of 1:35.45.
Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson, CARIFTA and Alpha Aquatics’ swimmer, broke the national record in the 13-14 200m freestyle on Friday night. The long distance swimmer clocked 2:09.33. Apart from getting the record, Thompson finished with the high-point award in her age category. She scored 61 points overall. Finishing second was Lyford Cay Swim Club’s Delaney Mizell with 55 points.
Thompson swam a strong and focused race as she powered her way over Mizell. For Mizell, her time was 2:16.56 as she won the silver medal. The Barracudas’ Sarah Singh was third after swimming 2:18.54.
Thompson also holds the national record in the 11-12 girls 200m freestyle race with a time of 2:15.10. She set that time back in 2017.
On Saturday night, Mizell got her revenge on Thompson in the 100m freestyle. Mizell posted a time of 59.39 seconds. It turned out to be a new national record in that race.
Thompson was right behind her to record a time of 59.92 seconds. The YMCA WaveRunners’ Dedrie Higgs was third in 1:01.61.
Mizell also cracked the record books again. She did it in the 50m freestyle sprint on Sunday night. Her time in that event was a blistering 27.07 seconds.
She won over the YMCA WaveRunners’ Dedrie Higgs and Mako’s Rachel Lundy. Higgs was second with a time of 28.12 seconds. Lundy’s time of 28.19 seconds was good enough for third.
Like his teammates Hepburn and Marvin Johnson, Nigel Forbes was a perfect 7-for-7 at the meet in his individual races in the 13-14 boys category. He won gold in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly; 50m and 100m breast; and 50m and 100m freestyle. In addition to winning seven gold medals, he was also the high-point winner in that age category with 63 points. Mako’s Erald Thompson III was the runner up with a score of 56 points.
Forbes set the national record in the 200m butterfly race on Saturday morning. The 13-year-old was too much for his counterparts as he swam a blistering 2:12.61 and waited on the next competitor to touch the wall.
Mako’s Jared Reckley came in nearly 17 seconds later, posting a time of 2:29.35. Barracudas’ Hodari Prince finished third as he swam 2:33.49.
Forbes said, “It felt good because I know I worked hard to get that record.”
The BAF is sending a 28-member team that includes 23 athletes to Barbados to participate in the Central America and Caribbean Amateur Confederation (CCCAN). The team leaves for Barbados today.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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