50M BACKSTROKE WINNER: T&T’s Justin Samlalsingh

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GOLDEN START

...For T&T at Carifta Swim Champs

By Mark Pouchet Aruba

Youth Olympic qualifiers David Mc Leod and Kristin Julien shattered championship records as they led Trinidad and Tobago to second place at the end of the first night of the 29th Carifta Swimming Championships Tuesday.

T&T swimmers claimed six gold, two silvers and two bronze on a night when they earned 124.5 pts, to be marginally ahead of hosts Aruba (124) but behind the Bahamas (163).

But Justin Samlalsingh actually got this country’s gold medal- winning streak off to a terrific start when he powered down one lap of the Roly Bislik Olympic pool in Savanetta, Oranjestad to win the Boys 13-14 50m backstroke in 28.42 seconds.

The win was even more impressive as he collided with the lane line at 40 metres and nearly came to a complete stop. But the T&T backstroker was able to correct his course and accelerate enough to pip Antigua and Barbuda’s Noah Mascoll-Gomes (28.82) and Aruba’s Patrick Groters (28.89).

Julien followed immediately with an impressive display of power and speed to register a 29.84 clocking in the Girls 15-17 50m backstroke to break T&T’s Kimberlee John-Williams 30.05 2010 mark.

Then Mc Leod blew away the field with even more command in the Boys 15-17 50m backstroke, lowering his personal best to 26.31 with teammate Jabari Baptiste completing the one-two sweep for T&T in 27.50. Mc Leod again achieved an Youth Olympic A standard with the swim and lowered T&T’s Youth Olympic gold medallist Christian Homer’s 26.70 Carifta mark.

Jada Chai led from start to finish to complete the T&T sequence of four consecutive golds with her one minute, 08.31 seconds splash in the Girls 11-12 100m butterfly. Teammate Vrisnelit Faure was fourth in 1:12.23.

Chai also earned bronze in the Girls 11-12 50m backstroke (32.79) The other two gold came in the Girls 11-12 and the Boys 15-17 4 x 100 freestyle relays.

Deshorn Edwards led off the girls who were sixth after the first leg before Jahmia Harley produced a brilliant second leg to surge T&T back to the lead. But Vrisnelit Faure fought but was surpassed by the Bermudan team in lane seven in the last five metres. But Chai produced a strong finish to just out touch her Bermudan opponent on the final leg in an exciting finish (4:22.73 to 4:22.93), Baptiste anchored another T&T relay to victory in the Boys 15-17 4 x 100m free.

But Mc Leod’s opening leg of 53.19 gave T&T a two body-length lead that Joshua Ramkissoon and Jeron O’Brien never relinquished.

The Boys 13-14 4 x 100m freestyle relay quartet of Osaze Riley, James Gillette, Christopher Mohammed and Kale Yorke just missed out on gold by six hundredths to Jamaica (3:46.99 to 3:47.05).

The T&T swimmers were set to continue their Carifta campaign last night in the finals of the 200m free, 50 fly, 100m back and the 4 x 100m medley relays.
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