The Cayman Islands has a proud history of producing world class swimmers in recent years who have competed at the Olympics and it looks as if Jillian Crooks is a shoo-in to repeat that distinction.
Crooks is only 14 but she has been smashing national junior records for years and is already setting senior records. Cayman is blessed with a raft of talented female swimmers and Crooks is already right up there with the best of them.
Last Thursday, she was setting new national times again, this time at the Union Americana National Olympic qualifier in Clermont, Florida. This time she crushed not only her 13-14 mark in the 50 metres butterfly but the senior national record to become the fastest Caymanian female swimmer ever, in 28.72 seconds.
Her old 13-14 mark stood at 29.72 and the senior national mark was set by Lauren Hew from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. This swim placed Crooks in 11th place overall at the meet and the youngest swimmer in the top 16.
As the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming looks likely to go ahead in Barbados at the end of June, the 13-14 championship record by Puerto Rican star Miriam Sheehan of 27.86 secs looks certain to be smashed by the Caymanian teenager.
Jillian has impeccable sporting genes. She is the younger sister of Jordan who is also a national record swimming holder and daughter of James Crooks, the karate instructor.
Although she has excelled in several sports, including synchronised and open water swimming, netball and karate, swimming remains her main focus presently. Too young and inexperienced to be heading for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, there is no doubting that she will be in the pool at the Paris Games in 2024.
Crooks started swimming aged 3 with classes provided by mobile swim instructors before joining the celebrated ‘Learn To Swim’ programme at the Camana Bay Aquatic Club. She has been swimming competitively since 2014, aged 8 and impressing all the time.
And since then Crooks has competed in many meets locally and internationally, setting numerous national records along the way.