Sea swim offers $100k

Some of the world’s fastest swimmers will be here next month to compete in the Flowers Sea Swim for prizes worth over US$100,000.

It’s on June 20 and random prizes include Cayman Airways airline tickets, trips to Australia, Las Vegas, the UK, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto, Red Sail vouchers, Digicel Blackberrys and cell phones.

There is also US$25,000 on offer for breaking the world record for the one mile swim from the Ritz-Carlton to the Gecko Beach Bar.

With the calibre of swimmers competing the course record is definitely expected to go along with the US$5,000 prize.

The course record could go to Cayman’s Olympic swimming brothers Shaune and Brett Fraser who will compete alongside the likes of Ryan Lochte, Anthony Nesty and Rada Owen.

These elite swimmers get their air fares and accommodation paid but no appearance money.

Lochte is one of thefastest swimmers in the world behind Michael Phelps. Lochte is a multiple world record holder and 2004 Olympic gold medallist.

Nesty won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics and is now a coach to the elite swimmers at the University of Florida where the Fraser brothers are students. Owen competed at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Flowers Sea Swim organiser Dara Flowers-Burke said: ‘We have an awesome amount of Olympic swimmers coming over and even Dave Kelsheimer is coming from Australia with around 20 swimmers. He’s bringing some world renowned long distance swimmers.

‘Jim Fraser, Shaune and Brett’s dad, has been very instrumental in getting these top swimmers over.

‘We’ve also got some master swimmers, people who were world class in the past and are still good. Rada Owen is bringing 20 again from California. Last year around 650 registered and over 700 are expected this time.

‘We’ve started such a following with people coming regularly and booking their holidays around it. People in January were calling me to find out the date.’

The charity benefitting from this swim is the Sunrise Adult Training Centre which helps adults with learning disabilities. Last year over $20,000 was raised for the designated charity Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This event is organised in conjunction with the Department of Tourism as invaluable tourist dollars boost the economy here. Last year there were around 70 overseas swimmers but because of the extra prize money they expect well over 100 this time.

Many bring their partners and offspring so the numbers are significantly swelled.

Few top swimmers came last year because all their training was geared towards competing in the Beijing Olympics. This time round they are preparing for the world championships in Rome in July.

‘My father, Frank, is the driving force behind this,’ added Mrs. Flowers-Burke. ‘This is such a special project for him and he’s the type of person who is super enthused. This is the seventeenth year of the swim and if started off really small, about 60 people.

‘He merged two existing swims into one and decided to give prizes away to attract more swimmers. That was the genesis of it. And every year he’s just grown it. Now a lot of athletes are actually contacting us.

‘I think once you come once, the island is so amazing, the people so friendly and there’s so much fun that people just keep coming back.