Olympians want to come back

The Splash, Dash and Dine 2013 is being heralded as a tremendous success by the organisers, the Cayman Islands Amateurs Swimming Association.

Olympic swimmers Liam Tancock (Great Britain), Caitlin McClatchey (Great Britain) and Conor Dwyer (USA) were in Grand Cayman from 10-13 January putting on clinics, leading sea swims and taking part in a fund raising brunch.

The swimming association is a volunteer, not for profit association dedicated to furthering the interests of all aquatic sports in the Cayman Islands.

Funds raised are used for educational and technical training of officials, coaches and senior and elite swimmers, for the Junior Cayman Islands CARIFTA Swimming Team; for the popular Sea Swim Series and for the development of the sport throughout the Islands.

The Splash saw the clinics capped to 30 swimmers per session to ensure that participants had a quality experience where they were able to listen and learn.

The 12 and over swimmers attended first and were hosted at the Camana Bay Aquatic Club pool, while the Under 12s attended the Lions Aquatic Centre.

At each session the Olympians gave a motivational speech followed by a question and answers session and opportunity to appreciate the Olympians medals.

Then they all got into the pool and took part in skills sessions. One of the stand out moments was watching Liam Tancock, 50 metres world record holder, demonstrate his backstroke start and then seeing Cayman’s youngsters work on changing their own starts.

The Dash was sponsored by Martin Bures’s company Care Pharmacy. Two sea swims just off world famous Seven Mile Beach saw Tancock taking part in his first ever open water swim.

Thoroughly spoiled by the experience he admitted he might not do another one until he is back in Cayman.

To encourage swimmers of all ages and abilities to take part in the sea swims, there were two distances, of 200m and a 400m.

Tancock won the 200m distance in 2 minutes 15 seconds while Dwyer – having heard of local swimmer Alex McCallum’s win over Olympic gold medal 10K winner Oussama Mellouli in the Pirates Week 5K – went out fast over the first 50m and then held his lead to the Finish Line, crossing in 04:20.

McCallum was second and Caitlin McClatchey third. Veteran sea swimmer Governor Duncan Taylor also got involved and was delighted to be a part of this historic event.

The ravenous swimmers were fed post-race with healthy sandwiches donated by CIASA sponsor Subway and were also treated to ice cream donated by Island Opportunities. Participants also had the opportunity for photos on the beach with the visiting Olympians.

The Dine brunch at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort had a silent and live auction, a raffle and great food.

CIASA directors Brenda McGrath and Dr. Sook Yin, community volunteer extraordinaire Sarah MacKay and all members of the fund raising committee organised a fantastic event.

Master of Ceremonies Ian Armiger kept the programme moving along in a timely manner and auctioneer Jay Ehrhart, appropriately dressed in a tuxedo, with swim shorts and sandals, took charge of the live auction.

The highest item to go in the live auction was an Olympic comforter/bedspread from London 20122, signed by the Cayman Islands Olympic team and then the three visiting Olympians signed it as well. It fetched $1,050.

There were a number of other great items in both auctions including signed Olympic attire, swim caps signed by US and UK swimmers, an autographed Olympic Experiences Book, gift certificates for local restaurants, water sports activities and stores and Pan Am Games memorabilia autographed by Shaune and Brett Fraser.

The brunch was attended by Cayman’s swimming community and reps of swimming’s major sponsors; Governor Duncan Taylor and the Minister of Sports, Mark Scotland and Maples and Calder Partner Mark Matthews.

And at the end of the four days there were winners all round. CIASA raised over $10,000, the Cayman Islands has three new Olympic fans and the Cayman swimming

family enjoyed four days of Olympic storytelling, swimming tips and techniques, camaraderie and family.