2021 Swammy Awards: Joanna Evans is CAC Female Swimmer of the Year

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2021 Central American & Caribbean Female Swimmer of the Year: Joanna Evans

Joanna Evans of the Bahamas wins the 2021 Swammy Award for Central American and Caribbean Female Swimmer of the Year. Evans competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the 2021 FINA World Championships, and the 2021 International Swimming League regular and playoff seasons.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Evans placed 13th in the 400 meter freestyle in 4:07.50, just missing the National Record of 4:07.33 that she set in May 2021 at the Longhorn Elite Invite. Evans went on to place 18th in the prelims of the 200 meter freestyle, posting a 1:58.40, just 0.37 off her own 2018 National Record.

Evans was a vital member of the DC Trident during the 2021 ISL regular season and playoffs. As the ISL is a very sprint-oriented competition venue, many teams find themselves lacking in middle-distance specialists. Evans, however, stepped up for the Trident in the 200 and 400 freestyles, lowering the Bahamian National Record in the 200 freestyle first in Match 1 with a 1:56.63. Later, in Match 4, Evans brought the record down to 1:56.37, which she followed up with a 1:55.70 from the ISL “death match” (Naples Match 11) that saw DC win its first-ever ISL match and earn a spot in the semifinals. Later, in Playoff Match 1, Evans posted a 1:55.43, and a week later a 1:54.98 in Playoff Match 3. In Playoff Match 5, Evans lowered the record once again to a 1:54.36, the record that stands today.

Evans similarly lowered the Bahamian National Record in the 400 SCM freestyle multiple times during the 2021 ISL season, first posting a 4:04.48 in the regular season Match 1 in Naples. It is worth noting that Evans technically also broke the National Record in the 200 freestyle at the halfway mark during this swim, flipping in a 2:00.75. The following day, however, in the individual 200 freestyle, Evans would take this Record down to a 1:56.63. In Match 4, Evans lowered the mark to a 4:03.38, and then took it down to a 4:02.12 in Match 5. In the “death match,” Match 11 in Naples, Evans won the 400 freestyle in 4:00.14, winning by more than 2 seconds.

At the 2021 FINA World Championships, Evans became just the second Bahamian swimmer ever to advance to a short course world championships final–the only other being Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace who won bronze in the 50 freestyle at the 2011 version of the meet. Evans advanced to the final in both the 200 and 400 freestyles, ultimately finishing 8th in the 200 freestyle 7th in the 400 freestyle. Evans just missed her own National Records in each final in Abu Dhabi.

Honorable Mentions

  • Julimar Avila, Honduras: Avila made history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by becoming the first-ever Universality swimmer, as well as the first-ever swimmer from Honduras, to advance to an Olympic semifinal. Avila placed 16th in the prelims as well as 16th in the semifinals of the women’s 200 butterfly in Tokyo, lowering the Honduran National Record in the process to a 2:15.36. Avila lowered Honduran National Records in the 50 butterfly, 100 butterfly, 200 IM, 50 breaststroke, and 50 freestyle at the 2021 CCCAN Championships.
  • Madelyn Moore, Bermuda: 20-year-old Moore was dominant at the 2021 CCCAN Championships, winning a total of 4 races: the 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 fly. Three of those races registered as new Bermudian National Records, while Moore finished just off of her own National Record in the 100 freestyle. Moore lowered the Bermudian National Record in the 50 short course meters freestyle at the recent 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, placing 31st in 25.15 seconds. Moore, who swims at the University of Northern Colorado, was also named the 2021 Western Athletic Conference Female Swimmer of the Year. Already in the 2021-2022 NCAA season, Moore has been named the WAC swimmer of the week three times and has secured an NCAA ‘B’ cut in the 50 yard freestyle.
  • Lilly Higgs, Bahamas: Higgs, alongside Evans, elevated the Bahamas’ swimming profile at the 2021 FINA World Championships by resetting the 50 and 100 meter breaststroke National Records in 31.38 and 1:07.87, respectively. Higgs began 2021 competing at the NCAA Division I Championships representing North Carolina, where she swam the 100 breast, 200 breast, and 200 IM, though did not advance to finals in any event. Higgs later won both the 50 and 100 meter breaststrokes at the 2021 Bahamas National Championships, and placed 2nd in the 200 breaststroke.
  • Alia Atkinson, Jamaica: The recently-retired Atkinson finished her Olympic career with a 22nd-place finish in the women’s 100 breaststroke. Tokyo represented Atkinson’s 5th Olympic appearance, though Atkinson never earned an Olympic medal. Atkinson competed for the London Roar during the 2021 season of the International Swimming League, and finished the season with 260 MVP points, ranking her 15th overall (out of 488 total athletes). Atkinson won the women’s 50 breaststroke in the 2021 ISL Final, posting a 29.15, though she was out-touched by 0.10 in the 100 breaststroke, taking 2nd. Atkinson finished 2021 with a 4th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke at the FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, though she was disqualified in the semifinals of the 50 breaststroke. Her prelims time, however, would have equaled what it took in the final to place 3rd.

Past Winners

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About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six with the Clay Center Tiger Sharks, a summer league team. At age 14 he began swimming club year-round with the Manhattan Marlins (Manhattan, KS), which took some convincing from his mother as he was very …

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