Flowers Sea Swim

Get your goggles on, Cayman, here comes the biggest sea swim of them all.

This year’s edition of the popular Flowers One Mile Sea Swim is set for 17 June. The course runs along Seven Mile Beach, starting at the beach adjacent to the Ritz Carlton and finishing at Courtyard Marriott (just beyond Public Beach). The race will benefit the Cayman Islands chapter of Habitat for Humanity, specifically focusing on the building of a new house for a single mother of two in West Bay. All funds raised by the swim will go toward the project. Additionally, Flowers Block Factory has pledged to donate all the concrete blocks needed for construction.

Some $100,000 worth of random prizes will be awarded to finishers, including 40 Cayman Airways Tickets and Digicel phones.

Now in its 14th year, the sea swim is the creation of Caymanian businessman Frank Flowers (Flowers Block Factory, Flowers Bottled Water). With one foot in the grave and the other tripping over junk food, Flowers faced a fork in the road. He was 290 pounds, suffering from asthma and his doctor told him he wouldn’t be around for very long without making big changes.

Flowers chose life and embarked on a running career. Although he shed the flub on Cayman’s roads, his knees paid for it, forcing a transition from running to swimming. This too was a significant step as Flowers had to learn to swim at age 30. He managed it, however, and quickly transformed himself into a credible endurance swimmer. He even won a trophy in his first sea swim.

‘I’m so proud of my father,’ said Dara Flowers, the lead organizer of this year’s Flowers Sea Swim. ‘He puts all his passion into everything he does and he did the same with fitness. He became obsessed with fitness and wanted others to get into it. He really believed that if he could do it, anyone else could do it too. That’s why he started the Flowers Sea Swim. He’s great; I’m really proud of what he’s done.’

Although it sounds like the stuff of Olympians, Dara says virtually anyone can finish the one-mile course. The cutoff time to earn finisher status is 75 minutes, plenty for any sea-soaked slug to make it in, she says.

‘It’s not as hard as it sounds,’ she said. ‘Just go at your own pace and you will make it. Go easy. Just have fun. Dog paddle, backstroke, chat to a friend next to you, and it will surprise you how well you will do.’

Still not convinced? Dara confesses that she never trains for the big one miler but manages to finish her Dad’s race ever year with no problem.

Swimmers must register by Friday, 16 June. There will be no race-day registration. The process can be done online or any time at the Flowers Block office (Industrial Park). Last-chance registration will be 16 June at the Brasserie (Cricket Square) from noon-2pm and at the Courtyard Marriott (Seven Mile Beach) from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

The 2006 Flowers One Mile Sea Swim is sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association.

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