WILDEY, Barbados, (CMC) – Bahamian Lilly Higgs won her maiden CARIFTA gold, Aruba smashed their own girls 400 metres freestyle relay record and Damon St Prix produced a blistering final leg in the corresponding boys event to lift Barbados to a sensational victory, on an action-packed opening night of the 30th CARIFTA Swimming Championships on Saturday.Higgs twice topped the podium in the 13-14 age group, capturing two of six gold medals for defending champions the Bahamas.
After winning her first medal – a bronze – in her second outing at CARIFTA level last year, Higgs scaled new heights in her fledgling career.
Swimming at the Barbados Aquatic Centre, she opened her account with victory in the 800 metres freestyle when she clocked nine minutes, 32.82 seconds to easily brush her aside her field.
She touched the wall well ahead of Florence Kock of Aruba who was timed at 9:40.61 and Jamaican Annabella Lyn, who was third in 9:41.98.
Higgs returned in the 200m breaststroke to also dominate, timed at 2:41.14 as she dismissed the challenge of Shne Joachim of St Vincent and the Grenadines who was second in 2:45.67.
Her national counterpart, Victoria Russell, was second in 2:47.60.
Bahamian Joanna Evans was equally as dominant in the girls 15-17 800m freestyle, storming to victory in 8:49.42. Barbadian Hannah Gill was 20-odd seconds behind in 9:12.88 while Michelle Dols of Jamaica finished a distant third in 9:19.10.
Aruba, meanwhile, broke one of two records to fall in the night cap relays. Competing in the girls 13-14 400m freestyle, the team of Anahi Schreuders, Elisabeth Timmer, Keeley Maduro and Florence Kock clocked 4:01.04 to wipe four seconds off the old mark of 4:05.74 posted last year.
Three members of the team — Schreuders, Maduro and Kock — were part of the record-setters last year as well.
Bermuda were a distant second in 4:08.27 while French Caribbean side Guadeloupe touched the wall in 4:10.72.
The other record came in the 11-12 age group of the same event when Cayman Islands were timed at 4:17.71 to break the 4:18.39 set by Aruba two years ago in Jamaica.
Jamaica were nearly eight seconds behind in second, clocking 4:25.43 with hosts Barbados coming in third in 4:27.73.
Barbados produced one of the highlights of the night when St Prix unveiled a superb final leg in the 13-14 freestyle relay to hand the hosts gold.
Swimming the final leg, St Prix was into the water second, at least five metres behind Martinique, who had led for the entire contest.
However, St Prix sensationally charged down Martinique’s anchor Heindrick Champrobert over the first 50 metres to be narrowly behind at the turn.
Over the final 50m, St Prix steadily hauled in Champrobert and though still behind with 25m to swim, produced a turn of speed in the final moments to touch the wall first.
Barbados were clocked at 3:46.52 and Martinique, 3:46.81, with Jamaica third in 3:49.19.