Gabriella Donahue was a double winner as T&T bagged five gold medals in a first night haul of ten, to lie second on the points table when the first night of finals were completed at the 2017 Carifta Swimming Championships at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre in Nassau Bahamas on Saturday.
Hosts Bahamas took the lead with 193 points with T&T next with 169, just ahead of Guadeloupe (163) followed by Jamaica (150) and Cayman Island (144) to round off the top five.
Donahue led the medal charge with gold medals in the 13-14 girls 200 metres breaststroke and 50m backstroke.
In the 200m breaststroke Donahue won comfortably in two minutes, 48.01 seconds ahead of Guadeloupe’s Farah Sheikboudhou (2:49.96) and Sabine Elison of the Cayman Islands (2:48.01).
The T&T swimmer then returned to win the 50m backstroke in 30.55, marginally slower than her preliminary record swim of 30.36 seconds, which surpassed the 2016 Carifta record of 30.37 which was held by Emma Harvey of Bermuda while fellow T&T swimmer Jahmia Harley was eighth in a personal best of 32.05.
Donahue’s preliminary swim also erased the national record of Kristin Julien of 30.57 which was established at Carifta 2011 and was the record up to 2015.
First gold honours for the 36-member T&T swimming contingent which is under the supervision of head coach Shawn Pouchet went to Jada Chatoor in the 13-14 girls 800m freestyle in 9:24.69 while Marie-Lorella Capolini won the silver for Guadeloupe (9:32.76) and Ria Plunkett of Cayman Islands, bronze (9:40.82).
Kael Yorke avenged his 2016 failure to pass the preliminary stage in Martinique with a “come-from-behind” victory to win gold in the 15-17 boys 100 metres butterfly for T&T.
A veteran member of the T&T team ,Yorke surged past his rivals in the last five metres in a personal best 56.51 seconds, ahead of Bermuda’s Jesse Washington (56.82) and French Guiana’s Steven Aimable (57.22).
The final gold medal on the night for T&T came via the 11-12 boys 400 freestyle relay team of Nikoli Blackman, Josiah Changar, Riquelio Joseph and Zarek Wilson in 4:10.58 ahead of Guadeloupe (4:11.05) and Bahamas (4:14.35).
One event later, Jahmia Harley, Jada Chatoor, Regan Allen and Gabriela Donahue won silver in the 13-14 girls 400 freestyle relay in 4:06.69 just behind winners Jamaica (4:06.08).
There were also two other silver and three bronze for T&T on the opening night.
Graham Chatoor’s got silver in the 15-17 boys 1500m freestyle in a personal best 16:43.34, behind Guadeloupe’s Anaique Zachelin (16:27.38) while fellow T&T entrant Delroy Tyrell was eighth in a personal best 18:11.69 in the boys 13-14 age-group.
And Racine Ross took silver in the 15-17 girls 100m butterfly in 1:05.39 edging Lauren Hew of Cayman Islands (1:05.52), but behind. Martinique’s Mika Keideyr (1:03.34).while T&T’s Jada Chai was fifth in 1:07.07
Regan Allen won bronze in the 13-14 girls 100m butterfly (1:07.77) just ahead of Harley (1:07.91) as both T&T athletes achieving personal bests.
Zarek Wilson, who established a C qualifying time to qualify for this event, stepped up to the plate and got bronze in the 11-12 boys 50m backstroke in 32.07, just ahead of T & T’s Riquelio Joseph (32.35) as both swimmers set personal best times.
Wilson was also eight in a new personal mark of 1:10.25 in the 100m butterfly.
T & T’s missed medals in the 15-17 boys (Yorke, Osaze Riley, Graham Chatoor, Jeron Thompson) and 13-14 boys (Malik Nelson, Jonathan Constantine, Tyrrell, Aqeel Joseph) as both teams placed fourth in their respective finals in 3:39.71 and 3:56.31 while 15-17 girls quartet of Danielle Williams, Ornella Walker, Jada Chai, and Amira Pilgrim placed fifth in 4:09.48.
Jeron Thompson, Justin Samlalsingh, Vrisnelit Faure, Luke Gillette, Neishelah Caseman, Zoe Anthony, Arielle Dickson and Ornella Walker were T & T’s other finalists on opening night.
The pair of Thompson (27.63), a personal best and Samlalsingh (28.52) were fourth and eighth in the 15-17 boys 50m backstroke final while Walker was fourth in the girls in 30.95, another new personal best mark
Still in the 50m backstroke, Caseman was seventh in the 11-12 girls in 34.33, and Aqeel Joseph, fifth in the 13-14 boys in a personal best of 29.84 as well.
In the 200m breaststroke finals, Zoe Anthony ended sixth in 3:04.83 in the 11-12 girls; just ahead of Arielle Dickson (3:06.98), her best time while in the 15-17 category, Faure (2:59.18) and Gillette (2:32.18) were good enough for eighth and seventh respectively
Yesterday morning when competition resumed with heats, T&T’s Amira Pilgrim, one of the team captains of the narrowly missed out on a national record in the 15-17 girls 50m butterfly.
Pilgrim stopped the clock in a personal best 28.56 seconds and was the second fastest qualifier, just off the national record of 28.56, owned by Kristin Julien, while Ross was eighth in 29.88 and also booked a spot in last night’s final.
Yorke signalled his intentions with a 25.54 swim in the 15-17 boys 100m butterfly and was the second fastest qualifier while Thompson was eighth in 25.98.
The trio of Gabriella Donahue (30.04) , Harley (30.24) and Aqeel Joseph, who were fourth, fifth and sixth in their respective13-14 girls and boys 50m butterfly heats all booked final places along with 11-12 duo, Zoe Anthony (32.04) and Kadon Williams (29.41) and in the 400m medley relay the 11-12 girls and 15-17 boys qualified.
Harley’s 1:10.64 in the 13-14 girls 100m backstroke also earned her the lane six slot in the final as she was the third fastest qualifier. while Walker (1:09.54) was seventh in the 15-17 girls, and Wilson (1:14.93) eighth in the 11-12 boys ahead of last night’s final.
Wilson also qualified to the 200m freestyle final with the third best time of 2:14.90 just ahead of countryman Nikoli Blackman (2:15.05), the latter of whom swam a personal best.
Jada Chatoor was fifth best in the 13-14 girls 200m freestyle heats in 2:15.90 and Aqeel Joseph, eighth in 200m boys equivalent in 2:09.46.
Last night’s programme featured the finals of the 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 400m individual medley and the 400m medley relay.
The Carifta Championships are also an additional opportunity for T & T athletes to qualify for the 2017 CCCAN Championships which are to be held in T&T in June.