The eyes of the Cayman swimming world were trained on the Lions Aquatic Centre this weekend, where many of the country’s best young swimmers were participating in the Mike Lockwood Memorial Meet.

The event, named for the former Executive Director of Pirates Week, marks an important point in the swim season. It’s a month before the Coconut Cup, which will be held in early December, and it allows the swimmers to test their progress at a point of the season where they’re not really expecting their best results.

“Some of the seniors on the team will be resting and trying to drop time at the Coconut Cup,” said veteran Alison Jackson, a freestyle sprint specialist. “We’re still pretty in season; no one’s really rested for this meet. We’re just trying to see where we’re at and where we’re trying to improve.”

Alison Jackson has been swimming competitively since age 6 and hopes to swim in college. Photo: Spencer Fordin

Jackson, 17, a senior at St. Ignatius Catholic School, said she hopes to swim at the collegiate level like her sister Sarah, who is a freshman at the University of Northern Colorado.

Alison Jackson said she’s been swimming competitively since age 6 and that her most rapid improvement came when she was around 11 or 12 years old. She has represented Cayman on the international stage several times, including at last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Andrew Muyanga, 12, said he’s been involved in the sport for about five years and has improved rapidly under new coach Macon Crowder. Muyanga specialises in freestyle distance events, but he also enjoys swimming the butterfly.

“It’s a lot of hard work and training for a long time,” he said of preparing for the Lockwood meet. “It’s one of the bigger meets of the season, and especially since it’s almost Christmas time, everyone’s going on break. It’s one of the last home meets of the season, so we have to put in a lot of work. It’s a very fun time. We get to talk to our friends and cheer for our friends. And swimming’s pretty fun in general.”

Andrew Muyanga specializes in freestyle distance events but also enjoys the butterfly. Photo: Spencer Fordin

Alison Jackson said that the Lockwood meet is important not just because of the effects it has on her season, but also because it memorialises someone who was very important to the local swim community.

“The Mike Lockwood is a pretty important meet for Stingray Swim Club, especially because [he] really pushed for the Lions pool,” she said prior to hitting the water on Saturday. “Without him, this might not be possible. It’s really important to remember what he’s done for swimming.”

Kathy Jackson, Alison’s mom, who is a director on the board of the Stingray Swim Club, said the addition of Morritts as a corporate sponsor is key for the future of the event.

“The Mike Lockwood is a very important meet, so to have them come on board to sponsor this is very significant for us,” she said. “We’re well aware that our kids don’t get the benefit of competition across the island in every single sport, not just swimming, without corporate citizenship coming into play.”