For the sport of swimming.
For the legacy of Caymanian Athletics.
It was a historical day across the pond and in the pool.
And I was there.
7am GMT, began the long journey for the outskirts of Stratford towards the newly built Olympic Park, host of the 2012 London Games. From bus, tube and car, millions pour in to witness the shining feat of the world’s greatest physical achievements – and on this day, a pair of Caymanians glistened among them.
For the first time in our Island’s history, not one, but TWO of our athletes advanced to a semi-final round in an Olympic Swimming Competition. To further add to what can now be labelled a benchmark of Caymanian sport, the two athletes are brothers.
Outside a Starbucks near the Aquatic Center, half-dozen members of “Team Dwyer”, identifiable by matching T-shirts, surrounded Miss Laurice Fraser, who accepted their adoration with her trademark savoir fare.
“Hey this is their mother. I can’t believe it; both boys!” a woman exclaimed, to which Miss Fraser, who was en route to find her sons, quickly returned a compliment before rushing off poolside. For the record, “Team Dwyer” are the friends and family of Olympian Conor Dwyer, who less than half an hour after the Fraser boys’ swimming feat was part of the relay team that propelled Michael Phelps into the Olympic Hall of Fame with his 19th Gold Medal.
I was merely a spectator, accompanying my girlfriend who is in town producing the feature film Fast and Furious 6 (yes, they’re making a 6th one) – she received my text that Jim Fraser had generously arranged for two tickets and subsequently partook in her own car chase across town to share in the moment. It was important to note that not only was this a special day for swimming, but for the country that we love. Over the years, seeing Brett and Shaune compete in the Flowers Sea Swim has been a source of great pride to our family. Their father, Jim Fraser, has quietly embedded them with the best of his nature and nurture in pushing them, along with the sport of swimming in Cayman, to new heights. Today was the culmination of two parent’s dreams combined with many early mornings and tireless afternoons for their sons. While others partied hard in college, the Fraser brothers sacrificed to balance academics and athleticism.
Today that sacrifice should be recognised.
There is dead silence as the brothers take the starting blocks, along with six other athletes from countries with immeasurable resources and some a thousand times the population of beloved isle Cayman. And though The Fraser brothers have also trained in Florida with Coach Anthony Nesty, practicing alongside Ryan Lochte and America’s best swimmers, they can now be counted among those titans. The only reference I could equivocate from my business was being nominated for an Oscar – to put it plainly; of all the competitive swimmers on the planet that compete for the 100m freestyle, Shaune and Brett Fraser are considered in the top 16, of the entire planet – a milestone that I hope is celebrated locally with the same fervour that roared through that Olympic stadium on Tuesday evening.
As the boys swam their personal bests, Brett came closest with a time of 48.38 – missing final qualifications by just over half a second. For the Cayman Islands Olympic contingency, rallying from the sidelanes of history, it will no doubt be remembered as the longest half second of their lives. When the brothers left the pool with their heads held high, I could not help but think of the most amazing part of their accomplishment; that after this inspiring display of emotional and physical endurance, the Fraser Boys still have two more events to go.
Frank E Flowers Jr.