Sports

Bahamian swimmers earn CSCAA All-American honors

A total of six collegiate Bahamian swimmers earned their spots on the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-American list for their performances in the swimming pool for the 2019-2020 season.

This list was released this past Sunday on the CSCAA website.

Earning their spots were Albury and Lilly Higgs, Izaak Bastian, Jared Fitzgerald, DaVante Carey and Tyler Russell.

This year was unique in the CSCAA selection of its All-American honorees. This year there were no National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Swimming Championships except for a partial one at the division two level. The NCAA Division II (DII) meet was canceled midway through the second day of competition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the CSCAA board adjusted its selection criteria.

In NCAA Division I (DI), CSCAA All-Americans criteria stipulates that individual swimmers had to be selected to the NCAA Championships, and relay teams had to have achieved the ‘A’ standard.

This year was Albury Higgs’ third straight year as a CSCAA All-American. The senior at the University of South Carolina received the honor for her performance in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events this season. She was one of eight South Carolina Gamecocks swimmers to receive the honor.

Higgs was selected to swim in both events at the NCAA DI Swimming Championships. In the 100 yards breast, her seed time was 59.75 seconds – the 31st fastest time in DI. In the 200 yards breast, she clocked a season’s best of 2:08.85 to earn a spot at the DI Championships. It was also the 31st fastest time in DI.

Both times were ‘B’ standard times for the NCAAs.

Bastian had a good sophomore year for the Florida State University Seminoles. He received the All-American honors for his efforts in the 100 yards breast and the 400 yards medley relay. This was the second straight year the sophomore swimmer earned a CSCAA All-American honor. He was honored for the 200 yard medley relay last year. Bastian was one of 15 Seminoles to receive the honor this year.

Bastian qualified for the DI Championships in the 100-yard breast after recording a season’s best time of 52.36 seconds. That time was the 26th fastest time in the country and was a ‘B’ standard time. It was also the sophomore’s first time qualifying for the championships individually.

The sophomore’s 400 yards medley relay team was special this year as they won the silver medal at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships with an automatic qualifying ‘A’ standard time of 3:05.62. His three other teammates were Griffin Alaniz, Max McCusker and Peter Varjasi.

The final Bahamian to receive CSCAA All-American honor in division one was the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels’ Lilly Higgs. She received the honor for the 100-yard breast.

She was set to swim against her sister Albury Higgs in that event at the NCAA DI Championships. The sophomore clocked a season’s best time of 59.92 seconds, achieving the NCAA ‘B’ standard and was seeded at number 37.

There were 14 Tar Heels who were CSCAA All-Americans this year.

Like DI, the DII selection criteria had to be altered. In contested events, the top eight finalists were named to the first team. The individual and relay qualifiers selected for the championship were all named All-American.

Fitzgerald, who swam for the University of Tampa Spartans, received All-American honors in the 100-yard freestyle, the 400 and 800-yard free relay and received honorable mention in the 400 yards medley relay.

In the 100 yards freestyle, Fitzgerald, a junior, was the number seven seeded swimmer with a ‘B’ standard time of 43.93 seconds. He won gold with that time at the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championships.

Back in February he was named to the 2020 All-SSC Team. He helped lead the Spartans men to their first state championship.

Fitzgerald’s 400 yards free relay team clocked 2:57.03 to achieve the ‘B’ standard for the meet. They had the seventh fastest time in DII. The 800 yards free relay team had the second fastest time in DII with a time of 6:31.72. Fitzgerald and his 400 yards medley relay time were ranked at number 13 in DII with a time of 3:14.58.

He was one of 22 Spartans that were All-American.

Carey is a freshman for the McKendree University Bearcats. He received the All-American honor for his performances in the 100 yards backstroke, 200 and 400 yards medley relays.

In the 100 yards backstroke, Carey went into the DII Championships seeded at number nine with a time of 47.81 seconds.

Carey and his teammates John Heaphy, Gregg Lichinsky and Alexander Skinner were the DII 200 yards medley relay national champions when they clocked 1:25.29. It was the first time the Bearcats won the national title in that event and it was the fastest time in DII for the year.

In that race, Carey catapulted his way to the second fastest time in DII with a fast 21.45 seconds split in the 50-yard backstroke portion of that race.

In the 400-yard medley relay, Carey and his team posted a time of 3:12.06 to finish with the third fastest time in DII.

The freshman was part of 15 Bearcats who got an All-American nod.

In NCAA Division III, selections for All-American are based on those individuals and relays selected to the championships and are members of the CSCAA.

Russell swims for the Emory University Eagles in the NCAA Division III (DIII). He received the CSCAA All-American honor for his performances in the individual 100 yards breast and the 200 yards medley relay.

In the 100 yards breast, he swam a time of 54.77 seconds to finish with the 11th fastest time among DIII swimmers.

The sophomore and his 200 yards medley relay team also posted the 11th fastest time in DIII in 1:29.17. That time was accomplished at the Denison Invitational back in December 2019.

He was one of 34 Eagles to receive an All-American honor. This was his second year on the CSCAA All-American list. He received the honor last year for his performance in 200 yards medley relay.

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