USVI swimmer Mays wins silver medal at CARIFTA

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The Virgin Islands National Swim Team recently wrapped up a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, for the 2013 CARIFTA Swimming Championships at the National Stadium Pool.

The V.I. was represented by nine swimmers: Hannah Clements, Sasha Klein and Portia Norkaitis from St. Thomas, and Matthew Mays, Kenny Wilson, Jonathan Thomas, Webster Bozzo, Victor Torres and Nicholas Dascher from St. Croix. They faced competition from more than 300 swimmers, from 22 different nations.

"The competition was real fast this year, which made it exciting," said V.I. coach John Vasbinder.

Highlights from the week included Matthew Mays' second-place finish in the 200-meter butterfly and fourth in the 400-meter individual medley. Mays' performance earned him a spot in the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships (CCCAN) in Costa Rica from June 29 to July 5.

Mays took second in a tight race in the 200-meter butterfly, narrowly beating the third-place finisher to the final wall by tenths of a second.

"I was third basically the whole way, and then the last 50 meters I out-touched the guy for second place," said the 14-year-old Mays, who also said he accomplished his main goals at CARIFTA.

"To record my best time, win a medal, have fun, and make it to CCCAN," he said.

Victor Torres, 17, finished fifth in the 200-meter backstroke, and in the process, he qualified for the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships.

Sasha Klein finished eighth in the 50-meter fly, and Portia Norkaitis took eighth in the 50-meter breaststroke. Both girls had previously qualified for the CCCAN in those respective races.

"It's good to see that we have already four kids qualified for next year," Vasbinder said. "They were a good group and they stayed focused."

Klein, Norkaitis and Mays also qualified for next year's CARIFTA Championships. Torres will be past the age limit by next year.

For these four athletes, their focus must now shift to training for the CCCAN, which, according to Mays, means training six days a week.

"CARIFTA and CCCAN are my two major swimming events. So it's pretty important," Mays said.

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