Natwest Island Games XVI - Jersey Island Games - a time to shine

Swimming Wrap

Four of the noisiest events of the 2015 NatWest Island Games came at the swimming finals at Les Quennevais, with packed houses watching some high-class races.

Swimming Wrap

In the first night on Monday there was a lively atmosphere at Les Quennevais and gold medals for six islands spread across the 11 finals.

Sara Nysted of the Faroe Islands claimed double individual gold in the 400m medley and 200m freestyle events while her team-mate Pal Joensen claimed the men's 1500m freestyle. Isle of Man took 100m butterfly gold through Charlotte Atkinson, and Charlotte was also a member of the winning 4x50m freestyle relay Manx quartet.

Another with two golds was Jersey's Ian Black with a time of 60.24 to take the 100m breastroke title, and joining his team-mates for 4x50m medley gold.

The other island to win two gold in the pool was Shetland thanks to Andrea Strachan's 50m breaststroke win and Felix Gifford's triumph in the 200m butterfly. Shaune Fraser of Cayman won gold in the 200m individual medley, and Tom Hollingsworth of Guernsey was first to touch in the 50m backstroke to take gold.


Following on from six Island games records on the opening night, Tuesday continued the momentum with a further five. The Faroes continued to impress in the pool with a further four gold medals to add to the three obtained on Monday. Pal Joensen lowered the games record in the 400 IM and won further individual gold in the mens 200 freestyle. The next event saw Kara Hanlon destroy the games record in the 200 metre breaststroke and win the first ever gold medal for the Western Isles in the pool.

Golds followed for Shaun Fraser (Cayman) in the 100 fly and a great performance saw Courtney Butcher of Guernsey win the women's 100 metres backstroke.  Ian Black of Jersey again impressed with another games record, beating Darren Mew's record set in 1997 in the men's 50 metres breaststroke.

Charlotte Atkinson continued on the medal trail for the IOM with a new record in the 50 fly and followed this with another gold in the women's  200 IM. In the final two relays Guernsey narrowly beat Jersey in the 200 freestyle, while the Faroe Islands ladies team set a new games record to win the 200 medley. That made it 11 records in two days, with more undoubtedly to follow.


A lively night at Les Quennevais on Wednesday ended in a home-town hubbub as Jersey surged to a brace of relay golds at the climax of the third night's racing. Wednesday also saw new games record marks set in four of the 10 finals.

The host island broke the games record in the 4x100 medley relay by more than two seconds, comfortably winning gold after a storming start by Tom Gallichan (backstroke) and Ian Black (breaststroke), and then Jersey's women repeated the feat with a narrow win over the Isle of Man in the 4x100 free.

Gallichan also took individual gold by a wide margin in the 200-metre backstroke. Jersey's three golds were matched by the sibling Olympians from the Cayman Islands: Brett Fraser won the 50-metre fly and 100-metre free events, while older brother Shaune claimed 100-metre medley gold in the night's opening race, lowering the games record time by a second.

Four other golds were shared around, with two more games records by female swimmers: Andrea Strachan of Shetland Islands in the  100-metre breaststroke and Isle of Man's Charlotte Atkinson in the 50-metre free. Courtney Butcher of Guernsey won the 200-metre backstroke, and there were contrasting fortunes for two Faroese 14-year-olds: Var Eidesgaard was leading with two lengths to go but finished her event 50 metres early, allowing her team-mate Sara Nysted to pass her and take gold. Eidesgaard did recover to claim bronze.


Charlotte Atkinson of the Isle of Man produced the stand-out swim of Thursday's final night at Les Quennevais as her time of 2.09.37 lowered the 200m butterfly games record by an astonishing margin of over seven seconds.

The Manx team claimed three golds on Day 4, a haul matched by Guernsey, for whom Tom Hollingsworth lowered the games record in winning the 100m backstroke. Kathryn Offer of the Western Isles claimed her team's second gold of the week, winning the 50m backstroke in 28.79. Pal Joenson of the Faroes grabbed double gold, following his 400m freestyle win with a games record of 2.14.82 in the 200m breaststroke.

Joenson's efforts helped his team to the top of the final medals table with 10 golds, two ahead of the Isle of Man. Guernsey stormed to victory in the final men's relay of the event, the 4x100m freestyle, in a games record of 3.21.46 and this gold medal was enough to put Guernsey just above their Channel Island rivals Jersey in third place in the medals table by a margin of 7-6 on golds.


On behalf of the swimming organisers, meet manager Paul Du Feu said: "We were delighted with the way the four days ran; our team of 130-plus volunteers worked very hard and were highly efficient, and the enthusiasm and smiles from everyone involved was great, as was the noise from spectators every night.

"We had some real quality on display, with world-class and international-class athletes in more than half the events, and also a good number of entries, with three heats in the majority of events.

"And while it was a serious event, run to professional standards, we didn't forget to enjoy ourselves, and having 138 participants in the final relay was great fun!"


Words: Tom Innes & Neil Faudemer - Pics: Charlotte Angell