Caribbean Swimmers Crooks, Carter Make History At FINA Short Course World Championships; Meilutyte Takes Down Atkinson’s World Record In Semifinals

By Sharon Robb
MELBOURNE, Australia, December 17, 2022—It was a historical day for Caribbean swimmers Saturday night at the 16th FINA Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre.

University of Tennessee’s Jordan Crooks won the Cayman Islands’ first-ever gold medal at the world championships after winning the men’s 50-meter freestyle in 20.46.

Crooks, who grew up swimming in a 25-meter pool in the Cayman Islands, knocked off British defending champion Ben Proud and Australia’s Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers.

It was the first time since 1999 that a male swimmer from the Caribbean won a World short course gold medal when Rodolfo Falcon of Cuba won the 50 and 100 backstroke in Hong Kong.

Brooks was joined on the podium by another Caribbean swimmer, Dylan Carter of Trinidad & Tobago who took third in 20.72. It was the first medal for the Plantation American Heritage alum at worlds after two other attempts. Carter is only the second swimmer from his homeland to win a medal at worlds.

“I definitely had a bit of fire in me I wanted to come and show my hand in finals and I am very happy with how it played out,” Crooks said.

“I think it means a lot. The Cayman Islands is a very special place. I wouldn’t have grown up in any other place. I am very grateful for everything they have done for me as a person and swimmer.

“I hope it shows any little kid out there that may doubt themselves and may think that because they don’t have a specific resource that they might not be able to do it that it is possible. There is no set way of doing things, you can carve your own path.”

Carter had won this event at all three Swimming World Cup stops. His fellow countryman George Bovell won a bronze medal in the 100 IM in 2012. It was his nation’s fourth medal at worlds.

“I am happy to come away with something coming down here,” Carter said. “It was really fun. Proud of Jordan, you know, to have two Caribbean athletes in the men’s 50 final – that’s brand new. So both of us on the podium…that’s massive for the region and for serving the region, especially in the men’s 50 freestyle, which is, you know, arguably the fastest, well the fastest event in the pool so proud of that.”

Three more world records tumbled on Saturday with Australia and Italy breaking them in the women’s and men’s 4×50-meter medley relay. Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte broke the 50-meter breaststroke world record in the semifinals in 28.37, taking 2/10ths off SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson’s world record of 28.56 set in 2018.

Australia (Mollie O’Callaghan, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon and Madison Wilson) won the women’s relay in 1:42.35, 3/100ths off the 2018 record the U.S. set. The U.S. took silver in 1:42.41 with Claire Curzan, Lilly King, Torri Huske and Kate Douglass.

Italy’s team of Lorenzo Mora, Nicolo Martinenghi, Matteo Rivolta and Leonardo Deplano set the world record at 1:29.72, lowering their own mark of 1:30.14 from last year to become the first team faster than 90 seconds in the relay.

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri won the inaugural title in the 800-meter freestyle in 7:29.99.

American Hali Flickinger won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:26.51 for her first individual gold of worlds.

Japan’s Daiya Seto also made history with his six-peat in the men’s 400-meter individual medley in 3:55.75, the fastest of any of his six gold medals in the event. His streak began in 2012 when he was only 18.

Aussie Emma McKeon won her second gold medal of the night in the 50-meter freestyle in 23.04, an Oceania record.

In his final appearance at the meet, South Florida Aquatic Club’s 2020 Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego finished the 50-meter breaststroke prelims in 27.71.

The meet, which ends Sunday, is being live streamed on FINA’s YouTube channel. Meet prelims are 7 p.m. EST. Finals each day are 3:30 a.m. EST. Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Alia Atkinson, Dylan Carter Named CAC Athletes Of The Year

By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, December 31, 2020–Alia Atkinson and Dylan Carter were named Central American and Caribbean Female and Male Athletes of the Year.

The honors were mainly based on the swimmers’ International Swimming League second season performances, one of the few international competitions held because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Atkinson, 32, of South Florida Aquatic Club, a four-time Jamaican Olympian and former Sportswoman of the Year for Jamaica, was selected for the sixth year. Atkinson also earned the honor in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Atkinson, 32, ended her pro season ranking in the ISL as No. 15 on the prize money list. She was also No. 21 on the high point list.

At the ISL final in November in Budapest, Hungary, Atkinson, racing for the London Roar for the first year, finished the 100-meter breaststroke just under the world record of 1:02.36 with a time of 1:02.66 to win the first semifinal. Her time broke the league record and was the second fastest time in 2020. Atkinson finished second behind American Lilly King, who won in a record 1:02.50.

Atkinson was also a third-place finisher in the 50-meter breaststroke in the final at the ISL with 28.88 seconds giving her four of the 10 fastest times in race history. She also competed in the 100-meter butterfly in the first semifinal, setting a Jamaican national record in 57.13 seconds.

She ended the season ranked second in the world in the 100 short course meters breaststroke in 1:02.66 and third in the world in the 50 short course meters breaststroke in 28.88. She has the top-two fastest performances of all time in the 50.

Atkinson ended up earning more than $62,000 not including team bonuses, stipends and perks.

Carter, 24, a Plantation American Heritage and USC alum who represents Trinidad and Tobago internationally, also had a successful ISL season for the LA Current helping them make the final. He earned $17,169 in prize money not including team bonuses, stipends and perks.

Carter, a 2016 Olympian, set national records for Trinidad and Tobago in the 100 backstroke (49.91), 100 freestyle (46.56) and 100 butterfly (50.70), now giving him seven national records in short course meters and nine long course meters.

