Washington sets sights on final places
Jesse Washington has set himself the ambitious target of reaching the final in at least one of his events at the Pan American Games.
The Bermuda swimmer arrived in Lima with team-mate Madelyn Moore and coach Ben Smith on Sunday, just a few days after competing at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
Washington said he was encouraged by his displays at the championships, finishing 69th overall in the 100 freestyle in a time of 51.67sec and 61st in the 100 butterfly in 57.29.
The 20-year-old will be hoping to improve on those times as he pursues personal bests in all four of his events, which also include the 50 and 200 freestyle.
“The world championships were a great experience,” said Washington, who competes in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly heats today. “I came close to my PB in the 100 free; I just came up short. My goal [in Lima] is to hit PBs and find myself in the finals if possible.”
Washington, who attends the Southern Methodist University in Texas, represented Bermuda at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, last summer, but did not make the final in any of his events.
Smith, however, said he will be more than satisfied if Washington and Moore are able to return to Bermuda with personal bests under the belt.
“The expectation is always just to get personal best times,” Smith said. “We've been building up quite a bit of experience, firstly with the world championships and now we're at the Pan Am Games.”
The quick turnaround between the world championships and Pan Am Games has posed Washington and Moore some challenges, Smith admits, although he is confident they can handle the pressures of competing at back-to-back high-level competitions.
“We've had to go through time-zone change and the transition of getting rest and getting prepared for a competition at such a high level,” he said.
“We would have liked a little more time [between competitions], but we had to attend the world championships; it's a precursor for Olympic Games qualification [in Tokyo next summer].
“We weren't going to miss the opportunity to be here at the Pan Ams and most of the athletes here also competed in Gwanju. It's not as if we're the only ones in this boat.
“I think [Madelyn and Jesse] have come through pretty well so far. They are excited about the competition and I'm just looking forward to them putting forward best times.”
Washington and Moore represent the island's new cycle of swimming talent and have seamlessly stepped up to fill the voids left by Roy-Allan Burch, Julian Fletcher and Rebecca Heyliger, who have retired in the past few years.
Smith had hoped to have four swimmers competing in Lima, but Kyle Legband was ruled out through injury while Elan Daley withdrew from the squad because of family commitments.
“Kyle broke his ankle in May and that knocked him out,” Smith added.
“Elan actually swam really well at the worlds [in Gwanju], which was the first big stage for her and it just shows that she has a really bright future.
“Maddie and Jesse were champing at the bit as they were coming up behind Rebecca, Julian and Roy. For them to have their opportunity at an important games is a huge step.”