Laura Marley made an Olympic ‘B’ cut in the 200 meters (m) breaststroke and three other top Bahamian swimmers were in action at the 2019 Toyota U.S. Open Swimming Championships that concluded this past weekend at the Georgia Tech McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Also in action were Joanna Evans, Izaak Bastian and Lilly Higgs, competing with over 1,300 swimmers at the meet.
Morley was in the pool for three races, the 200m Individual Medley (IM) and the 100 and 200m breaststroke events.
Her best race of the three was the 200m breast where she was in fine form, smashing her own national record in the heats. She finished in 2:27.83, and her previous record was 2:30.21 that she set in August of his year at the 18th Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“The purpose of competing in U.S. Open was to gain more racing experience against very tough competition while being able to perform at a high level under those constraints. Being able to break my own Bahamas record, gain an Olympic ‘B’ cut was amazing, and making the ‘A’ final exceeded all my expectations,” Morley said.
In the final, Morley clocked 2:28.38 to finish sixth overall, again going under her former national record time. American Emily Escobedo won that race in 2:22. She held off fellow American Lilly King who swam 2:22.63. Annie Lazor, another American, was third in 2:23.25.
“My ultimate goal in the prelims was to go out and have fun racing but still try to put myself in the best position to perform,” Morley said. “I was in a great prelims heat with a lot of competition and knew that if I wanted to make the ‘A’ final, I had to race some fast girls. It was such great exposure and experience for me to race in the ‘A’ final alongside two of my teammates (Lilly King and Annie Lazor) but also against some great competition.”
In the 200m IM, Morley touched the wall in 2:20.17 to finish 79th overall. In the 100m breast, she swam in heat seven where she recorded a time of 1:10.46 and finished 25th overall.
Morley said that two things she has taken from the meet are that she has to trust the process and her training, and also to live in the moment.
Higgs swam in two events—the 100 and 200m breast. She was masterful in her 100m breast heat when she swam to a new national record of 1:09.52. It was the 14th best time recorded in the heats. That time erased her sister’s former national record of 1:10.03 that was set last year July. Her sister, Margaret Albury Higgs, didn’t compete at the meet yesterday. Lilly Higgs swam 1:09.92 on Friday in the ‘B’ final and placed seventh. Winning that race was Melissa Rodriguez, of Mexico, in a time of 1:08.36. Silja Kansakosk, of Finland, and Sophie Angus, of Canada, were second and third respectively. Kansakosk swam 1:08.98 and Angus’ time was 1:09.01.
In the 200m breast, Higgs made the ‘C’ final after swimming 2:33.35 in her heat. Unlike the 100m breast, she lowered her heats time in her ensuing race, finishing first in the ‘C’ final in 2:31.23. Finishing behind her was American Kate Steward who clocked 2:31.63. Another American, Mackenzie Duarte, was third in 2:32.63.
Bastian was the youngest and the only male of the Bahamian quartet at the meet. He swam in three races—the 100 and 200m breast and the 50m freestyle. Bastian made the ‘D’ finals for all three races.
Bastian went into the 100m breast ‘D’ final with a time of 1:02.76. Bastian won the ‘D’ final race in a time of 1:03.51. He finished ahead of George Aspougalis, of Greece, who was second in 1:03.94. Finishing third was American Dylan Rhee in a time of 1:04.05.
In the 50m freestyle, Bastian clocked 23.49 seconds to finish tied for third in his ‘D’ finals race after swimming 23.66 seconds in the heats. Winning that race was American Connor Boyle in 23.17 seconds. Jack Dolan, also of the United States, was second in 23.40 seconds.
In the 200m breaststroke, Bastian finished 45th overall in 2:20.90.
Joanna Evans swam in one event, the 200m freestyle, and made the ‘C’ final. She swam 2:02.11 in the heats but had a tougher time in the ‘C’ finals where she touched the wall in 2:03.88 for seventh. Winning that race was American Micayla Cronk in 2:00.21. Meaghan Raab, also of the United States, touched the wall in 2:00.32 for second. Finishing third was another American, Claire Tuggle, in 2:03.88.
Late last month, Davante Carey broke a 15-year old national record in the 100m backstroke when he clocked 58.12 seconds at the Purdue Invite Long Course Trials at the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Indiana. The previous holder of that record was Christopher Vythoulkas who clocked 58.31 seconds at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
As the time draws closer to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, more Bahamian swimmers will be in action trying to qualify. The next meet on the local swimming calendar is the Mako Aquatics Meet set for Saturday December 14 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Complex.