by RENALDO DORSETT
One of the most decorated junior swimmers in Bahamian history will now make the transition to the senior level as she embarks on her collegiate career.
Grand Bahamian native Joanna Evans recently made a verbal commitment to the University of Texas Longhorns, with plans to enroll at the Austin for the 2015-16 season.
The versatile Evans made her mark predominately as a distance freestlyer and has excelled at every level of competition thus far in her young career.
Most recently, Evans won the country’s first medal in Youth Olympic Games history.
At the event hosted back in August in Nanjing, China, Evans was the bronze medalist in the 800m free in a time of 8:39.75s.
She lowered her previous national record of 8:41.39s that she set at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
She went into the meet with a seed time of 8:57s from Charlotte Grand Prix in February.
In the 400m free, Evans dropped more than five seconds to finish fifth with 4:12.14s.
She was only 9/10 behind gold medalist Hannah Moore of the USA and 2.9s ahead of the sixth-place finisher.
In the NCAA, Evans will have to adjust to swimming a short course programme, but it is expected that she is capable of swimming below 4:45s in the 500m free and sub 16:00s in the mile.
She she provide a welcome addition to the Longhorns whose top three distance swimmers head into their senior years this season.
Evans had an eventful summer, filled with medals and record breaking performances.
The run for her began in April where she was one of the leading athletes to propel the Bahamas to its first ever Carifta Swimming Championships.
Evans dominated the Girls 15-17 division with a total of 70 points, 39 points ahead of her closest competitor.
Evans won gold in the 50m Freestyle (27.01s), 100m Freestyle (58.51s), 200m Freestyle (2:05.52s), 400m Freestyle (4:28.67s), 200m IM (2:25.61s), 400m IM (4:14.46s) and took silver in 200m Backstroke (2:28.15s). She also added a gold medal in the 5k Open Water swim in 1:14.34s.
Less than a month later she would go on to lower the records in the 800m and 400m free. The previous times were 9:10.50 in the 800 set in June, 2007 and 4:32.97 in the 400 set in March, 2008 and both were held by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace.
Her performances earned her berths to the Commonwealth Games and the aforementioned Youth Olympic Games.
Evans was recently named one of six members named to the swim team for the Central American and Caribbean Games held November 14-30 in Veracruz, Mexico.
Immediately following the CAC Games, Evans will travel to Doha, Qatar, where she will close out the international circuit as they compete in the 12th FINA Short Course World Championships slated for December 3-7.