Butler steps up in sister’s absence

The first sea swim of the year had
an impressive turnout and it was the usual suspects who commanded the first ten
places.

It was the LIME 800 metres swim,
postponed from three weeks earlier because of choppy waters.

This was the second annual LIME
swim and the company generously gave away a top of the range BlackBerry as one
of its random prizes.

Jellyfish was the scare this time,
but thankfully none of the 149 entrants encountered the pesky creatures.

Still fresh and race sharp from
competing in the CARIFTA Championships the weekend before in Jamaica, the
little torpedoes sped from Governor’s Beach to Public Beach in the blink of an
eye.

They must have been downing their
millionth slice of pizza as the final finishers puffed home.

It was organised by the Cayman
Islands Amateur Swimming Association and surprise winner was Geoffrey Butler,
only 14 but already man-sized.

He won in 9 minutes 53 seconds with
Matthew Courtis second, seven seconds behind.

Then came the customary winner,
Seiji Groome in 10:13 but a family tragedy two months earlier meant he could
not put the training in to defend his title.

Alex McCallum was fourth, fifth was
Josh Bain and the first female home was sixth-placed Coral Tomascik, way ahead
of her dad Vladimir and big sister Brigitte.

Andrew Smilley was seventh, Elliot
Vernon eighth, Amber Myrie ninth and tenth was Simon Butler, Geoff’s little
brother.

It capped a great week for Coral as
she won four medals including two golds at CARIFTA. Butler and Groome got
medals in Jamaica too.

Geoffrey was lucky that big sister
Lara wasn’t competing because on current form she probably would have won.

Lara fell awkwardly at home that
morning and bruised her foot so decided to skip the swim and go straight to the
pizza instead.

Marius Acker was the fastest of the
non-specialist swimmers coming in 11th, one place ahead of Olympic
swimmer Andrew Mackay. 

An 800m swim is equivalent to
running a marathon for some but for Alex Harling and girlfriend Andrea Roach it
amounted to a mere dip.

They famously swam the six miles
across North Sound last month along with Jasper Mikkelsen, Johan Heath, Chris
Rose and Terry Petyt.

Harling also raised the equivalent
of CI$2,200 for Cancer Relief in the UK from that swim and hopes to make
crossing the North Sound an annual event from next year.

Jasper did the LIME 800m with
seven-year-old son Tobias who is obviously being groomed to swim, run and cycle
nutty distances for no good reason like his dad.

Tony ‘Duff Geezer’ Watts made a
guest appearance, as did many of his Wednesday Night Running Club disciples.

The Governor Duncan Taylor and his
wife Marie-Beatrice, keen swimmers themselves, joined in. Mr. Taylor finished a
well placed 32nd and with a bit more training could be scaring the
kids.

He used to do regular sea swims in
Barbados before arriving here and obviously enjoyed flexing his limbs.

Rodger Yeomans made an appearance
but unlike the duathlon two weeks ago, he didn’t wear his Heinz Baked Beans
jersey so was a little out of gas.

Regulars included Frank Flowers who
is limbering up for his Flowers One Mile Swim on 19 June. He was 51st.

He is already excited because word
has spread about the quality of this international event and Olympians and pros
are lined up to assault all records and try to win a chunk of the $100,000-plus
prize money and prizes on offer. No wonder Flowers has already set a cut off
point of 800.

Penny McDowall, swimming coach and
Lighthouse School teacher, brought along Quinton ‘Jay’ Ebanks for his debut in
sea swims. He grumbled a lot before and during the swim but felt so satisfied
from finishing, McDowall is sure she can get him to enter the next one. 

It was nice to see Martha Rivers,
the 11-year-old swimming sensation from Cayman Brac here with her mum Anne
Jackson. Both competed and thoroughly enjoyed it. They will be swimming in the CNB
sponsored 800m in the Brac on Saturday.

Last year only Bill McFarland,
president of the swim association, was fast enough to beat Martha, so ‘Tarzan’
is going to need to call on all his jungle experience of evading crocs and deadly
snakes to beat her this time.

SPORTSswimSTORY

Butler and Courtis were the fastest.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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