Records tumble at CIASA national championships

The 2018 Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association (CIASA) National Championships featured four days of impressive performances by young swimmers, with 19 different CIASA and national records being broken.

The 15-18 February meet held at Camana Bay Aquatic Centre provided the perfect platform for swimmers to prepare for overseas championships like CARIFTA, with preliminary swims in the mornings and finals in the evenings. It was also an opportunity for athletes to improve their times and qualify for the team to represent the Cayman Islands at the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships in Jamaica at the end of March.

With that motivation, swimmers put in some top-notch performances that saw the record-books being re-written. Among the top performers were Sabine Ellison and Jillian Crooks, both of Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC), who each ended the championships with five new records to their name. (See list below)

Crooks, being modest and diverting much of the attention from herself, told “The Championships has been good. I’m being pushed by a lot of swimmers and my coaches have taught me how to do the right things.”

A memorable moment was in the 200m Individual Medley, when she was challenged by Alison Belfonte of Stingray Swim Club. Crooks touched the line first but both rising stars finished ahead of the old CIASA mark that stood since 2002.

Crooks talked us through that race: “My mom has always told me whenever you do a 200IM, you out on the fly, which I did, and on the backstroke, just pace yourself. I knew that Alison is strong on the butterfly, so I wanted to go fast on the fly, come back and go a little easier on the backstroke, on the breaststroke build [the lead] and go hard on the freestyle to finish.”

As for the feeling to stand at the top of the podium, she added: “It feels exciting because for me it feels like I’m at CARIFTA or at the Olympics.”

While her Olympic dream may still be some time down the road, Crooks will get a chance to represent her country at the CARIFTA championships this Easter. She could hardly contain her excitement when we spoke to her about that opportunity. “Rating this from one to 10, this would be a thousand,” she said. “My brother [Jordan Crooks] has gone to CARIFTA before but I haven’t and CARIFTA is like a mini-Olympics, so I really want to go.”

Young swimmers from the various clubs with CIASA Technical Director Bailey Weathers.

New records set at 2018 CIASA National Championships

Sabine Ellison (Camana Bay Aquatic Club)

200m Breaststroke2:44.38 Girls 13-14 and Senior CIASA Records

200m IM 2:27.97 Girls 13-14 CIASA Record

50m Breaststroke: 36.41 Girls 13-14 CIASA Record

100 Breaststroke 1:17.18 Girls 13-14 CIASA Record

Jillian Crooks (Camana Bay Aquatic Club)

200m Breaststroke: 3:03.09 11-12 Girls National Record

200m Freestyle: 2:17.99 11-12 Girls National Record

50m Butterfly: 30.93 11-12 Girls CIASA & National Records

200m IM: 2:34.32 11-12 Girls National Record

Alison Belfonte (Stingray Swim Club)

100m Butterfly 1:09.94 Girls 11-12 CIASA & National Records

Lila Higgo (Camana Bay Aquatic Club

50m Breastroke: 39.77 Girls 9-10 CIASA Record

100m Breaststroke: 1:25.41 Girls 9-10 CIASA Record

Jake Alberga (Stingray Swim Club)

100m Breaststroke: 1:16.57 Boys 11-12 CIASA & National Records

200m Breaststroke: 2:42.20 Boys 11-12 CIASA & National Records

Stefano Bonnati (Camana Bay Aquatic Club):

50m Breaststroke: 34.65 Boys 11-12 CIASA Record

**CIASA records can be broken by any CIASA registered member.
**Swimmers must be CIASA registered members and have Caymanian status to hold national records.



Meantime, it was not just those topping the podium or having their names printed in the record books who walked away smiling. For others, achieving personal bests (PBs) and attaining CARIFTA qualifying standards meant as much.

One such swimmer was Stingray Swim Club’s Abbey Walton, who described the championships as one of best meets so far. She qualified for the 11-12 Girls 100m and 200m breaststroke events. “I’m excited because that means that I can finally be on the national team and represent my country with all of my friends,” Walton said, adding that she felt like she was racing well and not making many mistakes.

Kaitlyn Sullivan of Seven Mile Swimmers also enjoyed the meet and has a chance to swim at CARIFTA. She explained her reaction when she met the mark in the Girls 11-12 200m breaststroke. “I saw it on the clock and I was really happy because I knew what it was…In the morning, I didn’t have a development time. My time was 3:21 and then it went down to 3:17, which is a development time and then it went down to 3:13.”

Jake Bailey of Stingray Swim Club made it onto the podium in several Boys 13-14 events but said he wasn’t thoroughly impressed with his performances.

“I haven’t been doing too many PBs…I feel as though I could be doing better,” he said but added that he plans to be in peak form in time for CARIFTA. “I think I’m going to be ready for those and I can perform much better there.”

For fellow Stingray member Zach Moore, the championship meet was a good time to assess his form mid-season. “I know it is not an end of season meet, so it’s not been my fastest times, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he told “I wanted to see how far I’m off from my PBs, so it’s a good training point for me.”

He, too, is looking forward to flying the Cayman Islands flag at the regional championships in Jamaica after winning five individual medals in the Bahamas last year. “I’m excited for CARIFTA because I’m not that far off on all my races and I just need a little improvement to get back down to my PBs. So, I’m excite for when I taper and I get to go as fast as I could,” Moore said.

The team for the CARIFTA Games is expected to be named in the coming weeks.

See full results: CIASA Nationals Results 2018

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