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Jamaican swimmers shine at Florida State swim champs

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Jamaica's young swimmers showed their class in inspiring fashion as they produced a series of good performances when matching up with quality competition at the recently concluded Florida State Swimming Championships.

The young sensations Simone and Nicholas Vale, Cameron Brown, Adrian Grant and Emily MacDonald spurred their respective schools into contention at the highly competitive meet at the Sailfish Splash Park Aquatic Centre in Stuart, Florida.

Nicholas Vale was on top of his game for Pine Crest School, as he clocked 49.79secs to lower the school's near 30-year 100-yard butterfly record of 49.86secs set by Puerto Rican Olympian David Monasterio in 1988.

Heading into the event Vale, who boasted a personal record of 50.10secs set at the Regional Championships late last month, made his way to the championship final with a morning swim of 50.47secs, behind a 50-yard split of 23.77secs.

It was his first time in an individual championship final and the Jamaican made every effort count, despite missing out on a medal. He opened with a blistering 23.26secs when occupying the bronze medal position at the half-way mark, but was overhauled in the final stages by Jake Adcock (49.70secs) of The Bolles School.

Vale then combined with his teammates to also lower the school's 200-yard medley relay time of 1:33.82 minutes established in the same year by Monasterio and company.

The team of Elvis Kotikovski, Vale, Nico Ferrara and Jacob Silberman clocked a fast 1:33.77 minutes in the preliminary round, before returning in the final to lower the time even further to 1:33.15 minutes to cop bronze.

In the 100-yard backstroke, Vale destroyed to competition in commanding fashion in the B final, clocking a new personal best of 51.47secs.

Elsewhere in the pool, Vale's sister Simone, who was making her championship debut as one of the youngest athletes on show, may have failed to hit the podium, but also earned valuable points for Pine Crest.

She clocked a personal best 1:00.56 minutes in the 100-yard backstroke, which placed her 21st overall, as she lowered her previous personal best of 1:00.62 minutes set at the Regional Championship last month.

Pine Crest ended the championships in fourth place overall with 187 points.

Meanwhile, Cameron Brown of Sagemont also held his own against quality opposition when he lowered his previous 100-yard breaststroke personal best from 1:00.21 minutes to 59.73secs, which earned him a spot in the B final.

He went on to clock 1:00.08 minutes for seventh overall, which turned out to be the best result for Sagemont since 2011 when Aruban Jordy Groters made the championship final.

In the 200-yard medley relay, Brown produced freestyle splits of 22.31secs to help his team to a fourth-place finish in the B final in a time of 1:42.32 minutes.

Another Jamaican in Grant of the Bolles School was the winner of the 100-yard breaststroke B final, as he underlined his consistent improvement since joining the Jacksonville-based school.

Grant rewrote his previous personal best of 1:01.44 minutes, when he touched in 59.71secs on his way to the final.

The former Jamaica College student then clocked his fastest- ever 50-yard split of 27.67secs to be third at the halfway mark, but a split of 31.49secs in the second half of the event propelled him past rivals, as he stopped the clock in a personal best of 59.16secs.

The outstanding Jamaican Emily MacDonald, also representing Bolles School, was not to be left out of the action as she combined with teammates to cop bronze in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Leading off her team, MacDonald clocked splits of 23.91secs, which gave Stefanie Mendizabal, Kate Wilkerson and Sasha Ramey enough momentum to come home in third position in 1:35.67 minutes. MacDonald's opening leg was the fastest by a Bolles swimmer in the championship final since 2013.

She also produced the best performance for the school in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle since 2014 when she placed seventh and eighth, respectively, in new personal best times of 23.76secs and 52.60secs, lowering from 23.88secs and 52.67secs.



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