Swimmers of all abilities were invited to participate in the 20th Annual CUC 800 metres sea swim on Saturday and they certainly came out in their droves.
It started at Governor’s Beach and finished at Public Beach and in the absence of Seiji Groome there was guaranteed to be a new winner. Only this time it was not a Caymanian, as expected but an American.
Adam Voss, 15, is from Indiana where he is one of the top swimmers in his state and ranked around 89th nationally. No stranger to Cayman, he did the Pirates Week 5k two years ago and was around 15th.
Voss won this race convincingly, in nine minutes and 52 seconds, way ahead of the rest. The Cayman youngsters then finished in a cluster with only a few seconds separating them.
Second was Christopher Courtis (10:32). Third was Joshua Bain (10:33), fourth Summer Flowers in the same time, fifth was Matthew Courtis (10:36), sixth Lara Butler (10:43), seventh Geoffrey Butler (10:44) and Tori Butler came in eighth in 10:45.
A beaming Voss said: ‘I’m down here on vacation with my family. I swim a lot at home and saw that there was a race here today and decided to enter. I felt great and swam well. I had no idea about the opposition and was just trying my hardest and hoped I would win.’ (His dad Peter also swam it.)
Adam said: ‘I was hoping I would get about tenth and feel great. I hope to come back next year. We came down here around 1994 and loved it and have been coming back ever since. We own a condo.
‘Open water swimming is a lot different because I’m used to swimming in a 25 yard pool. It’s actually a lot harder, having to look up and see where you’re going and not being able to stop for an extremely long distance.’
Richard Hew, CUC president and CEO, was impressed with the final event his company has sponsored this year.
He said: ‘We’ve been a long time sponsor of swimming, other sports as well but swimming has been one of them. We like to participate in any sort of youth development.
‘I’m not known as a swimmer but my daughter, Lauren, is good. She’s nine and this was her first swim. I’m very proud of her.
‘From what I see it’s dominated by younger swimmers, aged eight and up. The times have come down tremendously over the years.’
Hew is pleased that through CUC’s sponsorship over the past two decades, open water swimming in Cayman now has international recognition.
‘The swim association is trying to promote it as one of the big events to come in from abroad. The Flowers event as well, they’re trying to get it recognised as an official one for the open water world championships so that would be a significant event for the Cayman Islands.
‘By sponsoring this, every little helps and hopefully we will get to the level of hosting a world championship soon.’
Peter Mackay is president of the Cayman Islands Swimming Association. He said: ‘We’re pleased with the turn out today. It was a little unfortunate that the schools were out but it also meant that the adults could really show their stuff without the young ones all beating them. Next year we’ll move this swim a little earlier so that there are no conflicts.
‘But it was still really good. We did nine this year and it was great to see such a good turn out. It was also great to see the president of CUC here enjoying himself.
‘It was the twentieth time they did it. CUC are a great corporate citizen. We’re very pleased to have such a great commitment from CUC. They provided lovely trophies as well.’
Trophies were awarded for the top three male and female finishers in all age categories and lived up to the reputation that the emphasis for this event is about participation.
Regular veterans who competed included Frankie Flowers, Rodger Yeomans, Larry Walters, Victor Thompson, Tony Watts, Dr Sook Yin and Barb Pedersen. TV presenter James Bebarfald turned out and inspiring dad Chris Weaver too, plus swim coach Dominic Ross.
Swimmers received T-shirts, pizza and refreshments after the race, and a CUC swim-cap which were compulsory for safety reason during the race. Elizabeth Miller got a trophy and her baby daughter Emily immediately snatched it out of her hand!
The swimmers’ next open water chance is the Pirates Week 5k on November 10 and for the really energetic 10k two days later.