Swimmers from Cayman stormed Jamaica to nab 14 medals – three gold – in the 2013 CARIFTA Swimming Championships.
The Cayman Islands national junior swim team placed 10th overall in Kingston thanks to gold from captain Geoffrey Butler in the 15-17 1500 metre freestyle in a time of 16:30.55, Kavanagh Lambert in the 11-12 200m breast stroke in 2:52.81 and Lauren Hew in the 13-14 200m back stroke in a time of 2:31.73.
Mr. Butler, 17, beat his previous personal best by five seconds in his final CARIFTA appearance and states it was satisfying to finally top the podium over the Easter weekend.
“It felt great to get the gold,” Mr. Butler said. “I came third three years in a row and I finally came first. I won six medals in total and the level of swimmers there was really good because most of us are like them in that they came up competing in CARIFTA over the years. We did the best we could.”
Mr. Butler and the rest of the Cayman team arrived home on Thursday morning. They were greeted by throngs of well wishers at Owen Roberts International Airport, including Director of Sports Collin Anglin.
In addition to his gold, Mr. Butler won three silver medals in the: 400m Individual Medley at 4:50.79; 200IM and 400m Free at 4:08.60. Mr. Butler earned two bronze in the 200m Free at 1:59.47 and in the Open Water 5K, which made its debut at CARIFTA.
In all, Cayman came away with four silver and seven bronze medals to go along with the three gold. There were 69 personal best times posted and 28 appearances in the various event finals.
Ms Lambert, 13, said on the whole it was a hard journey to those podium finishes.
“It was a good turnout, we were much improved overall and we did well,” Ms Lambert said. “For my second time in CARIFTA, I did a lot better. It was tough, there were a lot of fast people and a lot of them had medals last year.”
A large contingent of family members travelled to cheer on the Cayman team. Local Olympian Shaune Fraser was among the supporters and his younger brother, Kyle, competed.
Technical Director for Cayman Swimming Ian Armiger said the squad met a number of goals for the competition.
“The team swam really well,” Mr. Armiger said. “CARIFTA gave me the opportunity to really understand and evaluate regional swimming first-hand. We developed goals for CARIFTA 2013 that the team met head on – number of medals, finals and PBs.”
Minister for Sports Mark Scotland extended his congratulations to the team.
“The Ministry and Departments of Sports extend their congratulations to every swimmer that competed in CARIFTA,” Mr. Scotland said. “The whole country is proud of your achievements.
We know the medals you brought home to Cayman, the finals you competed in and the personal best times you achieved are the result of countless hours of training and we commend you for your discipline and dedication to your sport.”
News of Cayman’s swimming success comes after Alex Pascal and Daneliz Thomas each won gold in the javelin event at the CARIFTA Games in the Bahamas.