Coach Smith hails wonder boy Washington
Jesse Washington led the medal-laden Bermuda national swim team back to local shores last night to a vocal reception at the LF Wade airport after his stunning performances at the Carifta Games Championships.
Washington and his eight team-mates were greeted with balloons, banners and airhorns as they sported silverware from various events at the spectacle in Nassau, Bahamas.
In what has been deemed as one of Bermuda’s best teams, the youngsters captured a remarkable 12 medals that included six gold and established 16 age group records, one overall national open record and 51 personal bests in the pool.
Leading the Island’s charge was the unstoppable Washington who claimed seven medals in only his second appearance at the regional swim meet.
The Sandys Middle School student won gold medals in the 11-12 boys 100 metre freestyle, 200 metre freestyle, 100 metre butterfly, 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre freestyle disciplines.
He also added a silver medal in the 50 metre backstroke and a bronze medal in the 400 metre freestyle and established 12 national records and personal bests in every event he competed in to be crowned the champion in his respective age group.
Of all the medals, he admitted his 100 metre free triumph was the most prized of all his accomplishments
“I worked with Roy-Allan (Burch) a bit and that helped me in my preparation for the Games, but overall it came down to really focusing and trying my best,” said Washington. “Of all the medals I won, the 100 free was the most prized because I really didn’t expect to win it, much less swim the time I did.”
Assistant coach Ben Smith added: “Jesse went for the first time last year and saw how the competition was and raised his game to that level and beyond, for the last year he has been preparing mentally and physically for what he would do and on the day he performed great.
“From the first race it was evident that he would do a lot of damage at the meet, and all the other teams were buzzing with excitement to see him race and to come back with the age group champion, high points champions and other accolades was amazing.”
Shannon Hassell also helped herself to a hat-trick of medals, claiming gold in the 200 metre backstroke, silver in the 100m backstroke and bronze in the 50 metre backstroke and also set multiple personal bests in the 1-12 girls age group.
“I’m pleased with all of my performances, although I really didn’t expect to swim as fast as I did,” said Hassell.
Others placing on the podium at the regional swim meet were Benedict Parfitt and Ashley Yearwood, with Parfitt winning the silver medal in the 15-17 Boys 50 metre freestyle while Yearwood won the bronze medal in the 15-17 girls 50 metre freestyle in her final Carifta Swimming Championships appearance.
Smith was also pleased with the overall team performance, not just those who claimed podium positions.
“It was an excellent competition for the whole team, it was a small team but each swimmer went there with a goal and focus to achieve their best and that’s what happen,” said Smith. “All nine swimmers did personal bests and obviously we came back with some of the results we have ever had.
“The team exceeded the overall expectations put on them because you never know what you will get from them until you get there, there are a lot of swimmer there and the nerves can kick in, but they handled it quite well.
“Everyone that made their finals, swam faster time then the ones they swam to to the final, so as team they were excellent and it is one of the best teams we have ever taken to the competition.”