Swimmers flock to long-distance races at Tornadoes meet
Zaneta Alvaranga of Kaizen Swim Club catches her breath after one of her six record-breaking races during the Tornadoes Swim Club Invitational meet at the National Aquatic Centre on Sunday. (Photos: Jason Tulloch)

IF ever there was a challenge that Wendy Lee hoped the Tornadoes Swim Club Invitational meet would have, it is that some sessions would run longer than anticipated.

For Lee, the Tornadoes Swim Club head coach, this was a very good problem, given the fact that most of the events at the 25th edition of the three-day meet were over 200 metres — distances which Jamaican swimmers don’t often gravitate to.

However, given the presence of athletes from St Lucia, Cayman Islands, Sint Maarten, Mexico, Egypt, and the United States, the Jamaicans drummed up motivation and surpassed expectations, showing that their prowess goes beyond sprinting.

In fact, Zaneta Alvaranga of Kaizen Swim Club was among the standout Jamaican performers, accounting for six of the 26 records broken as the curtains came down on Sunday’s final day at the National Aquatic Centre.

Charles McIntosh of Aquamarine Ripples accounted for four records, while Nelson Denny of Tornadoes Swim Club, Leanna Wainwright, swimming unattached, and Zachary Randle of Y-Speedos had two records each.

LEE...some races had 10 heats because swimmers wanted to swim long races, and that is not something that often happens in Jamaica (Photo: Jason Tulloch)

Sierrah Broadbelt of Seven Miles Swim Club out of Cayman Islands accounted for five records.

However, it was Lee’s Tornadoes Swim Club that topped the team standing, tallying 1,319.5 points to retain the trophy. Y-Speedos Swim Club was second with 817.5 points and Aquamarine Ripples third with 732.5 points.

Cayman Islands development team (273 points) and Kaizen Swim Club (271.5 points) completed the top five.

“Our goal really was focused on making sure that all the swimmers here in Jamaica and from overseas get an opportunity to perform and we created an environment where they can swim fast,” Lee said.

“We had some long sessions which was very challenging for the officials and volunteers, but personally, I am excited that, that was our biggest challenge because many of our races were 200-metre and above, which is not necessarily our favoured distance in Jamaica, and the fact that we opened the door for athletes to compete in these events augurs well for the growth of the sport going forward,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

“Some races had 10 heats because swimmers wanted to swim long races, and that is not something that often happens in Jamaica, and we are happy that we were able to create that opportunity being back for the first time in three years,” Lee added.

Alvaranga’s records in the girls’ 15-17 age group came in the 100m butterfly where she clocked 1:05.08, lowering the previous mark of 1:15.62.

She ventured into unfamiliar territory in the 1,500m freestyle and stopped the clock in 20 minutes and 14 seconds, taking almost two minutes off the old mark of 22:03.52.

In the 200m individual medley (IM), another unusual event for her, Alvaranga clocked 2:34.74 to better the previous time of 2:47.38 and she later followed that up with a 59.76 seconds clocking in the 100m freestyle, bettering 1:00.25.

Alvaranga returned to the sprints and topped the 50m freestyle in 26.89 seconds, erasing the old mark of 27.92s. And she brought the curtains down on her record-breaking exploits with victory in the 200m breaststroke where she stopped the clock in 3:00.02, lowering the previous 3:22.84.

McIntosh’s records in the boys’ 13-14 category came in the 800m freestyle where he clocked 9:31.27, erasing 9:55.05 and later in the 400m freestyle, which he won in 4:34.61 to better 4:38.24. In the 200m freestyle he clocked 2:09.61, just bettering the old mark of 2:09.62, while in the 200m butterfly he stopped the clock in 2:25.13, erasing 2:26.92.

Broadbelt gave her Cayman Islands teammates much to cheer about with victory in the girls’ 13-14 100m butterfly, which she won in 1:06.22, lowering 1:07.40, as well as in the 200m and 400m IM.

She won those events in 2:39.84 and 5:32.72, which bettered 2:42.33 and 5:48.17, respectively.

Her others were in the 200m butterfly, where she clocked 2:30.79, erasing the old mark of 2:38.88, and the 200m backstroke, which she won in 2:35.66. The previous record was 2:38.63.

Sherdon Cowan

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