TOP Trinidad and Tobago swimmer Dylan Carter rated his performances as some of the best of his career as he now pivots to refresh himself over the Christmas before engaging in a full cycle of training leading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
With the International Swimming League (ISL) 2020 — the second annual edition — completed last Sunday, the 24-year-old elite swimmer reflected on a positive experience in the ISL, the major competition on the international swimming calendar this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Grand Finale, at the ‘bio-secure’ bubble Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, over the weekend, Carter signed off with two of his best performances over the last six weeks, including a personal best (PB) in the two events the University of Southern California (USC) graduate consistently splashed into action; the men’s 50m freestyle (21.21 seconds) and the 100m backstroke (49.91 seconds).
Two weeks ago, Carter had also posted a new record for the 100m freestyle in the Los Angeles Current’s (LAC) fourth and last match of the regular season, when he dashed to a 46.56 seconds clocking, erasing a 16-year-old record by his mentor and friend George Bovell.
But the backstroke swim was special because it was the second time for the season he had broken his own national mark and was also the first time a Team TTO swimmer had dipped under the 50-second barrier for the event.
“My Olympic events were really good here. The 100m backstroke tonight (Sunday) was a PB, a new national record and the first time under 50 seconds. So that was really good and I think I am ranked seventh or eighth in the world in that event and coming into this year that was sort of a secondary event for me, so to see progress like that here is awesome.”
The 2019 Commonwealth Games silver medallist said mentally the ISL experience had given him the confidence of moving along quickly when things didn’t go his way
“I think what I learned is just the importance of being able to ride the ups and downs over these six weeks. It sounds short but it was a long season with lots of swims along the way, so being able to take the good swims, carry the momentum from it, and let the bad swims fall away,” Carter said. “I thought I had a good season... a better season than last year.”
Carter described the ISL as “an incredible experience”, the meet attracting most of the world’s top swimmers, including several Olympic and World champions and record holders.
“I was really, really lucky and I am feeling blessed to be a part of it. We saw... these meets have been some of the fastest meets in the world and some of the fastest meets I have been to. So, really grateful in a year like this to be able to be a part of it,” Carter said.
Carter pointed out how really impressed he was with the level of racing in Hungary as athletes took an enforced step back in their training loads due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but were still able to produce several World, European and National records.
“I was in heat with Caeleb Dressel when he broke the (men’s) 50m freestyle world record right next to me. The 100m backstroke world record went down last night (Saturday night) as well and countless others,” the Lima 2019 Pan American Games bronze medallist said, adding that living among the best and racing them, left him in a better position at this time compared to last year,
”All in all it was a phenomenal experience being able to learn and race these guys. It’s the best in the world, the elite of the sport and it has been a great experience to not only race them once but on a continuous basis,” he noted.
Carter said he was especially content about his two swims in the Finale (4th in 100m back, 5th in 50m free) against world class fields and is now looking ahead to some recovery and recuperation before focusing on Tokyo 2020.
“First of all, I am immediately looking forward to a bit of rest; a few weeks of rest because it has been a little bit exhausting out here to be on top of your game for that long a time,” Carter assessed. “So I think all of us out here are just looking forward to getting back home for a bit of rest the month of December, then getting back to work in the new year.”