CARIFTA Swimming Championships gold medalist Jessica Stephenson collected an overall six gold and two bronze medals to win the title of girls’ 15 and over age group champion at the Blue Waters Invitational Age Group Championships which concluded last Sunday at the Marlins Swimming Pool, Trinidad.
The Trinidad-based Guyanese swimmer represented her club, the hosts Marlins Swim Club to win six individual and two team medals at the internationally sanctioned four-day meet.
Also participating at the event was Guyana’s Britany van Lange, who represented the Guyana Combined Team and landed two bronze medals.
Other Guyanese swimmers who competed at the meet were Athena Gaskin and Onika George who comprised the remaining participants of the Guyana Combined Team while Trinidad-based Guyanese Noelle Smith, who represented her club, the UWI Swim Team, also participated in the event.
Participating in a total of 10 events, Stephenson toppled two individual competition records and was a part of the winning relay teams that restructured the records of the girls’ 15 and over 4x50m medley relay (2:17.18s) and the 4x100m freestyle relay (4:23.78s) events.
The breaststroke specialist won her first gold medal on Friday in the 200m breaststroke event.
Stephenson set the competition record at 2:45.60.
Preceding this performance was her bronze medal finish in the 400m freestyle race on the opening day of competition.
Stephenson finished the race in 5:12.25s.
Stephenson also produced a record performance on Saturday when she won the 50m breaststroke event in 34.65s. She toppled yet another record when she touched the wall in 10:45.07s to finish the 800m freestyle event. Stephenson gained her final gold medal in the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:16.94s. Her other bronze medal was won in the 200m freestyle event with a time of 2:26.00s. Stephenson also participated in the 50m freestyle (31.45s) and 100m freestyle events (1:06.51s).
Over in the girls 13 – 14 category, van Lange won her two bronze medals in the 50m freestyle (29.30s) and 100m freestyle (1:03.26s) events. Van Lange, who also participated in 10 events, finished fourth in the 400m freestyle (4:53.46s), and 200m backstroke (2:54.62s) events and fifth in the 800m freestyle race touching the wall in 10.19.12s.
She also participated in the 50m backstroke (37.67s), 50m butterfly (33.94s), the 200m freestyle (2:20.07) the 100m butterfly (1:15.24s) and the 100m backstroke (1:20.01s) events.
The youngest swimmer of the group, George, who swam in the girls’ 11 -12 category, participated in the 50m backstroke (37.91s) as well as the 100m freestyle (1:13.61s), the 50m butterfly (37.31s), the 100m backstroke (1:29..02s) and the 50m freestyle (32.55s) events.
Gaskin and Smith both participated in seven events in the girls 15 and over category.
Gaskin narrowly missed the podium in the 200 freestyle (2:29.34s) while Smith missed the podium after finishing fourth in the 50m breaststroke.
Her 39.54 seconds was not enough to overcome Venezuela’s Daniella Borrell’s 37.43 seconds third place finish.
The annual Invitational always attracts the best swimmers from the Caribbean.
This year among the 392 registered swimmers were for the first time, over 30 entries from three Venezuelan clubs who gave all five of the Guyanese girls some very stiff competition.