Multiple records broken at CIASA Nationals

The Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association National Championships has proven over the years to be the event where dozens of records are broken, and this year was no different.

Over the course of the four-day competition, held 18-21 Feb. at the Aquatics Centre in Camana Bay, 25 new CIASA records were set, with 16 swimmers hitting qualifying standards for the CARIFTA Games.

James Allison and Jillian Crooks each broke several national records, but it was Allison’s performance on the final day of the championships that stole the show.

He broke the 13-14 boys 400 metre free national record, knocking .42 seconds off the previous best time of 4:15.61 set by Cayman’s Olympian Shaune Fraser in 2002.

“I didn’t think I was going to break the record because I was 12 seconds off,” Allison told the Cayman Compass. “Before the race, I could tell that Coach Darren [Mew] had faith in me. He told me to lengthen my stroke and I remember thinking in the race that my stroke must be power driven not speed. I kicked a decent amount and breathed every two strokes and found my rhythm.”

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That advice earned Allison a time of 4:15.19 to set the new record, beating his previous personal best by 12.18 seconds. Allison also set national records in the 50 free, and 50 and 100 fly.

“After the race, I [looked] up at the board and was ecstatic,” said Allison. “I had memorised the time and could see that I had just cut it down by a few milliseconds. As I am more of a sprinter, this record was the most satisfying of my swimming career so far. It was great to see coach Darren and my Mum so happy for me.”

Crooks continued her dominance in the pool, setting five national records. She improved her previous records in the 200IM and 200 backstroke. Crooks also claimed the 200 free national record with a time of 2:02.83, and the 100 backstroke in 1:02.96, both records previously held by Lauren Hew.

Jillian Crooks and coach Grant Ferguson during the 2021 CIASA National Championships. Photos- Seaford Russell Jr

Crooks was not done, however; she went on to claim the 100 butterfly record, at 1:02.23, to improve on the 1:02.30 that Olympian Lara Butler clocked in 2013.

“It feels pretty good,” Crooks told the Compass. “I’ve been working pretty hard in practice.”

Crooks added that she is focussing on the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, but above that, she has her sights on competing at the world’s biggest sporting event.

“I’d like to shoot for the CARIFTA Games along with me and my other friends that are in competitive swimming and then I’ll shoot for the Olympics someday,” said Crooks.

The nationals are usually the last opportunity for Cayman’s eligible swimmers to qualify for CARIFTA but with no new date set for the championships, more swim meets are expected to take place in the coming weeks, according to CIASA.

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