The swimming fraternity in the Cayman Islands is understandably thrilled at the moment.
Two of its most notable members, Shaune and Brett Fraser, are headed to their second consecutive Olympics next year in London. The Fraser brothers notched that achievement this summer competing in Shanghai, China and Palo Alto, California respectively.
Among the locals impressed with the Fraser brothers is national swimming coach Dominic Ross. A steady presence at the Lions Aquatic Centre (Cayman’s home for the sport of swimming), Ross states the milestone is important on many levels.
“Getting their qualifying standards out of the way is a big step,” Ross said.
“The pressure is off because you know you’re there (at the Olympics). Now they can go on to training for the big event. They’re going to get their meets in but they can fit in rest as well. I remember the first time Brett took part it was a big stress for him.
“It’s the first time we have two Cayman swimmers doing the same Olympic event (the 200 metre freestyle). It’s a big thing and a big step for Cayman. The kids look up to those guys. They put a lot of value on them and what they have done. It means a lot to see them support Brett and Shaune and have someone they can put on a pedestal so to speak. It’s a big motivational tool for sure.”
Shaune, 23, was the first of the Fraser brothers to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He had an A standard qualifying time of 1:47.73 in the 200m free semi-finals of the Fédération Internationale de Natation World Championships (against the likes of Michael Phelps). Brett, 21, then posted a 200m free time of 1:47.56 in the US Nationals (he also has qualified for the 50m and 100m free events).
Those marks ensure the George Town natives will represent Cayman on the Olympic stage for the second straight time. The brothers, who belong to Jim and Laurice Fraser, competed in Beijing in 2008.
Ross, who has worked with the Frasers in the past, states he does not favour one brother over the other this time around.
“Do I have a favourite? No. At the moment Brett is faster than Shaune and I have worked more with Brett as a youngster. But I’m equally happy for both of them. They deserve everything they get. They live the lifestyle to be successful.”
Interestingly Brett was recently in Cayman for a few days. Joined by training partners Rodion Davelaar (who hails from Curacao) and Robbie Hayes (a Georgia native) he spent the time resting and relaxing. He also took time out to meet supporters at Royal Palms.
Among them was local swimmer Geoffrey Butler, 15. An accomplished athlete in his own right, Butler states the impact of the Fraser brothers’ achievements is far-reaching.
“It’s incredible and good for us as young swimmers,” Butler said. “Shaune and Brett are role models for us.
They show us that we can be Olympic swimmers one day too. Personally my dream is to make the Olympics in the next five years or so.”
After his brief sojourn in Cayman, Brett is now back in Gainesville training at the University of Florida. Shaune is doing altitude training in Colorado. The next major meet for the brothers is expected to be the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico this October. From there Brett will look to take part in 2011 FINA World Cup swimming events in Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo before turning his attention to domestic meets in the US next year.
For Butler what stands out the most about the Frasers’ journey in the coming months is the amount of training involved.
“I’m a long distance swimmer primarily but to make the Olympic standard in the 200m must be extremely hard. Basically you have to sprint the whole way and you cannot mess up any part. I’m training 17 hours a week now and that’s just in the pool. I can only imagine what Brett and Shaune will be doing in the pool.”