He did it. Jordan Crooks is World Champion. Crooks is now the 50 metre free FINA 2022 World Swimming Championships gold medalist and a modern day hero for his country.
It was a goosebump moment for many locals, when the Cayman Islands national anthem played for Crooks during the medal presentation.
Crooks, who describes himself as “just a fisherman from a small island,” won the 50 free in 20.46, edging Ben Proud by 0.03 to claim the Cayman Islands’ first medal.
He becomes the first Caymanian World Championship medalist, regardless of sport.
Crooks and Proud couldn’t be separated at 25m with the pair splitting 9.81 but the University of Tennessee swimmer had a huge turn coming up ahead.
It came down to the touch with Crooks taking gold ahead of the defending champion Proud who had won every title available to him since coming fifth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze in 20.72.
Prior to his gold medal, Crooks had finished sixth place in the 100 metres finals. He was the top swimmer through the prelims and semifinals of the 100 free.
He moved on to the 50m free heats, where he swam a new Cayman national record time of 20.36. Crooks then clocked 20.31 seconds in his semifinal race before moving on to win the finals.
His time during the semifinals tied him fourth fastest 50m short course swimmer of all-time, behind Caeleb Dressel, Florent Manaudou, Roland Schoeman and Vladimir Morozov. Crooks was only two tenths off Dressel’s world record of 20.16.
Minister Bernie Bush congratulates Jordan Crooks, “On behalf of the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage (YSCH), the Cayman Islands Government and Caymanians everywhere I wish to extend congratulations to swimmer Jordan Crooks on this historic achievement.
“Watching Jordan win the gold in the Men’s 50M Freestyle at the FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia this morning was nothing short of impressive and phenomenal. This young Caymanian’s stellar achievements over the past week has made him the fastest man in this event. We are with you Jordan and wishing you continued success on the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics.”
Jordan started his World Championships campaign swimming the 100 meter Freestyle as an unseeded swimmer in heat six of eleven. He went on to post the fastest preliminary time – a blazing 45.61 which is a new personal best for Jordan as well as a new National record.
Swimming in the semi-finals later that same day, Jordan stepped up on the blocks and showed that his time was not a fluke – he again went out and finished fast – dropping his best and National Record and securing his place in finals as the fastest qualifier in a time of 45.55. In the finals he went out in a blistering 21.31 and led for the first 75m but was unable to hold off the defending world champion – Kyle Chalmers – and finished in 45.77, in tied 6th place.
And while Jordan was making his name known as a serious contender for the upcoming summer Olympics, sister Jillian – who swam the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle made some big statements of her own. Jillian set two new national records. The first in the 50m butterfly at 26.40 and the 100m freestyle at 54.20.
Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association president Steve Broadbelt commented on Jordan’s swims, “Jordan’s swims show that he can swim at world record pace and is now the new World Champion in the elite world of swimming.”
Broadbelt continued, “after the 100m freestyle, the president of World Aquatics (formerly FINA) Husain Al-Musallam asked to meet Jordan. He, along with the president of PanAm Aquatics Maureen Croes met with Jordan, his sister Jillian and Cayman Swimming’s Technical Director and National Coach Jacky Pellerin and, after congratulating our swimmers he spoke of his support for the continued development of swimming in the Cayman Islands, and in the CARIFTA and PanAm Aquatics regions.”