The third Mako Aquatics Swim Meet is in the books, and although there were no new qualifiers for the Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) Swimming Cup, there were some national records broken by Grand Bahamians Marvin Johnson Jr. and Skyler Smith. The meet was held at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Center this past Saturday. The UANA Swimming Cup is set for February 21-23, 2020 at the Videna Aquatic Complex in Lima, Peru.
Travano McPhee, meet organizer and head coach of Mako Aquatics, said that he was happy with the turnout from the Grand Bahamian clubs.
“It was a good meet. We had very good turnout from the Freeport (Grand Bahama) clubs. This is the last meet qualifier for UANA and this is one of the last meets for some of the swimmers aging up in January,” McPhee said. “This is their last chance to qualify or break a national record or a Bahamas record in their current age groups. It was a good turnout. The weather was a little off this morning but thanks to prayers, it cleared up. There were some good swims.”
Johnson, who swam with the Wave Runners Swim Club out of Freeport, Grand Bahama, carted off the high point trophy in the 11-12 boys division with 63 points. Finishing second to him was Amauri Bonamy of Mako Aquatics with 50 points.
Johnson left his mark in that age group. He set new records in the 800 meters (m) freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 50m butterfly and the 400m individual medley (IM) for the 11-12 boys division.
“I know that this is the last meet for 2019 and this being my last year in the 11-12 age group, I went for as much records as possible. Out of the six events that I did, I came out with three records I think,” Johnson said.
In the 800m freestyle, Johnson lowered Nigel Forbes’ time of 9:42.99 to 9:36.13 as he touched the wall first. It was a relaxing swim for him as his closest competitor finished the race more than a minute behind him. That competitor was William Feaste from Mako Aquatics who recorded a time of 11:04.84. Finishing third was Tafari Fountain in a time of 11:20.53.
Johnson was the only competitor in the 1500m freestyle but that did not stop him as he swam against the clock. His record-breaking time in that event was 18:08.56. The previous record was held by Matthew Lowe, a time of 19:04.20 that was set back in 2007.
Johnson said training regimen took a break for a while after the passage of Hurricane Dorian back in September.
“Right after the hurricane, it was a slow process getting back into the pool. The pool was full of saltwater. At first no one was thinking about swimming – we were just looking for everyone to be alright,” Johnson said. “Once we got back in the water, we really went into a hard mode. It is just good for me to be able to come back from after all those weeks off to be able to still swim fast.”
It was a blistering swim from Johnson in the 50m fly. He finished the race in a record-breaking time of 27.09 seconds. The previous record was held by his training partner, Nigel Forbes – a time of 27.63 seconds.
Mako Aquatics’ Amauri Bonamy was second to Johnson, finishing in 30.54 seconds. Jarrod Charles of Alpha Aquatics was third in 31.02 seconds.
Johnson wasn’t done yet. He swam in the 400m IM and lowered Forbes’ record of 5:08.36 to 5:03.10. Johnson won that race comfortably over Mako Aquatics’ Tristin Ferguson. Ferguson’s time was 5:35.52. The Barracuda Swim Club’s Matthias Simms posted a time of 6:06.07 to finish third.
Apart from those record-breaking performances, Johnson also swam and won the 50m free, 100m back and 200m fly races at the meet.
The 12-year-old reflected on his year that included winning 14 total gold medals at CARIFTA, breaking multiple national records in his age group, dominating the 2019 REV Bahamas National Swimming Championships and also winning gold medals at the Central America and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) Championships in the summer.
He also has the national records for his age group in the 50m free, 100m free, 200m free, 400m free and the 200m IM races.
“The 14 gold medals is the biggest thing for me. It was a really good year,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of training and hard work but I knew that this year was based on getting into 13-14 (division) and being strong, and showing people that I am not just a one hit wonder and that I can still do good in the higher age group. It is my mission that next year I prove my worth and swim fast times.”
Johnson’s younger teammate at the Wave Runners Swim Club, seven-year old Skyler Smith, also had a great meet, winning the 8-and-under girls high point trophy with 55 points. Finishing second to her was Alpha Aquatics’ Saleste Gibson with 48 points. Kimaya Saunders, who represented Freeport Aquatics Club, was third with 24 points.
Smith broke the national record in the 8-and-under girls division when she sprinted across the pool in the 50m fly in 37.68 seconds. Zoe Williamson held the previous record of 38.17 seconds.
Gibson was second behind her with a time of 39.68 seconds, and the Barracuda’s Christin-Alyssa Clarke was third, posting a time of 40.93 seconds.
Smith also holds her age group national record in the 50m back.
McPhee has been the national coach for the CARIFTA team for the past several years and said he is impressed with the times and performance from the juniors.
“It’s only December. We have three or four months to get ready for CARIFTA,” McPhee said.
“It is always good to see swimmers performing well and doing best times, breaking records. That shows us that we are really setting up ourselves to have a very good CARIFTA again – hopefully go there and win four straight and six out of the last seven.”
Other division high point winners were the Wave Runners’ Kaylan Williams (8-and-under boys); the Wave Runners’ Seannia Norville-Smith (11-12 girls); Mako Aquatics’ Keianna Moss (13-14 girls); Mako Aquatics’ Brayden Dam (13-14 boys); Mako Aquatics’ Kaliyah Albury (15-and-over girls); and Lamar Taylor (15-and-over boys).
This was the second straight year that Aliv was the title sponsor of the meet. McPhee thanked Aliv and the other sponsors of the event namely McDonald’s, Bay Shore Management Services and the D’Albenas Agency for their contribution to swimming in the country and the youth of the nation.
With the local swim meets wrapped up for the calendar year, young swimmers in the country are now looking forward to 2020. The first meet for 2020 will be the ORCA Swim Meet set for January 18 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Center.