A team of 15 swimmers from the Stingray Swim Club on Grand Cayman travelled to Jamaica to compete in the Walter Rodgers Age Group swimming championships which took place from 19 to 22 February.
Under the watchful eye of coach Dominic Ross and trip manager Dunstan Groome the swimmers achieved some remarkable performances against some of the best swim clubs in Jamaica.
The event was held in Jamaica’s National Stadium pool, with age group competitors aged from eight and under to Masters, with competitors up to 55 years old.
The youngest swimmer in the Stingray team was eight year old Stefanie Boothe, who earned five personal bests in her five starts, even though this was her first experience in a 50 metre pool.
The Stingray team did exceptionally well in the first session, thanks in no small part to the squad’s strength in the distance events.
Danielle Boothe, competing in the 11-12 age group, kicked her meet off on a high note, taking a win in the first event of the competition, the 50 metre butterfly in a new meet record time. Coral Tomascik claimed another first place finish for the Stingray club, setting a meet record in the 800 metre freestyle. Ariana Bain took first in the 800 metres freestyle for girls 13-14, with Christopher and Matthew Courtis claiming a one-two in the 1500 metre freestyle event for boys 13-14, just .37 of a second apart. The Stingray swimmers were also imperious in the 200 metre individual medley event, with Joshua Bain, Seiji Groome and Danielle Boothe claiming wins in their respective age groups.
The first session was also a first 50 metre pool experience for Alec Cox, who really rose to the occasion.
The Stingray team found itself in second place overall after the first night of competition against nine top Jamaican swim clubs.
The second session again delivered some excellent results for the club. The 200 metre backstroke events delivered six top three finishes for Cayman, with Danielle Boothe claiming the win in girls 11-12 followed by Coral Tomascik in third, Joshua Bain and Christopher Courtis going one-two in boys 13-14, Chelsea Nelson taking second in girls 15-plus and Seiji Groome claiming third in boys 15-plus. Andrew Smiley also claimed an excellent fourth place.
The 400 metre individual medley also produced some good results, with Danielle Boothe and Christopher Courtis taking their respective events, even though Matthew Courtis pushed his brother all the way, finishing a mere .02 of a second down.
The 200 metre freestyle events delivered more podium finishes for the team, with Coral Tomascik, Joshua Bain, Ariana Bain and Seiji Groome all claiming second in their respective age groups.
Danielle Boothe continued her impressive showing in the 50 metre breaststroke, taking a win and setting a new Jamaican national age group record in the process.
The third session started with the 400 metre freestyle, with Ariana Bain and Seiji Groome claiming wins and Coral Tomascik Joshua Bain, Matthew Courtis and Andrew Smiley all claiming podium spots.
In the 50 metre back stroke, Danielle Boothe and Joshua Bain claimed wins, with Stefanie Boothe and Coral Tomascik also claiming podium places.
In the 100 metre back stroke Chelsea Nelson and Seiji Groome claimed wins.
Stefanie Boothe delivered another podium finish in the 50 butterfly, while in the 200 breaststroke Danielle Boothe and Coral Tomascik went one-two in the girls 11-12 group, with Chelsea Nelson also delivering a podium spot.
However, because of the Stingray team’s small size, the team did not contest the relays. With relays counting double points, this meant that the team started to slide back somewhat in the overall standings against the other much bigger teams.
The fourth session again delivered some good results for the Stingray club.
In the 100 metre freestyle, Coral Tomascik, Joshua Bain and Seiji Groome all claimed podium finishes. In the 50 metre backstroke Joshua Bain claimed a win, with Danielle Boothe, Coral Tomascik and Chelsea Nelson all claiming top finishes. The 100 butterfly delivered another win for Danielle Boothe, with Matthew Courtis also claiming a podium spot.
The final session held some more great results in store for the Stingray team. In the 200 metre butterfly, Matthew Courtis claimed a win with Seiji Groome claiming another podium spot.
In the 100 metre breaststroke Danielle Boothe and Seiji Groome delivered wins, with Joshua Bain and Christopher Courtis going one-two and Chelsea Nelson also delivering a podium. In the final individual event of the day, the 50 metre freestyle, Danielle Boothe claimed yet another win, with Joshua Bain delivering a podium spot.
Overall, the Stingray Swim Club finished in fourth place overall, with Danielle Boothe and Seiji Groome taking the high point awards in their respective age groups. Danielle Boothe also three Jamaican national age group records and claimed the FINA points award in her age group with her performance in the 50 metre breaststroke.
Coach Dominic Ross was very happy with the performance of the team.
‘The team all did extremely well, smashing their personal bests in multiple events and reaping the benefits of all of their hard work in training. Chelsea Nelson made a welcome return to the team after an extended 5 year absence and performed admirably. Our Jamaican friends always provide an excellent level of competition and are amazing hosts so we always look forward to their meets.’
The next local swim meet, the Consolidated Water age group and Carifta trials meet, has been rescheduled with the first session set to take place on Wednesday 11 March, followed by sessions on Friday 13 March, Saturday 14 March and Sunday 15 March. Swimmers can sign up online at www.caymanswimming.com or at the pool.
This weekend will see the coaches take their turn to show the swimmers they can walk the walk as well as they can talk the talk. Jason Schmidt and Dominic Ross will take on the challenge of swimming across North Sound from Rum Point to Barkers Head. The original plan was to do the swim last weekend, but due to a bout of flu Ross could not be tempted out of bed on Sunday morning and the swim was postponed to this weekend. The approximately seven mile swim should take the swimmers between three and four hours to complete. Boaters out there to support the swimmers are reminded to stay behind them so as not to interfere with their crossing attempt.