The 20th Annual Flowers Sea Swim is being held on 9 June between The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Royal Palms. What began as a race with just more than 100 competitors has swelled into an internationally famous event with 800 participants taking to the water. Every year it raises funds for local charities, and people fly in from all over the world to register and swim the mile, sharing the waves with medal-winning Olympians.
The sea swim has certainly featured its share of interesting characters. Last year, one of the guests of honour was Penny Palfrey, an Australian woman known for her long distance open water swimming accomplishments. She had managed to successfully swim between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman, thus setting a new world record only a few days prior to the Flowers event. She is returning to the Cayman Islands for the sea swim this year, and is training for her next challenge: swimming from Cuba to Key West.
Among the other competitors flying in from overseas this year is a rather unconventional swimmer by the name of Cerizzi Paolo Eros, otherwise known as “Dolphinman” in his home country of Italy. Not content to swim as others do, he throws an interesting impediment into the mix; he wears handcuffs when he’s in the water.
Mr. Eros was born in 1974, and although he learned to swim at a relatively young age, he didn’t really indulge in it until 2005 at age 31. He joined the Team Lombardia swim team where the coach told him that his strength was his butterfly stroke, and even though he took a break from swimming about a year later, he rejoined the team in earnest in May 2009.
During the next couple of years he began to set himself distance goals for solo swims. In July 2010, he crossed Lake Maggiore, the second largest lake in Italy using only the butterfly stroke. It was just more than 1 1/2 miles, an impressive feat for the butterfly.
At a swimming event in the city of Aquila on 6 March, 2011, he continuously swam the butterfly stroke for nearly two miles in a pool. It took him a little more than one hour.
It was later that year, on 23 September, that Mr. Eros first attempted a significant swim wearing handcuffs in the hope of breaking the world record. He crossed the famous Strait of Messina between Sicily and Calabria, almost two miles in the open water, with his wrists cuffed. It was a remarkable accomplishment that caught the attention of local and international media, and it spurred him to consider his next challenge. It was at this point that he turned his head toward the Cayman Islands.
Anyone attending the Flowers Sea Swim in a week’s time is going to witness Dolphinman attempting to swim one mile with both his hands and his ankles cuffed. If he can manage to do it, he should find himself in the record books once again. For some people, swimming a mile unfettered is difficult enough. The idea of restraining their hands and feet would be unthinkable.
Of course all safety precautions will be in place, but if Mr. Eros can finish successfully, it seems there will be no denying that Dolphinman is part porpoise.