Swimmers pooled their resources to great effect

There were two CAFIFTA Games over
the Easter weekend. Cayman were successful in athletics here with Chantelle
Morrison taking 100 metres gold and in Jamaica the swimmers grabbed an
incredible nine, including three golds.

Sports minister Mark Scotland was
at the Owen Roberts Airport on Thursday to welcome them all home. Only one
missing was Tori Flowers who had returned to school in the US.  

The four-day meet ended on Tuesday
and the swimmers took a well deserved break the following day to sight see and
visit Jamaica’s number one tourist attraction Dunn’s River Falls.

Star of the show was Coral Tomascik
who got two golds, in the girls 11-12 200m breast stroke and 400m individual
medley. She also collected a silver in the 200m IM and bronze in the 100m back
stroke.

Lara Butler got Cayman’s other
gold, in the girls 15-17 200m fly.

The rest were bronzes, won by Tori
Flowers in the girls 13-14 800m, Geoffrey Butler (Lara’s brother) in the boys
13-14 1500m free and Lara again in the 400m IM.

Tomascik said: “I was expecting to
do well in some of my races but I was only hoping to get one medal and I did so
I was happy.” Quite an understatement!

Like the rest of the team she
trained extremely hard under the watchful eye of coach Dominic Ross.

Geoffrey Butler is a veteran of
four CARIFTAs at 14 and this was his first medal. “There weren’t so many
swimmers, it was one of the long events, but there were all fast and it was
tough.”

He was beaten by two Trinidadians,
a country that dominated the pool. Overall, Cayman did much better than last
year when they won five medals and scored 130 points. This time they got 180
points.

“Next year I’m moving up to the
15-17s so it will be harder.”

Lara Butler only lost by 0.3 of a
second for the silver in the 400m IM. She said: “That was tough for me but it
was to a friend of mine and she’s about to make the Olympic team for doing that
time.

“I’m looking forward to the CAC
Games and being around Shaune and Brett. They talk to you and they’re so
welcoming, you’d never think that they were actually Olympians.

Groome was disappointed with his
sole bronze but considering the personal grief he went through when his mother
Adora died of cancer two months ago, it’s a wonder that he swam at all.

“I missed a lot of training,”
Groome said. “You could tell. It caught up with me. You can’t always be
perfect. Everybody has to fall down some time.”

He shouldn’t be too hard on
himself. At 16 he was the youngest in his category and probably had the
heaviest heart.

“Next year I will redeem myself for
sure. At least I placed.”

Groome hopes to do better at the
Caribbean and Central Americas Games in Puerto Rico in July when he’ll swim
with Lara Butler and Olympic reps Shaune and Brett Fraser.

Ross said; “This was our best haul
in recent times. I put it down to a lot of hard work. These guys really stepped
it up. They put in a lot of hours. I’m excited not just for the number of
medals but also for the number of medallists.

“It was spread out amongst five
swimmers and they’re all coming back next year.

“We expected big things from some
of them but the younger ones also stepped up their times and put themselves
forward as challengers for next year, particularly the 11-12 year old girls.
They still have another year in that age group.”  

Ross said of Groome:
“Just being at the Games was a testament to his dedication and the fact that he
did two personal best times speaks volumes. There is no athlete that I’m more
proud of on this team for their accomplishments.”

SPORTSpeopleSTORY

Minister Scotland greeted the triumph team.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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