With a playoff berth hanging in the balance, Carter swam well in the regular-season finale, going 50.11 in the 100 backstroke to help the LA Current take a 1-2 finish. Known more as a butterflyer and freestyler, Carter continued to do well in the backstroke, going 23.28, 23.93 and 24.99 in the 50 backstroke skin race to highlight a 1-2 sweep for his team.

The LA Current finished fourth overall in the ISL final.

Carter, a Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games medalist, was also named Sportsman of the Year at the 2020 ceremony, held virtually because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Sebastian Lares, Jonathan Farah Medal, FGC Swimmers Dominate CCCAN Swimming Championships

By Sharon Robb

July 5, 2017—Sebastian Lares of South Florida Aquatic Club brought home five medals and seven best times after the recent XXX Central American and Caribbean (CCCAN) Swimming Championships at National Aquatic Centre in Balmain Couva, Trinidad & Tobago.

Lares, 12, won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal and finished fourth and fifth in other events while swimming best times in every event.

Lares won the 100-meter butterfly in 1:03.47 with a time drop of 3.79 and 200-meter individual medley in 2:23.31 with a huge time drop of 5.57.

Lares took two silver medals in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:06.55 with a 7.56 drop and 400-meter freestyle in 4:29.02 with an impressive 15.11 time drop.

Lares also finished third for a bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:07.94 with a 1.25 drop.

Lares was fourth in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:24.20 with a 5.26 time drop and fifth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:28.88 with a 2.12 drop.

Lares finished with 47 points for high point.

His older brother, Andres Lares, 17, who trains with Azura Florida Aquatics, won a silver medal in the 15-17 1,500-meter freestyle. He was second in 16:31.79, dropping 4.86 seconds off his previous best of 16:36.65. Lares had 14 points. His other best finish was fifth in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:11.31.

The brothers are members of the Panama national team.

SOFLO’s Jonathan Farah, 19, a sophomore-to-be at Boston College and Plantation American Heritage alum, medaled as a member of Trinidad and Tobago’s 18-and-over 800-meter freestyle relay that finished third in 8:12. Farah’s teammates were Jabari Baptiste, Sachin Sankar and Joshua Romany.

Farah was also sixth in the 200-meter individual medley in a best time 2:15.96; seventh in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:19.10, another best time dropping 3.52 seconds; and 11th in the 50-meter breaststroke prelims in 31.78.

Two-time Olympian Ana Fortin, 44, of Honduras, the oldest swimmer in the CCCAN field, won a gold medal with the 400-meter freestyle relay and two silvers on the 800-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley relays.

Among current or former Florida Gold Coast swimmers best results are:

Marcelo Acosta, 20, Louisville/Azura, El Salvador: won the 1500-meter freestyle, 15:39.51; won 200-meter butterfly, 2:06.46; won 400-meter freestyle, 3:55.54; second 200-meter freestyle, 1:51.73.

Lani Cabrera, 23, Barbados: third, 200-meter freestyle, 2:10.75; fourth, 400-meter freestyle, 4:37.62.

Dylan Carter, 20, Plantation American Heritage, Trinidad & Tobago: won 100-meter butterfly, 52.73; won mixed 200-meter freestyle relay, 1:38.40; won 200-meter freestyle, 1:48.91; won 400-meter freestyle relay.

Cathy Cooper, 17, Plantation American Heritage, Panama: third on 200-meter freestyle relay, 1:42.25; third 400-meter freestyle relay, 4:01.50; second 100-meter freestyle, 58.39; fourth on 800-meter freestyle relay, 9:00.94; third 50-meter freestyle, 26.47.

Jordy Groters, 21, Missouri, Aruba: second 50-meter breaststroke, 28.57; second 100-meter breaststroke 1:04.07.

Irvin Hoost, 17, St. Brendan, Surinam: third, 400-meter freestyle relay, 3:37.44; fourth 100-meter freestyle 52.86; fourth 400-meter medley relay, 4:07.30.

Daniel Jacobs, 16, University School, Aruba: fourth, 200-meter freestyle relay, 1:43.19; first 200-meter freestyle, 1:54.82; first, 400-meter freestyle, 4:01.85.

Andres Lares, 17, Azura, Panama: second, 1500-meter freestyle, 16:31.79; fifth, 400-meter freestyle 4:11.31.

Sharntelle McLean, 32, Trinidad & Tobago: fourth, 400-meter freestyle relay, 4:14.14; third, 400-meter medley relay, 4:40.78; fourth, 100-meter freestyle 59.76.

Chade Nersicio, 15, Trinity Christian/East Coast Aquatic Club, Curacao: second, 100-meter butterfly, 1:02.27; won 50-meter butterfly, 27.59; third, 50-meter breaststroke, 34.24; won 100-meter freestyle 57.67; second, 50-meter freestyle 26.45; second 100-meter breaststroke 1:14.27.

Jhonny Perez, 19, Azura, Dominican Republic: sixth, 50-meter backstroke, 28.42; seventh, 50-meter freestyle, 24.05.

Racine Ross, 16, Pine Crest, Trinidad & Tobago: second on 400-meter medley relay, 4:33.33; sixth 100-meter butterfly, 1:04.46.

Andrea van den Berg, 18, Azura, Aruba; fifth, 800-meter freestyle, 9:56.90; fifth, 400-meter freestyle, 4:39.29.

Sidrell Williams, 20, St. Andrew’s, Jamaica: tenth, 50-meter butterfly prelims, 26.32.

Sharon Robb can be reached at