Two open water swimmers set a new record crossing the channel between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Saturday.
Lexie Kelly and Steve Munatones swam the five-mile channel, known as the Bogue, in one hour and 53 minutes.
The previous record was set by Jeff Miller in 1987 when he crossed, over a slightly longer route, in two hours and 36 minutes.
The two swimmers from California were aiming to set a new record, which they anticipate will be broken by Australian marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey as part of her Bridging the Cayman Islands attempt to swim from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman in June.
Kelly, who is working with the Flowers Group to help organise the annual Flowers Sea Swim, said the swim across the channel went smoothly.
“It was amazing. It was an ideal place to swim. The water was crystal clear. There was a great support team and Frank Flowers has been very supportive as well. It’s been very exciting,” she said, once she was back on dry land.
“Towards the end, when we hit the reef, it got a bit tougher,” she admitted, but she and Munatones, who will be on the support team during Palfrey’s swim, made record time nonetheless.
The swimmers were accompanied by kayaker Richard Clifford, from New York, who will also kayak alongside Palfrey when she attempts her 68-mile crossing on 9 June which could take up to 40 hours.
Marine police and Department of Environment boats also escorted the swimmers on the channel crossing. “Now we have an idea of what Penny can expect from the currents,” said Kelly. The swimmers had earlier checked with local marine expects on the types of currents and prevailing winds to expect, as well as the chances of encountering any sea life that might threaten their crossing, such as jellyfish or sharks.
“Steve and I didn’t really see any marine life to worry about, so that’s a good thing,” said Kelly.
Two previous attempts by Palfrey to set an inter-island swimming record in Hawaii were scuppered when she was stung by Portuguese Man O’ War jellyfish.
About six hours after they completed their crossing between the two Sister Islands, the trio were back in the water again when Munatones, Kelly and Clifford all took part in the 800-metre swim on the Brac.