SOCI preps to make waves again

Special Olympics Cayman Islands intends to further develop its swimming prowess. 

The group hopes to hold its second annual open water swimming training clinic. As SOCI board member Maxine Everson states, the goal is to keep aquatics at the forefront. 

“Our events for the first half of the year are the May open water training clinic and the 600-metre Butterfield Swim competition,” Everson said. “Expected are delegates from Canada, Caribbean, Special Olympics Latin America and the US. June will see the National Games and Week of Awareness. 

“We’ll be twinning with other countries to have basketball and bocce competitions when available,” she added. “But, of course, we always have training weekly in athletics, aquatics, basketball and bocce.” 

Last year’s clinic in Grand Cayman, which had support from the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association, was the first of its kind under Special Olympics International mandates. Participants engaged in a seminar at Governor’s Square and a pool session at the Lions Aquatic Centre before competing in the Butterfield 800 metre open water swim. 

Representing the international body was Kester Edwards, a Tobago native who is the Special Olympics International sports and competition specialist. A former Special Olympian, Edwards coordinates leadership development and education internationally. Edwards played an integral role in open water swimming being featured at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Cayman’s Andrew Smilley made history by winning the 1,500 metre event.  

Smilley would go on to claim gold in the 800 metre freestyle at the first Special Olympics World Aquatics Invitational in San Juan, Puerto Rico last September. Kanza Bodden also took part in the 100 metre free and 100 metre backstroke. 

Everson said Smilley is getting major support from SOCI for overseas events. 

“Andrew, a Special Olympics athlete, is a member of the Stingray Swim Club and he would be going to the Walter Johnson Aquatics Meet in Kingston, Jamaica in February,” she said. “SOCI’s elite athletes expenses for some of these ‘regular’ overseas meets are paid by us as a means of further enhancing the athlete’s competitive experience.” 

Smilley and Bodden took part in the 2012 open water clinic along with two other locals in Hamish Wood and Alec Cox from Cayman Brac. Athletes and coaches from Jamaica, Barbados, Curacao and Virginia 
(in the United States) were also present.  

All were taught mainly by international swimming figure Steve Munatones. A frequent visitor to Cayman, Munatones serves as a consultant/technical adviser for Special Olympics International. The Los Angeles resident demonstrated his Pool Open Water concept to participants and spoke about 
its importance.