Fifteen medals overall; one bronze in track and field; young swimmers set record
Young Cayman swimmers earned five gold medals from the CARIFTA swim meet in Barbados this week. The team sent 21 swimmers this year and won a total of 15 medals during the five-day competition.
The girls 11-12 freestyle relay team set a CARIFTA record. Ali Jackson, Zororo Mutomba, Ria Plunkett and Holly Stradling swam the 4×100 relay in 4 minutes, 17.71 seconds, taking the gold. Aruba set the previous record in 2013 at 4:18.39.
Head coach Bailey Weathers said the team practiced for this kind of event, with competitions like the national swimming championship here, “giving our athletes the practice they need to learn how to swim fast enough in the morning prelims to make finals, and then to swim faster in the evenings to medal.”
He added, “This is great practice for them and I was very happy to see so many strong swims from all our swimmers.”
More than 30 parents and supporters also traveled to Bridgetown, Barbados, for the event. Eighteen countries and territories from around the Caribbean participated in the regional swimming championship. Barbados and the Bahamas took the two top spots overall, with both winning more than 20 gold medals.
Ali Jackson, 12, was the standout swimmer from Cayman, taking five medals on her own in the girls 11-12 bracket, as well as being part of the two gold medal relay teams.
Jackson, a Year 8 student at St. Ignatius, swims with the Stingray Swim Club. Her mother Kathy Jackson said, “Her dad and I are taxi drivers, huggers and greatest cheerleaders for Ali and her sister, who also swims. They put in the hours of training, along with their teammates and coach, and then it all comes down to what happens on the day, in the pool.”
Michael Lockwood, president of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association, praised Weathers’ coaching. “Strategic and disciplined coaching at the club level is starting to once again produce the results we were hoping for,” he said.
“All of our swimmers were wonderful ambassadors for Cayman, and for the youth of Cayman, as they show what hard work and discipline can produce,” Lockwood said.
Cayman also sent three officials to help with the meet. Lockwood said it was a good opportunity “for our technical officials to gain experience in international competitions.”
Track and field
Out of the water, Cayman took one medal this week in the CARIFTA track and field competition in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Dominic Dyer won the bronze in the under-18 boys 3,000-meter run, finishing in 9 minutes, 9.4 seconds.
Cayman had seven fourth-place finishes in track and field, including Jamal Walton who missed the bronze in the 400-meter dash by one one-thousandth of a second. Jamaican runner Devaughn Ellington overtook Walton right at the finish line.
Cayman sent 20 athletes this year to participate in the track and field events.
Cayman’s swim results
- Eddie Weber: 13-14 Boys 1500m freestyle
- Alison Jackson: 11-12 Girls 100m freestyle
- Alison Jackson: 11-12 Girls 50m freestyle
- Alison Jackson, Zororo Mutomba, Emily Link and Ria Plunkett: 11-12 girls 4 x 50m freestyle
- Alison Jackson, Zororo Mutomba, Ria Plunkett and Holly Stradling: 11-12 Girls 4 x 100 freestyle relay
- Alison Jackson: 11-12 Girls 50m backstroke
- Lauren Hew: 15-17 Girls 50m backstroke
- Alison Jackson: 11-12 Girls 50m breaststroke
- Eddie Weber: 13-14 Boys open water 5K
- Ella Plunkett: 13-14 Girls 200IM
- Jonathan Key, Cole Morgan, Rory Barrett and Iain McCallum: 15-17 Boys 4 x 200 freestyle relay
- Alison Jackson: 11-12 Girls 100m breaststroke
- Lauren Hew: 15-17 Girls 200m backstroke