Crooks and Broadbelt impress at CIASA nationals

By: Duke Sullivan

While Tennessee sophomore Jordan Crooks was delivering history-making performances at the SEC Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, his younger sister, Olympian Jillian Crooks, returned home to participate in the Cayman Islands National Swimming Championships at the Camana Bay Aquatic Centre. 

The event brought together approximately 200 swimmers, including two talented Chinese swimmers, Ziyang Zhang and Zicheng Wang, coached by former Cayman swim coach, Dave Kelsheimer.

Jillian was dominant throughout the four-day event, winning gold in the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle events, the 50m and 200m backstroke, and the 50m and 100m butterfly.

The dominance was confirmed by her national and CIASA record-breaking performances in the 50m backstroke, 100m butterfly, and 50m free. Only a spectacular finish and touch out by Sierrah Broadbelt – still only 14 years old –  in the 200m butterfly kept Crooks from a perfect weekend.

The fact that Broadbelt needed a record-breaking performance of her own to defeat Crooks shows the current upward trajectory of Cayman Swimming. For good measure, Broadbelt raced to another record in the 50m butterfly in the 13-14-year-old age category.

Carifta qualifiers

‘Nationals’ are the last qualifying event before team selection for the upcoming 2023 Carifta Swimming Championships that will be held in Curacao in April.

Connor Macdonald (CBAC) effectively punched his ticket to Carifta with a 20-second personal best swim in the opening event, the 1500m freestyle.

Connor will likely be joined by CBAC teammates, Lucy Butler, Luke Higgo, Chase Watson and Gabriel Bispath, who all impressed in their qualifying swims. SMS swimmers Dominic Hilton and Tate Hilton, along with Danny Kish, fresh off their meet performances, are all expected to board the plane bound for the southern Caribbean in six weeks.

Lev Fahy (CBAC), Harper Barrowman and Kaitlyn Sullivan (SMS) all made the qualifying times for Carifta. Fahy was outstanding while sweeping the 11 races he entered in the boys 11-12 age group. Barrowman won both the women’s 800m and 1500m freestyle events. Sullivan struck gold in the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke races in the 15-17 age category.

The final Carifta team will be announced on March 6.

Veterans entertain crowds

Four nights of finals provided great entertainment for the standing-room-only crowd that attended. Zhang and Wang, along with our veteran swimmers James Allison, Will Sellars and Jordan Lisle of SMS, Thomas Ferguson and Tate Marr of CBAC, and Stingray Swim Club’s Aidan Van der Touw competed spiritedly during the event.

Tight finishes in the breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle races kept the fans loud and boisterous.

Each year when the National Swimming Championships come around, it is always refreshing to see the next wave of young kids who swim onto the scene.

CBAC’s Lucas Kerr, Francesca Altamura and Anna Oldfield, SMS swimmers Jude Hislop, Arabella Lawson and Clara Walker, Stingray’s Cassidy Coles and Holly Clark-Terrell, along with Krystal Campbell of John Gray Swim Team are a few of many who burst onto the scene during this swim meet.

The excellent performances of Masters swimmers, Emil Kalinowski (44) and Jennifer Harding-Marlin (30) during the championship also deserve a special shout-out.

Four days of swimming under clear, blue skies proved that the future is bright for Cayman swimming.

Steve Broadbelt, president of CIASA, said the national championship were the biggest event on the domestic calendar with the full four-day format featuring all strokes in all distances and all age groups.

“The event is the target meet for coaches and their hopeful swimmers trying get their qualifying times for the national team or younger swimmers getting their first experience of a fully officiated meet with a heats and finals schedule and formal medal ceremonies.

“This year did not disappoint with many development swimmers getting their times and our seasoned swimmers yet again breaking records.”

The event, attended by Sports Minister Bernie Bush and Deputy Premier Chris Saunders, also included a performance from the Artistic Swimming Team who displayed a routine similar to whet they will compete and perform at Carifta in April.

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