By Sharon Robb
BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA, July 23, 2018—Swimmers who trained and competed at local Florida Gold Coast clubs and high schools are taking center stage at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatics Complex and Canadian Trials in Edmonton.
Plantation American Heritage and former USC Trojan Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago crushed the 50-meter butterfly for a gold medal in a lifetime-best 23.11 which now ranks fourth in the world. He first broke the record in prelims in 23.50.
Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, 29, won a gold medal and broke her second CAC meet record in the 50-meter breaststroke. She won in 30.19, fourth fastest mark in the world this season, bettering the previous record of 31.14 she set in morning prelims. It is the third fastest time of her long career and just .08 what she swam at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan where she took silver.
Atkinson also won a gold medal in the 50-meter butterfly in 26.60.
“It was pretty good,” Atkinson told reporters. “I’m starting to feel the effects of the dehydration and heat, so hopefully I can continue and get better as it goes along.
“My race was a bit harder than I thought. It wasn’t as clean as I thought it would have been but hopefully in the future we’ll get it better for the finals. It was more of the effects of the dehydration and tightening of the muscles.”
Atkinson was also fourth in the 100-meter freestyle in 55.41.
Atkinson now has 12 CAC Games gold medals in her career. Atkinson’s three gold medals are the only ones won by Jamaica since the Games opened on Thursday.
Athletes are competing in near 100-degree heat during the day.
Recent Duke University graduate Isabella Paez won the gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:11.26, just .01 shy of the Games record. It was her second “A” final of the meet. She also finished fourth in the 50-meter butterfly and was a member of Venezuela’s fourth place in the 800-meter freestyle relay (8:22.92).
The Venezuelan national team member swam for Metro Aquatic Club of Miami and Ronald Reagan Doral High School before earning a scholarship to Duke where she represented the Blue Devils at the NCAA Championships.
Her mom posted on Facebook: “There are no words to see your daughter make the anthem of your country, Bravo Isa, you are a warrior, we love you mucho.”
Held every four years since 1926, the CACs are a multi-sport competition involving countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico and the South American countries of Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.
Florida State senior William Pisani, a Riviera Beach Suncoast alum and Lake Lytal Lightning club swimmer, earned a spot on Canada’s national team for the Aug. 9-12 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
Pisani earned his spot on the 32-roster men’s team with a second-place finish in the 100-meter butterfly in 53.17 at the Canadian Trials in Edmonton, Alberta.
“I am so happy for Will,” FSU head coach Neal Studd said. “He is a great example of what happens when talent works hard. His improvements here at FSU in the last two years show how well he has focused on what he does every day and making his first national team with two years until the Olympics is great timing. The future looks bright.”
Pisani also took third in the 50-meter freestyle in 22.51, just .04 off the FINA A standard, and fifth in the 100-meter freestyle in 49.92 after swimming a personal best in prelims in 49.59.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com