The push to heighten school sports in the Cayman Islands recently shifted to the pool.
A pair of government establishments, John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School, held their first ever joint swim meet at the Lions Aquatic Center. The goal was to showcase swimming talent at the schools while building a sense of school pride through sports. The result was a resounding success as 60 races took place last Friday and the schools ended up separated by just 11 points.
The competition started with the 100 meter Medley relay races for Year 7 Girls and moved up year by year. It was the Year 10 boys race where the lead changed back and forth, sucking those in the stands into the action, as the final freestyle leg home was a furious sprint. At the end of the first set of races, the medley relays would see the overall score tied.
Two other events took center stage in the backstroke and freestyle. John Gray would initially enjoy a 239-226 lead before Clifton Hunter came roaring back to take a 357-323 advantage. Heading into the freestyle relays, Clifton Hunter had a 569-542 edge. Those relays were weighted and worth double points, allowing John Gray to trim their deficit. However, the kids from North Side would barely hold on to their points advantage to win the meet, 682-671.
On an individual level, while a few national team members did well, most of the outstanding performers are unknowns in the local swimming community. John Gray featured talents like Hannah Robinson and Joshua McField – Year 7, Kaitelynn McKenzie and Shawn Lansdell – Year 8, Diana Lopez, John Bodden and Devin Jeffers – Year 9, Deidre Bodden and Zacrae Cornwall – Year 10, and Ashley Theaker and Erica Shims – Year 11.
Clifton Hunter were led to victory by Melody Allenger and Pierce Serrant – Year 7, Daekalei Tulloch and Kelvin Parchman – Year 8, Deajra Tulloch and Justin Ebanks – Year 9, Ali Solomon and Dimitri Myles – Year 10, and Delano Callender and Taylor Christian – Year 11.
The competition had some of the flair of a major meet, featuring dignitaries like Director of Sports Collin Anglin and an opening ceremony with the national anthem performed by Tatyana Salazar. Overseeing the action were the Lions Aquatic Center’s resident instructors: Ryan Mushin, Chester Hurlston and Joanna Manderson. All ensured the meet was structured well and effective.
Mushin, the senior instructor, said the meet was a positive endeavour.
“We tried to make it a good experience of how much fun competitive swimming can be,” Mushin said. “I’m so pleased it came together so well. There was a lot of great teamwork and a bit of adrenaline!”
Mushin also expressed thanks to all the organization and leadership provided by teachers, coaches and volunteers from both schools. Special recognition went to Kirlew Watson, Huey Crawford, Hurlene Grey, Carline Reid and Ralph Birkmyre, with Sara Pinches and Errol Grey providing enthusiastic announcing.
Going forward, instructor Manderson says the hope is to create a strong inter-school rivalry.
“We are all anxiously awaiting next year’s inter-school swim meet between these rival schools, highly anticipating the results and intrigued to see who else will fight to be on top,” Manderson said. “I encourage all the young athletes to challenge your limits, break boundaries, have a great summer and strive for the best of everything. A great, friendly rivalry has obviously begun!”