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Primary swim champs trophy to be named in Hilton's honour

Elton Tucker, Assistant Editor - Sport

The primary schools' champion trophy at this year's Prep/Primary Swimming championships will be called the Matthew Hilton Trophy, in honour of the 18-year-old national age group and junior swimmer, who collapsed and died at training on September 11.

Glowing tributes were paid to the outstanding young swimmer and Ardenne High graduate, at his thanksgiving service which was attended by hundreds of mourners, who packed the school's auditorium yesterday afternoon.

In addition to family members, the mourners included Ardenne High students in uniform, swimmers from the Y Speedos Swim Club and executive members of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ).

Beacon of light

ASAJ president John Eyre, who announced the renaming of the primary schools' championship trophy, described Hilton as a 'beacon of light', who made history in 2002 at age 12 when he became the first primary school swimmer to be selected to a national age group swimming squad.

"This was the beginning of a very successful swimming career. Matthew became known as one of the top Caribbean breaststroke swimmers, winning several medals at the Carifta Swimming Championships," Eyre said.

Last year was Hilton's most successful as he won the 15-17 100 metres breaststroke and was second in the 200m breaststroke. His last medal for Jamaica was the medley relay bronze he won at the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships, held in Jamaica just two months ago.

At the time of his death Hilton, who started his swimming career at Excelsior Primary with coach Prince Easton, was preparing to represent the island at the Youth Commonwealth Games which will be held in India next month.

Barbara Briggs, a former secretary of 'Y' Speedos, the swim club Hilton joined as a 'lanky string bean boy' at age 10 in 2001, said the six-foot three inches swimmer was a true role model for all to emulate.

"He was appointed the club captain and was respected and adored by his fellow swimmers - especially the younger ones. Matthew always had time for them and could be seen walking down the pool deck surrounded by youngsters," Briggs said.

The officiating ministers at yesterday's service were Pastor Derek Bignall, executive secretary of the West Indies Union, Rev. Lenworth Anglin, executive chairman, Church of God and Rev. Claude Ellis, school chaplain, Ardenne.

Tributes in song and dance were made by Excelsior Primary School, the Vickers Dance Studio and the Ardenne High Drama Club.

The remembrance was delivered by the swimmer's uncle, Joe Hylton. Interment took place at Dovecot Memorial Park yesterday evening.