Cayman’s Olympic swimmer Shaune Fraser had plenty to celebrate last weekend.
It was his 21st birthday Sunday and he swam the second fastest 200-yard butterfly in history the night before. Only legendary Olympic champion Michael Phelps has had a faster time in the event.
Fraser was swimming for his Florida University Gators team in the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Championships at Texas A&M at College Station, Texas, when he broke the record in 1 minute 40.75 seconds.
Fraser finished just ahead of Georgia’s Mark Dylla, whose time was 1:40.85, in one of the tightest races in the event in NCAA history. Dylla joined Fraser and Michael Phelps (1:39.70) as the only swimmers under 1:41 in the history of the event.
‘This was Shaune’s breakthrough meet,’ said his father Jim Fraser. ‘His 200-yard fly was a big drop in time for him and was probably a bigger achievement than his silver medal at the Pan Am Games two years ago.’
Shaune’s brother Brett, 19, also swam at the meet in with some success in the relays. Mum Laurice deserves praise too for her huge support.
Jim hosted a lunchtime party at Legends restaurant on Wednesday so that family and friends could watch Shaune’s 200-yard fly triumph again on an ESPN broadcast on the plasma screens. Track coach Jerry Harper was there too.
Jim added: ‘The community has been very much behind Shaune since he was born. They’ve watched him grow up and monitored his progress since he started sea swims at the age of eight and been very supportive over the years, following his results.
‘Shaune’s so pleased. He now has a level of confidence whereby he knows he can compete against the world’s best. In my opinion he showed a level of mental toughness that he has never shown in the past. He now has a mental edge which shows some maturity.’
Both Frasers are preparing for the world championships in Rome, Italy in July. Could Shaune medal?
‘He’s been taught in the past not to focus on medals but just his own performance and medals will take care of themselves.’
In today’s issue on pages 30-31, Shaune has been voted Cayman’s fittest sportsman. Jim’s sure he will be happy with that.
‘All the other ones there are pretty fit but having been around sports for a long time I know swimmers generally are extremely fit.
‘These guys train for 51 weeks a year and are in the pool for 25 hours a week, plus all the dry land training, weights and gym work.
‘He’s fortunate to be at a world class facility with top line coaches, including Anthony Nesty (Olympic champion 1988).’
Family friend Sarah Dean Barnett has known the Fraser boys all their lives. ‘Shaune was a delightful child and I’ve watched him grow into a lovely young man,’ she said. ‘He is not just athletic and strong he is academically bright too. I’m very proud, as proud as if he was my own son.
‘I watched him learn to swim at Plantation Village pool with Brett. My daughter Dee is just a couple of years older than Shaune. Jim had to save her out of the swimming pool because she couldn’t swim and Brett took her under and kept her there.’
Harper said: ‘This is great credit to Shaune and Brett and the swimming association and all the time, dedication and finance Jim and Laurice have put into the boys’ education. This is great for Cayman.’
Is swimming now the strongest sport in Cayman?
Harper said: ‘I think there are many areas that are very strong. But we have had our greatest results internationally in track and field.
‘Swimming has been strong through Shaune and Brett and it’s coming into its own at collegiate level but we have had inter-collegiate success for many, many years in track and field.’
Jim said: ‘Brett did well too. This was his first NCAA. He didn’t qualify last year. He’s come on tremendously in the last year and a half. Brett made two B finals which means he’s top 16 and shows he has a bright future.