Bahamian junior swimmer Lamar Taylor made history at the Sandwell Aquatics Center in Londonderry, Smethwick, England, on Tuesday, becoming the first Bahamian male to advance to the 50 meters (m) freestyle final at the Commonwealth Games.
The swimmer, who turned 19 years old in June, powered his way to touch the wall in a personal best time of 22.45 seconds in the fastest of the semifinal heats to qualify for the final tonight. He swam 22.59 seconds in the heats in the morning session.
Other than Taylor, DaVante Carey and Katelyn Cabral were in the pool for The Bahamas. The 4x100m medley relay team of Carey, Lilly Higgs, Cabral and Taylor, competed. On the judo mat, Cynthia Rahming and Andrew Munnings were in action, and in athletics, LaQuan Nairn, TyNia Gaither, Denisha Cartwright and Jahmaal Wilson were set to compete.
Taylor said walking up to the starting blocks was exciting. He said he was lost for words about how he felt about making the final.
“I have mixed emotions. I’m happy and very excited,” Taylor said.
The Henderson State University swimmer swam out of lane six. A total of five swimmers qualified from Taylor’s second semifinal heat which had the host country’s Benjamin Proud clocking 21.63 seconds for a victory. Taylor was fourth in his heat and qualified for the final with the seventh-fastest time.
“I was shocked,” Taylor said. “I had a rough start but I kept on fighting and pushed on for my 22.45 seconds. As soon as I touched the wall, I knew that once I finished fourth or higher I had a high chance of qualifying for the final because it was the fastest of the two. I tried to stay close to the top three guys,” Taylor said.
The main thing that Taylor said he is looking to do in tonight’s final is to stay relaxed. He said that he feels strong in the water and good off the blocks. Vereance Burrows holds the Bahamian national record of 22.39 seconds. Taylor said lowering that time has been on his mind but he will not be upset if he does not go under it as he is just focused on swimming to the best of his ability.
His final gets underway at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Carey was in action in the 200m backstroke in heat three. He placed sixth with a time of 2:12.22. Winning that heat was Australia’s Joshua Edwards-Smith who swam 1:58.74. Cabral was eighth in her 50m backstroke heat recording a time of 32.27 seconds. Canada’s Kylie Masse clocked 27.57 seconds to win that fourth heat. Neither Bahamian swimmer advanced.
In the medley relay, The Bahamas placed 11th overall with a time of 4:08.80. Australia had the fastest time in the heats – 3:45.34.
Nairn was brilliant in the long jump pit in Group A in the qualifying rounds for The Bahamas. He placed second in the group when he leapt 7.90m (25’ 11”) on his third and final jump to qualify for the final. India’s Sreeshankar Sreeshankar was first place with a leap of 8.05m (26’ 5”).
Fresh off an appearance at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships, sprinter TyNia Gaither was in action in the women’s 100m. She qualified for the semifinals after placing second in her heat with a time of 11.19 seconds. Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye won that heat with a time of 11.14 seconds.
Also running in the women’s 100m was Cartwright. She clocked 11.85 seconds which was not good enough to send her to the semifinals. St Lucia’s Julien Alfred clocked 11.24 seconds to win that heat.
Wilson was disqualified in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Rahming and Munnings both lost their matches on the judo mat. Rahming lost to Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard in the quarterfinals. She then lost to Jamaica’s Lauren Semple in the repechage. Munnings lost to England’s Daniel Powell.
Bahamians return to action today in swimming and athletics as the 2022 Commonwealth Games continues in Birmingham, England.