Shirley's gold!

Sports

Shirley's gold!

Record-breaking Christanya, along with Alvaranga start UANA Swimming Cup with medals

Saturday, February 22, 2020

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Jamaica's five-member female team had a decent start to their UANA Swimming Cup campaign, landing one gold and a silver courtesy of Christanya Shirley and Zaneta Alvaranga on the opening day of action in Lima, Peru, yesterday.

The Malta-sponsored Jamaican team, which is one of, if not the smallest of the 25 countries gracing the South American nation, paraded their sprinting prowess with guts and determination as they sent out a warning that they are not to be ignored at the three-day event, which is the first international swim meet of 2020 season.

With 18 individual events being contested on the day, the Jamaicans were slightly slow off the blocks in the 200-metre Individual Medley (IM) at Videna Aquatic Complex.

Brooke Hopkins and Kokolo Foster were the first Jamaicans to grace the pool in the 13-14 IM where they clocked 2:51.81 minutes and 2:43.16 minutes for seventh in heats two and three, respectively. However, being that the events are timed finals, Hopkins' and Foster's times placed them 38th and 29th overall.

Alvaranga was next in the 15-17 IM where she utilised her usual quick start and signature underwater technique to place third in her heat in a new personal best of 2:38.87 minutes, bettering her previous best mark of 2:40.34 minutes.

Still, she was unable to hit the podium, as her performance was ranked 21st overall.

But things quickly changed for the Jamaicans in the 50m freestyle series, where Shirley stood true to her reputation of producing strong performances on the big stage, with a blistering win in the 11-12 event.

Shirley, 12, the youngest member of the team, went into the event as the third seeded athlete, but she rubbished that ranking by blazing a trail in heat five, winning in a fast 28.45 seconds.

That time, which erased the previous UANA Swimming Cup record of 28.77 seconds set by Brazil's Perola Santoa in 2018, stood out among the 43 competitors and provided Jamaica with its first medal of the outing. Ariana Valle (28.57secs) of El Salvador and Manuela Balan Sega (28.80secs) of Brazil took the other podium spots.

Foster and Hopkins tried gallantly to add to the team's tally in the 13-14 sprint but their times of 29.79secs and 30.18secs, which were just outside of their personal bests, ranked them 34th and 36th, respectively, in a field of 50 swimmers.

However, the second medal was delivered by Alvaranga in the 15-17 50m freestyle, where she swam alongside teammate Gabrianna Banks.

Both pushed each other from the blocks with brisk starts and maintained their composure to the end, where Alvaranga did 26.56 seconds and Banks in 27.36 seconds.

Alvaranga's time won her silver behind Mexico's Susana Hernandez Barradas, who won in 26.27 seconds, while Chloe Farro (26.74s) of Aruba was third.

Today's second day will see Shirley, Alvaranga and Banks contesting the 100m butterfly. Foster, Hopkins, Alvaranga and Banks will also carry the country's flag in the 50m breaststroke, while Alvaranga will be the lone Jamaican in the 100m backstroke.

The UANA Swimming Cup is a bi-annual premier swimming event hosted by The Swimming Union of the Americas. UANA's existence dates back to the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Jamaica's participation at last year's inaugural staging concluded with the team registering six best times and 20 new personal records overall, two age group records, and one senior national record.


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