Swimmers reflect on international competition

L-R: John Bodden, Sarah Jackson, Jonathan Key, Lauren Hew

Swimmers who represented the Cayman Islands at the FINA World Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games have been reflecting on the experience and their performances at those international meets during July.

Lauren Hew was the country’s lone competitor at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where she raced in the 100m backstroke and 200m freestyle. Meantime, the trio of Sarah Jackson, John Bodden and Jonathan Key competed at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, with each registering at least one personal best swim.

Lauren Hew was Cayman’s only swimmer at the FINA World Championships.

Hew, 17, finished 41st overall in the 200m freestyle (2:08.91) and 50th in the 100m backstroke (1:08.38).

“My times weren’t quite what I expected, but at a high-level meet where I only swam two events the main goal isn’t necessarily to get a best time but more to gain experience,” Hew said.

“The atmosphere at meets like this isn’t something you get to experience often, so I have been soaking it in and I am grateful that CIASA provides me with these opportunities.”

She also had the opportunity to use the facilities in Budapest with other top-level international swimmers to train before her next meet in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States.

Although none of the swimmers made finals in the Bahamas, they produced lifetime best swims in different events, with Bodden and Key each having two personal bests and Jackson one.

“Swimming at Youth Commonwealth was a great experience. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to compete with swimmers at that level and see where I rank within them,” Bodden said.

John Bodden (file photo)

“My 400m freestyle ‘personal best’ was exciting because I haven’t done the event in such a long time. It was a great boost of confidence that helped with the final two days of the meet,” said Bodden, who finished with 4:12.94 in that event, as well as a PB of 2:10.52 in the 200m butterfly.

Jackson was also pleased with her PB in the 50m freestyle with 30.64 seconds. “I race to beat what I’ve done before so personal best times mean a lot to me no matter how small they are, it means I’m improving,” she said.

She thanked her coach for her best result, “Swimming my 50m butterfly personal best is a testament to my training and my coach and I look forward to more time drops in upcoming meets.”

Sarah Jackson got a PB in the 50m freestyle.

Among the international meets that the Stingray Swim Club member has her eyes on are the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships, the Pan American Championships, and the FINA World Short Course Championships.

Key, another SSC swimmer, reflected on his personal best of 26.21 seconds in the 50m freestyle. “I felt good going into this race. I wanted to see what I could do. [It was] interesting to see where we stand speed wise as a small island against the bigger countries such as England, Canada and New Zealand.”

He also registered a PB in the 400m freestyle with a time of 4:18.57.

Meantime, Bodden shared his thoughts about competing in the 50m pool at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex, where the Cayman Islands also had a strong showing at the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in April.

Jonathan Key

“It was also important to swim and train in a long course pool, since we don’t have one in Cayman it really does help us a lot when it is available,” he said.

Coach Darren Mew congratulated the team on their efforts in the Bahamas.  “Our swimmers had a great meet, they came up against some world class swimmers from all over the commonwealth and performed well. They remained focused on their own performances and were rewarded with best times,” he said.

“The experience will help prepare them for the future international meets especially those with a Games environment. They were a credit to Cayman not only in their performances but also their professionalism and how they conducted themselves,” Mew added.

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