Persistent heavy rain notwithstanding, competition continued on Saturday at Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre, the second day of the 24th Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Swimming Championships.
Thirteen new meet records were established, and home team Saint Lucia attained supremacy, for the time being. With Grenada and Antigua-Barbuda still within striking distance, and hopefully improved weather conditions on Sunday, the final day of the meet, the destination of this year’s title is still very much up in the air.
After two days and 64 events, though, Saint Lucia has forged ahead on 762.5 points. Grenada (736) and Antigua-Barbuda (709) are in hot pursuit. St Vincent & the Grenadines (341) and the British Virgin Islands (97.5) are making their respective marks, and with some outstanding swimmers of their own, the two lesser teams will certainly have a say in helping decide this year’s champions.
Saint Lucia lead both the men’s and women’s divisions, with Grenada’s women trailing very narrowly and Antigua-Barbuda holding on to second in the men.
Among the men, Saint Lucia’s charge is being led by Jordan Augier in the 18 & Over class. The 19-year-old University of Tampa student copped five gold medals, unbeaten on Saturday, and set two new meet records. In the 50-metre Freestyle, Augier broke his own record from last year, posting a time of 23.83 seconds and shaving .21 of a second off his prior mark. He also took two seconds off Esau Simpson’s 2011 record in the 200 Free, touching the wall in 2:00.03 and beating Grenada’s Chris Regis by over five seconds.
Competition has been especially intense in the 13-14 boys, where Antigua-Barbuda’s Noah Mascoll-Gomes may not always win, but when he does, he does in impressive fashion. In the 200 Free, Mascoll-Gomes stopped the clock in 1:57.79, nearly five seconds faster than he did in 2013. The impressive youngster also reset his mark in the 100-metre Butterfly, lopping more than a second off to end in 1:01.13.
Another of Mascoll-Gomes’ records fell in the 13-14 division, Delron Felix of Grenada becoming the first OECS boy in that age group to go under 25 seconds in the 50 Free, which he ended in 24.99 seconds. Delron is just 13 this year.
The 50 Free standard also fell in the 8 & Under boys. Saint Lucia’s D’Andre Blanchard, on his last year in this class, finished in 32.81 to erase Lleyton Martin’s 2011 mark from the books.
Amongst the women, Saint Lucia was led by young Naima Hazell. With just three races on the cards for the 8 & Under, she won two of them in record fashion. In the 25m Butterfly her 16.79 took just under a quarter of a second off the old OECS record. And she set yet another 50 Free record on the day, her 35.14 beating Olivia Fuller’s 2012 standard.
Also setting multiple records was Elinah Phillip of the British Virgin Islands in the 13-14 girls. Aged 13, Elinah superseded the previous best times in the 100m Butterfly, and (of course) the 50 Free. in the Butterfly, a performance of 1:09.24 was the new OECS best by more than a second. In the 50 Free, her 27.52 was almost a second better than the now second best, and well over a second ahead of second place. Both records had previously been held by Grenada’s Oreoluwa Cherebin.
Cherebin and Fuller had their old records broken but they also created new ones. Cherebin won the 15-17 girls 100m Butterfly for the Spice Isle in 1:08.08, besting her 2013 performance of 1:09.81, with a year remaining in this division. Fuller struck gold for Antigua-Barbuda in the 9-10 girls 50m Butterfly, winning in 34.38 and removing Saint Lucia’s Katelin Samuel from the top of that list.
The seventh women’s record went to Saint Lucia’s Thalia Bergasse in the 15-17 100m Backstroke. Her 1:08.72 reduced the record time – previously set by compatriot Siona Huxley in 2011 – by close to two seconds.
All in all, a fascinating final day is in prospect at Rodney Heights, with more records to be set, and an exciting tussle for the trophy.