By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
In the final tune up for her July 30th competition in the Tokyo Olympic Games, Swimmer Elinah Phillip completed a busy weekend with a 100m Free National Record, in the Speedo Sectionals-
Southern Zone, in Gainesville, Florida on Sunday.
Phillip won the 100m Free B final in 58.17 seconds, after qualifying with 59.00. Phillip, who will face the starters gun in the 50m Free in Tokyo, had a time of 26.30 seconds for second in her pet event, after a 26.16 swim in the prelims. In the 200m Free, she recorded a time of 2 minutes 15.61 seconds and also dropped a 25.93 seconds split on her 50m Free relay leg in the final, after splitting 25.62 during the morning prelims.
“Coming into the competition, I was really looking for consistency, but some of my swims didn’t necessarily go how I wanted them in the morning (session),” Phillip told Island Sun Sports. “I made some adjustments, got some points and some tips from my coach for the afternoon swims and those things helped a lot.”
Phillip said her record run to end the individual competition didn’t go well during the morning prelims. She said her 59.00 wasn’t a bad swim, but a strong swim. However, it was more difficult than she expected it to be.
“I’m very fit so I know I should have been able to hold my speed towards the end and the performance would have been better,” she explained, noting that she spoke to coach Randy Horner who told her to get more air in the first 25m and see if it helps and finish the race stronger. “When I came back in the afternoon, I took that advice, as well as the advice from my Coach Brian Moffitt who said to just have fun. I relaxed, just let everything flow and I swam a personal best.”
This time a year ago, Phillip, who was at Rutgers where she began her Collegiate career, was out of swimming and not training because of the pandemic—a break that ended up lasting eight months. She returned to the sport in January after transferring to Florida International University and later began competing. The territory’s swimming standard bearer said that everything she has done at FIU over the last seven months, has surprised her.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to be this fit and in shape at this point in time—something I have to remind myself all the time when I’m particularly hard on myself after a swim that didn’t particularly go my way,” she pointed out. “My journey to this point hasn’t been the smoothest and I can’t expect perfection for myself.”
Phillip has also seen the Olympic Games that was delayed to this year because of the pandemic and being away from the pool for eight months, as a blessing in disguise. She stated that the time away from the pool helped her. She said that without the break, she wouldn’t have been at FIU.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Phillip said. “The time away has helped me, more than pushing through what has been. This weekend was a good point to see where I am and the things I really need to work on and also to see the decisions I make, how I manage certain pressures out of competition. So it helped me to narrow down and focus on specific things for Tokyo.”
Phillip, who learnt to swim on Long Bay, Beef Island, has gone on to represent the BVI in several international competitions including the FINA World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, despite the territory not having a pool. She’s the BVI’s most decorated Carifta Games medalist in any sport that competes in Carifta. Phillip advised any young person in the territory wanting to follow in her footsteps or be in any sport to have determination.
“And also, just your hard work because with those two, anything is possible, really,” she said. “Just make sure you’re happy in the sport—happy doing what you’re doing—those are the three most important things.”