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Triple gold for T&T swimmers

By Mark Pouchet

The Trinidad and Tobago youngster stepped up to the plate as the trio of Jada Chai, Jeron Thompson and Kael Yorke splashed to gold when the third and penultimate night of the 29th Carifta Swimming Championships Thursday night.

At the Roly Bislik Olympic pool in Savaneta, Oranjestad, Aruba, team T&T depended on the young trio to bag three gold with Osaze Riley bringing in the country’s fourth medal, a silver on the night.

T&T’s three-day medal tally stood at 26 (14 gold, 7 silver, 5 bronze) good enough for second on the medal table and only behind this year’s likely champions the Bahamas with 39 (16-15-8) but ahead of hosts Aruba. In the points tally, T&T are now fifth (341.5) with the Bahamas way out ahead in first (544), followed by Aruba (471), Guadeloupe (413), and Martinique (354). 

Chai sped to this country’s first gold in the Girls 11-12 100m freestyle when she blazed two laps of the pool in a new personal best of 1:01.75. Like in her 100m butterfly win, Chai’s speed was too hot to handle for her competitors, including her teammate Jahmia Harley (7th in 1:04.51) who floundered in her slipstream.

“I felt kind of happy and excited at winning my second medal and I am hoping to finish strong tonight (Thursday),” said the 13-year-old Chai, who was scheduled to splash into action of the Girls 11-12 50m freestyle and 200m backstroke finals last night. 

Chai also suffered disappointment when she finished third in the Girls 11-12 200m butterfly event but was disqualified on a technicality. Eligibility for age group swimming is determined by a swimmer’s age at December 31 of the previous year.

A few events later her club and teammate 13-year-old Jeron Thompson also gave a display of power and speed when he dashed down the pool for the Boys 13-14 50m breaststroke in a new T&T national record of 31.58, breaking Jeron O’Brien’s 31.86 former mark.

Then Kael Yorke, who turned 14 on the first day of the competition Tuesday, gave himself and the T&T team a belated gift with a gold medal swim in the Boys 13-14 200m butterfly event, pacing his way to a new personal best time of  2:14.71. 

And Riley blazed to a 54.70 silver medal swim behind Bermuda’s Jesse Washington. Luke Gillette was fifth in the Boys 11-12 50m breaststroke in a personal best 35.12 seconds. Vrisnelit Faure also finished fifth in the Girls 11-12 200m individual medley (IM) in 2:41.75.

Youth Olympic qualifier Kristin Julien was sixth in 1:00.77 for the Girls 15-17 100m freestyle and fellow Youth Olympic standard achiever Jabari Baptiste who was just pipped for a medal in fourth in  the Boys 15-17 100m freestyle (53.14).

The swimming part of the competition concluded last night and gives way to the open water 5km competition where T&T has nine swimmers representing the country today from 8 a.m.

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