John Bodden stepped onto the biggest stage of his life and swam his best.
Bodden, competing in the Pan American Games for the first time, swam a personal best in both the 400m freestyle (4:04.34) and the 200m butterfly (2:08.22) on Tuesday. Bodden won his heat in the 400m freestyle and qualified for Final B, which will be contested after press time Tuesday evening.
The top finisher in the 400m preliminary heats was Andrew Arbuzzo (3:49.46) of the United States.
Bodden easily defeated Graham Chartoor (4:07.58) of Trinidad and Tobago and Daniel Scott (4:28.29) of Guyana in his opening 400m heat. Sixteen of the 18 competitors advanced to either Final A or Final B.
“It’s my best event. I just did what I had to do,” said Bodden of his 400m freestyle performance to Jade Webster, press attache for the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee. “Thirty minutes later, I had to step up and do the 200m [butterfly] the best that I could in back-to-back races.”
Bodden said that he felt nerves in his first Pan Am Games experience and that he knew he had to push past them to deliver his best performance. Bodden said that he realised he had an edge on the competition in the 400m freestyle right as he was coming back around for the homestretch.
“I realised it after the 300 mark,” he said. “We flipped at the same time but I had a better push off the wall. I was kind of like, ‘If I don’t make my move now, he’s going to run me down in the last 50.”
Another Cayman competitor, Jesse Jackson, has persevered through a few days of weather-related delays in the sailing competition. Jackson, sailing in the Laser Standard bracket of sailing, is ranked 22 out of 22 competitors through his first two races.
“There was a lot to take away from today. Now the nerves are gone,” he told Webster on Monday. “We have a lot more races to go. Anything can happen any day. … The underdogs are shining.”