Bradley Ally struck gold at the Southeastern (SEC) Championships for the University of Florida at the University of Alabama pool when he took the 200 yard individual medley. Ally a medley specialist who is the Barbados national record holder ,CAC Champion and reigning Pan –American bronze medalist in the event did not have it all his way in the finals as he was given all he could handle by teammate and Cayman Islands swimmer Shaune Fraser.
Fraser himself a medley swimmer and reigning Pan-American silver medalist in the 200 metre freestyle would provide tough opposition. On the first stroke butterfly it was Fraser over Ally 22.92 (26.41LCM long course metres) to 22.97(26.46). At the halfway mark Bradley made a move to take the lead and out split his younger rival on the backstroke 26.15(31.32) to 26.54(31.78) and the two Florida “Gators” had by now separated themselves from the field. Ally won the duel on the breastroke clocking 29.96(35.00) to Shaune’s 30.45 (35.57). That breastroke leg proved to be decisive. Like the Thriller in Manila Oct 1,1975 where a slightly more famous Ali(Muhammed) would beat Frazier (Joe) The thriller in Alabama Feb 21,2008 would have Ally holding onto to defeat Fraser 1:44.45 (2:01.88) to 1:44.96(2:02.47).
Also like the boxers it avenged Ally’s first loss to Fraser in SEC championship when they clashed for the first time in 2007 where Fraser edged out Ally by one hundredth of a second for the silver medal. The win marked for Ally a pool record, breaking fellow Gator Duncan Sherrard’s 2001 time of 1:45.38, a NCAA automatic qualifying time and a nation leading time. Fraser also notched an automatic qualifying time in the event. These were Ally’s thoughts on the win as taken from the SEC website
“It’s a great feeling to come here and all and keep the winning streak. For the Gators, Ryan had it and now I have it. Hopefully we’ll pass it on and keep it going like that. It’s a great accomplishment and I’m happy.”
The SEC’s held from the Feb 20 -23, 2008 also saw Ally in action in the 400 yard individual medley where he looked for his fourth career title having won the event last year. But it was not to be as he could not resist the challenge of teammate Clark Burckle 3:45.00 and Georgia’s Sebastien Rouault 3:45.56(as he took the bronze in 346.00 (4:21.27). Burckle would again take another of Ally’s 2007 crowns this time in the 200 yard breastroke as he stroked his way to 1:56.00 (2:15.20) while Ally lost the decision on a podium spot to Auburn’s Brad Craig 1:57.18 (2:16.57) to 1:57.20(2:16.60). Ally would also place fourth in the 200 freestyle relay where his third leg 19.70 (22.91) pushed the Gators to 1:19.22
Fraser came away from the Championships with a chest full of medals. Fraser repeated as SEC champion in the 200yard freestyle breaking the pool record and his personal best to record 1:34.29 (1:49.01) and the fifth fastest time in University of Florida history. Fraser who was third at the 50 and second at the 100 and 150 mark unleashed a 23.97(27.85) to take the victory where the first four places were decided by .21 of a second. This is what he had to say about the win as seen on the SEC website.
“I just wanted to go out there and race. That has been our main goal for the season. To win is always a plus so I was pretty happy with that time.”
The 200 butterfly saw Fraser losing his 2007 crown as well as he went from first to third clocking 1:44.38 (2:00.53) bettering his 2007 time but not enough to top Georgia’s Mark Dyalla who clocked 1:42.23 (1:58.05). He snapped up a bronze in the 200 yard medley relay clocking 20.84 (24.01) on the butterfly to help to 1:26.80. In the 800 freestyle relay his third leg time of 1:34.37 (1:49.10) to boost the Gators to the silver in an NCAA automatic qualifying time 6:22.84. His butterfly exploits extended to the 400 yard medley where he clocked 46.26 (53.29) to gain another bronze in an NCAA automatic time of 3:10.80. His final medal of the meet came in the 400 freestyle relay where he clocked 42.97(49.79) for bronze in 2:54.34.
Also making finals at the Championships was Auburn’s Bahamian sprint star Alana Dillette who made B finals in the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle. In the backstroke she used her characteristic quick start 26.34 (30.88) to win in an NCAA consideration time of 54.76 (1:04.20). She was sixth in the 100 fly improving upon her heats time to clock in another NCAA consideration time of 54.58 (1:02.23). In the 50 free she clocked 23.09 under the NCAA consideration time of 23.43.
Other former CARIFTA stars competing were Cayman Islands Heather Roffey representing the University of South Carolina and Bahamas Elvis Burrows competing for the University of Kentucky. Roffey placed 22nd in the 500 freestyle in 4:57.00 (4:27.09) 35th in the 200 freestyle 1:53.59 (2:09.97) and 27th in the 200 butterfly 2:06.99(2:24.14). Burrows scorecard read 50 free 23rd 20.55 (23.90), 100 butterfly 23rd 49.48 (57.00) and 100 freestyle 24th 45.55(52.78).
University of Florida Men finished second with 712 points, University of Kentucky men were fifth with 345 points. South Carolina women were 9th with 199 points. Auburn topped both men and women’s section with 806 and 716.5 points respectively.