Time to celebrate a watery century

Cayman’s growing reputation for staging great open water swims gets another boost tomorrow.


Sea swimming is increasing in Cayman. Photo: Submitted

The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association will be marking the 100th Anniversary of FINA, the International Swimming Federation at Public Beach.

The CIASA has represented the Cayman Islands as a member federation in FINA since its formation in 1985.

As part of its celebrations to recognize its Centenary Year, the members of the FINA Bureau are addressing the serious demand for the protection of water and the environment facing the world today with the message Water is Our World.

In 1908 the Olympic Games were held in London. There the delegates of eight countries decided to establish FINA, the quality, scarcity and the protection of water was not on the agenda.

But a century on, as part of its centenary celebrations, FINA is heavily involved in the preservation of the environment and the protection of water, an essential natural commodity.

A FINA spokesman said: ‘Water is a source of life, and for all water sports enthusiasts, water is a source of pleasure. Around the world, pollution, climate change and unsustainable human demand are putting the quantity and quality of water, a natural and essential element, in peril.

‘There are many causes for this, including rapid growth of the world’s population, urbanisation, industrialization, expanding technology, deforestation, intensive farming, and many more.

‘All water sports enthusiasts should be forward-looking in the ecological battle for the preservation of nature.

‘Responding to this situation is no longer a question of political opinion, but a vital necessity for our future on earth.’

Cayman association’s Board of Directors ask that tomorrow all residents of the Cayman Islands reflect on how blessed they are to have such a wonderful water environment in which to recreate, and to support FINA’s message of Water is our World.

Bill McFarland is an open water swimming organiser and CIASA Vice-President.

He said: ‘It is easy to take the excellent open-water swimming conditions that we have here for granted.

‘We recently held a 5 kilometre swim off Seven Mile beach for a group of visiting swimmers from Australia, who had never swam in such crystal clear and warm waters.

‘The kids told me that they couldn’t see two feet in the ocean off Melbourne where they live, and had not done any open water swimming because of that.

‘During the race, two eagle rays and a stingray were in the area; the swim-kids thought seeing those graceful sea-creatures while they were racing was really cool.

‘Our local swim-enthusiasts get to experience such things whenever they enter the water for a swim.’

Swim conditions in the Cayman Islands have thankfully not changed much since the Lions Club hosted inter-school swim-meets off the Public Beach back in the mid-1970s, and today, CIASA hosts a series of Open Water races from the 800m distance through to ten kilometres.

CIASA’s President, Peter Mackay, said: ‘Open water swimming is growing in popularity around the world.

‘The Beijing Olympics will host the first Marathon Swimming competition in Olympic history with a ten-kilometre event in a man-made reservoir.

‘With the natural swim-conditions that we have here in the Cayman Islands and with government and local business support, there is no reason why we cannot host a FINA Open Water swim championship here in the near future. Water is truly our world, and our future.’