When it comes to endurance events the annual Zulu 2-mile Sea Swim is one of the most demanding in the Cayman sporting calendar.
Yet 57 turned out on Saturday at Governor’s Beach and all but two finished the gruelling event.
It was won by Seiji Groome, the 15-year-old torpedo with the Courtis brothers Matthew, 13, and Christopher, 11, a close second and third respectively. Fourth was Summer Flowers, 15, who was the first female home on Saturday.
Many of the top 20 finishers were teenagers which augers well for Cayman’s swimming future.
Sponsor Andreas ‘Zulu’ Kettner is pleased to put the Red Bull brand behind the swim.
‘We’re very happy to have had almost 60 people come out and swim,’ he said. ‘This was my third annual swim and I was very happy with that and we’ll continue sponsoring this event for the next year or two.
‘Seiji winning didn’t make it boring because once you reach the top there are younger ones coming up trying to take it away from him. Next year I’m sure we’ll have a different winner.’
It wasn’t just the youngsters getting the glory though. Victor Thompson did it inside one hour and was one of the fastest finishers. He has been on the open water swim scene for a long time.
‘I do this to keep fit,’ he said. ‘I’ve also been competitive for about 25 years. I do just about every swim. I was never really into the pool so I started in the ocean. The pool is too short and I was getting a headache turning so often. I like long distances. I’m 56, man, and still kicking some butt.’
The businessman originally did fun runs but developed a knee problem. He took up swimming to rehabilitate. ‘When I recouped I decided not to chance taking the knee out of place again so I stuck to swimming.’
His next swim is the Pirates Week 5k. Last year he did both 5k and 10k swims but decided to swerve the longer this year because they are only a few days apart.
Thompson and pal Alfred Ebanks have the distinction of being one of few people on the island to boast swimming the length of North Sound – about seven miles – circa 1986.
The charity swim took them four hours and seven minutes and on top of that they ran the four miles to West Bay Town Hall to open Pirates Week.
‘As far as I know, nobody else has swam the North Sound since. The distance is long and now that there are so many sharks there I don’t think people really want to swim up there anymore!
‘I’d have to think twice before I swam up in there again.’
Thompson and Ebanks raised $8,000 and the following year Thompson raised $11,000 by swimming the length of Seven Mile Beach for George Town Hospital so that they could buy a foetal monitor.
He used to do individual triathlons but now sticks to the swim leg of the team version.
Another seasoned veteran of the open water swims is Chris Weaver. He was last but did not have to be hauled in for being too slow. Anyone strong and brave enough to swim two miles in the sea deserves tremendous props.
‘It was just great to be out there, it was a gorgeous day,’ Weaver said.
‘My glory days were many years ago when I used to do triathlons in the early days. That was in the Eighties. I’m a bit of a has-been now, I’m afraid.
‘My kids are a in the swim programme. They’re a little bit young yet, six and four, but I see them as the future of swimming. So I figured I have to get in shape for them for when they come up.
‘It was a bit sad and lonely out there but I had the thought of coming back to a Red Bull which kept me going.’
Safety buoys were everywhere Photos: Ron Shillingford
Zulu and wife Gina did a great job
Groome won, as expected
Red Bull gave everyone wings
Thompson has done sea swim for 25 years
Water was consumed in abundance
The Red Cross team were attentive
Weaver is making a comeback for his kids