Continuing a long tradition, the Lions National Sprint Championship Meet at the Lions Aquatic Center was once again a display of competition, health and fun.
110 competitors ranged tiny to adult, from near and far. The Brac swimmers turned out in force, coming off the Lions Meet recently held there. None of the competitors paid any entry fees, thanks to the Lions.
After the Lions produced one of their breakfast feasts, Alden McLaughlin, wearing both his Sports Minister ‘hat’ and a Lion who has worked the meet in past years, made some opening remarks.
The first Lions swim meet for children, was in 1975 in the sea, started by Lion Lenny Hew. The Lions pool passed the 20 year mark last January.
Swimmer Michael Lockwood led the prayer, eight year old Isabella Rooney created near magic as she sang the National Song beautifully, solo.
Lion Steve Surrey and Stingray Swim Club’s Catherine Philip, Meet Director, combined their teams to put on yet another big meet. National Coach Dominic Ross commented, ‘It is great to see the number of swimmers turning out for these local competitions continue to increase. The results and the level of participation show that there are once again exciting times ahead for swimming in the Cayman Islands, as we continue to rebuild the program from the ground up.’
The variety of swimmer size and ability was apparent throughout the morning. Four year olds Marcos Bertran and William Scott stepped up and performed valiantly, and many Brac youngsters got their first 25 metre pool experience. Six year old Lauren Vernon was hesitant to enter her first race, then enjoyed it so much, she happily stepped up for her other races.
At the other end of the spectrum were Olympians and other swim program graduates home from their university swim teams, visiting friends, and Masters trying to qualify for a world event. All of which made for quite some height contrast and added spice to the competition.
He said with more pool space and coaching it could all come together for Brac swimmers. ‘It was a pleasure, as always, to come to the Lions Meet. It was well run and good competition, a lot of fun and great experience. I just wish the kids got the opportunity more often. I’m proud or all our swimmers, tickled with how often Brac kids made it into the top five. A big thanks to the Lions and Stingray Swim Club for the opportunity.’
The hot mornings events started with a wonderful display of butterfly by two ‘6&Unders’ each, girls and boys, then two heats each of ‘8&Unders’.
In the 7-8 year age group, Simon Butler lowered the club short course record in the 100m Individual Medley. That group of boys is wonderfully competitive, getting faster and more proficient all the time. Simon and Iain McCallum are closely matched, dominated most of the 8&Under boys events, but Michael Matthews and Ryan Barnett led the backstroke event.
Eight year old Hannah Myrie already displays a pretty butterfly stroke, Coral Tomascik won four of her 5 events. Isabella Rooney, Martha Rivers and Shaina Tibbetts all put in a strong showing, and many newcomers show great promise.
Always smiling Danielle Booth dominates the 9-10 girls age group. Bethany Cleaver, young in her age group, placed second in all of her events. Brac-ers Hayley Grizzel and Shanelle Frederick swam strong and would be challenging if they had the opportunity to compete here more often, as would Ed Baker, who earned a 4th and three 5th places.
Nine year old Dean Addleson swam his first Individual Medley event and looked proficient, especially in the butterfly. Geoffrey Butler led four of five events.
Wonderful competition in the 11-12 girls group, led by Amanda Shum and Lara Butler battling evenly, each winning two of the four strokes. Despite a gallant effort from Shum, Butler took the 100m Individual Medley. It was Arianna Bain however, who had the largest percentage improvement per event.
Twelve year old Sieji Groome achieved several ‘A’ times. A welcome return by Michelle Philip saw her win several events despite being back in the water for only three months. Philip and Alexa Robertson managed to finish the 50m freestyle in exactly the same time (32.27). Peter Stasiuk produced some great times.
Amongst the older swimmers, Brett Fraser pushed Andrew Mackay in the backstroke, and college sophomore Jennifer Powell had junior Heather Roffey’s number in the Individual Medley. Felix Ebanks proved a stalwart, resolutely finishing all five events with strength. Visiting college student Jenny Basel lowered three pool records; 50 back, butterfly and breaststroke.
The Master swimmers who stepped onto the blocks had to compete against the young and fit, their goal being to qualify for FINA World Master Swim Champs being held in San Francisco later this year.
All three, Jeanine Rix, David MacDonald and Ian Washbrooke qualified in their chosen events. Washbrooke even swam his way to a third place in the 50m freestyle proving that strength comes with age! They all thoroughly enjoyed the meet and it was clear the youngsters found their presence entertaining.
Another, even bigger swim weekend is coming mid June, including the Progressive Distributors Swim Meet run in 4 short sessions, the Flowers Mile Sea Swim Saturday afternoon, and officiating clinics from FINA visiting official, Errol Clarke. Forms are available on-line at www.caymanswimming.com and www.flowersseaswim.com as are Lions Sprint Meet results.