Visiting stars will add prestige

Swimming in the Cayman Islands will soon get its annual boost from the Flowers Sea Swim.

Not only is it the world’s richest open water swim but it routinely attracts visitors and top athletes from around the world.

This year’s lineup is no different, with the likes of Gary Hall Junior and Senior, Chris and Penny Palfrey and Rada Owen making their way to these shores.

Frank Flowers organises the swim, which is in its 20th year, alongside his daughter, Dara Flowers-Burke. He says the presence of major swim names benefits Cayman on a national level.

“We just need the community to continue supporting us as they’ve always done and we can make magic happen,” Flowers said.

“The people who hadn’t heard about Cayman before, they heard it then through the Palfreys.

“Penny was talking about her mum living in a little place in Portugal. When she did the record all of a sudden it was on the front page.

It’s the awareness it brought to the Cayman Islands.

It’s going to make a big difference for the future.”

Aside from the Halls, Palfreys and Owen, the confirmed list of top swimmers features Codie Grimsey, Ian Crocker, BJ Bedford, Janelle Atkinson-Wignall, Steve Munatones and Cayman’s own Heather Roffey.

Most have a link to the Olympics, having competed on that stage in the past.

It is no coincidence all are being brought in with the London 2012 Olympics just weeks away.

The Flowers swim, which takes place this Saturday, 9 June, will have a major Olympic theme. Flowers-Burke spoke about some of the sights in store.

“The whole event is Olympic themed, red white and blue,” Flowers-Burke said. “We have 14 special elites coming for this year’s race, including the Halls and the Palfreys.

“The worldwide response shows that it is one of the best in the world, which we continue to be extremely proud of. Everyone is super excited to be a part of this year’s 20th anniversary race.

The swim promises to be bigger and better than ever.”

For the record, Saturday’s race is expected to start at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman from 2.30pm and finishes either at Royal Palms or Tiki Beach Bar (depending on the ocean currents).

It is a one-mile open water swim that is open to the public. The Walk and Watch programme is back for 2012, allowing non-swimmers to follow the action.

Last year’s race boasted more than 800 competitors who varied in ages between 8 and 80.

For 2012, more than $100,000 in cash and prizes are on offer. The chances of winning have increased to guarantee 1-in-4 random prize odds for finishers.

Giveaways include BlackBerrys, hotel stays and more than 40 round trip airline tickets to 20 premier destinations such as Miami, New York, Panama, Rome, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, London, Dublin, Rio De Janerio and Toronto. In addition to the random prizes, all finishers receive a fantastic T-shirt and goody bag filled with prizes.

All registration proceeds will be donated to the Feed Our Future Cayman charity, which provides healthy meals to needy school children.

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