Another solid year at CARIFTA Swimming

The CARIFTA Swimming Championship is the largest event each year for Cayman’s age group swimmers to compete against the best in the region.

Cayman has become a competitive force and a challenger to much bigger teams from bigger islands. With a medal haul of 41 this year and an all-time high of 50 medals last year, Cayman swimmers are the ones to watch.

2018 was always going to be a tough CARIFTA, with many of our swimmers at the bottom of their age group and two of Cayman’s top swimmers competing for Cayman at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Lauren Hew (18) and Alison Jackson (15). Lauren had aged up and would not have been able to compete at CARIFTA, but Alison would have no doubt added to Cayman’s medal count.

“It was an honour being in charge of this great group of athletes. They made us proud. Congratulations to every single one of them for all their hard work, achievements, enthusiasm, team spirit, determination and endurance,” said team manager Chilian Ellison.

“Thanks to the team captains, Matthew Somerville and Samantha Bailey, and the older Carifta swimmers in the group for their leadership. I would also like to thank our staff for all their support; Coach David, Coach Caleb, and Coach Alissa and assistants Fulvio, Laura and Rose – and of course our ever-present photographer Mr. CJ Moore.”

Sabine Ellison won five medals at the championships.

Cayman won 41 medals overall, 34 in Competitive Swimming, four in Artistic Swimming (Synchro) and three in the Open Water 5k. Highlights included 10 Gold Medals and 1st Overall in Open Water and Cayman’s first ever medals in Artistic Swimming.

Synchro coach, Alissa Moberg, said the team’s Caribbean debut was beyond expectation. “Leaving the CARIFTA Championships with four medals is a huge confidence boost for the athletes and it sends a message to other federations that we’re serious competitors,” she said.

Coach Alissa said judges, coaches, athletes and spectators were full of compliments and encouragement after seeing what the Cayman program has been able to accomplish in such a short time.

“While our timeline was accelerated, hard work paid off. I’m incredibly proud of the program, athletes and the support network that got us here. [I’m] looking forward to a larger contingency in 2019,” she said.

Cayman placed an impressive 5th overall out of 24 Caribbean federations. Cayman placed the highest out of any national team that only have 25-metre pools to train in. 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed teams all have -metre pool training facilities.

Stefano Bonati made the podium four times.

CIASA’s 50 Meter Pool Committee Chairperson, Steve Broadbelt, added, “Cayman can win first place overall if we have our own 50-metre pool and training facilities in Cayman. This is the missing link to beating the top teams and we would also be able to host the championships if we have the facilities.”

Not only did Cayman stand on the podium 41 times, 15 domestic records in Cayman were no longer standing by the end of day four, which is a testament to the calibre of Cayman’s swimmers. As a true measure of pace in the pool, Cayman’s swimmers achieved 56 personal best times out of 113 events. The CARIFTA Event in particular drives young swimmers to compete and be the very best they can be, 2018 was no exception and Cayman’s swimmers did their islands proud.

“The swimmers must all be congratulated on their personal, team and national achievements. These successes would be harder to come by without the support of sponsors such as the Cayman Islands Government, Maples, KPMG, CUC, Davenport Development and the ultimate sponsors … their parents. Congratulations all,” said CIASA president Michael Lockwood.


CIASA Long Course Records (50m pool)

  • 11-12 Boys 200 Breaststroke: J. Alberga 2:47.30 (F), 31/3/18
  • 11-12 Boys 100 Breaststroke: J. Alberga 1:18.04 (F), 3/4/18
  • 11-12 Boys 50 Breaststroke: S. Bonati 35.74 (F), 2/4/18
  • 11-12 Girls 100 Butterfly: J. Crooks 1:09.31 (F), 31/3/18
  • 11-12 Girls 50 Butterfly: J. Crooks 30.95 (F), 1/4/18
  • 13-14 Boys 50 Free: C. Frederick-Westerborg 26.17 (P), 3/4/18
  • Senior Girls 200 Breaststroke: S. Ellison 2:45.65 (F), 31/3/18
  • Senior Boys 200 Breaststroke: E. Weber 2:28.84 (P), 31/3/18

NATIONAL Long Course Records (50m pool)

  • 11-12 Boys 200 Breaststroke: J. Alberga, 2:47.30 (F), 31/3/18
  • 11-12 Boys 100 Breaststroke: J. Alberga, 1:18.04 (F), 3/4/18
  • 11-12 Girls 100 Butterfly: J. Crooks 1:09.31 (F), 31/3/18
  • 11-12 Girls 50 Butterfly: J. Crooks 30.95 (F), 1/4/18
  • 11-12 Girls 200 Individual Medley: J. Crooks 2:39.94 (F), 2/4/18
  • 11-12 Girls 200 Back: J. Crooks 2.39.28 (F), 3/4/18
  • 13-14 Boys 50 Free: C. Frederick-Westerborg 26.17 (P), 3/4/18

(F) = Record broken during a final race | (P) = Record broken during a preliminary heat


Landon Von Kanel Award

Each time Cayman swimmers set off for CARIFTA, the Caribbean’s Age Group Swim Championships, wherever it is, they carry with them a special plaque for the Landon Von Kanel Award. Several years ago, the Cayman Islands established a special CARIFTA award, the Von Kanel Award. This award is a for an 11/12 year boy, and only given IF the same boy wins gold in both the 200m and 400m freestyle events. Thus it may not be awarded at every CARIFTA swim championships.

Landon Von Kanel was Cayman’s first ever CARIFTA medal winner in 1996, causing much excitement and pride, and initiating previously unknown attention on the sport of swimming in Cayman. Landon, 12 years old then, won both the 200 and 400-metre freestyle events. At just 18 years Landon was tragically killed in a car crash. To honour his memory and encourage other young men, this award was established.

The 2018 Landon Von Kanel Award went to Zarek Wilson from Trinidad and Tobago. The award was presented by Sarah Jackson and Eddie Weber from Cayman’s swim team.

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