The LIME Sea Swim had it all – perfect conditions, enthusiastic swimmers, great rivalries with a close finish, flawless organisation, local heroes returned from abroad. There was even a bride and bridegroom.
The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association volunteers and other safety support crews teamwork pulled together another safe, smooth event that saw 109 competitors, ages 7 to nearly 70, from Governor’s Beach to Public Beach on 13 April.
Everyone finished OK, including the final youngster, Ben Stainrod, who was nine minutes before the standard 40-minute safety cut off time.
Lara and Geoffrey Butler and Matthew Courtis, back from school in the UK, provided challenges and drama to their old colleagues.
Unfortunately, all those swimming didn’t get to see the exciting, close finish.
A three-way race for most of the half mile, between Alex McCallum, Geoff Butler and Matthew Courtis, saw a furious sprint to the finish.
Courtis is recovering from a knee injury, preventing him from bringing in enough kick on the final approach.
Butler and McCallum were full steam, stroke for stroke to a fingertip finish, which stretched the finish judge.
Andrew Smilley was the first non-teenager, while Danielle Boothe was the first female.
Coral Tomascik and Lara Butler produced more excitement until Tomascik managed to just out reach Butler.
Increased participation of the younger set also showed strong performances. There were 35 youngsters age 12 and under, due in part to the recent Camana Bay Aquatic Club build up series.
Stephanie Royston’s developing prowess has father Adrien back swimming, rather than working the event, while he can still finish before her.
“It won’t be long now, she’s getting pretty quick,” he said.
Usual high spirits were evident after the race, but Larry Walters seemed especially happy. Earlier in the day, he and the lovely Debra Illes exchanged vows on the beach, in the very spot they had met.
A cheeky announcer shared it with the crowd, creating a cloud of well wishes.
LIME representative Danny Tathum handed out awards to the first three finishers in each age group. Cheers rose when hardworking Danielle Boothe won the random prize of an iPhone 5.
Ben Titley, Great Britain Olympic coach and current head coach of Swim Canada’s Performance Centre in Toronto, said he enjoyed the event.
“This is a great opportunity for swimmers to participate in sea swimming in idyllic conditions,” he said. “It could prove the ideal venue for Swim Canada’s Open Water Camps – perfect all year round conditions in a safe and friendly environment.”
The healthy crowd was full of congratulations for the young athletes who recently returned from CARIFTA competition in Jamaica.
Many personal best times helped them earn 14 medals including two in a new 5K open water event.
The open water venue was several hours away in St. Anne and described by many as good. “But Cayman’s, especially here along Seven Mile Beach, are lots better,” declared an appreciative Katie Klein, one of the 5K competitors.
Next on the Open Water Calendar is the Butterfield 800m Swim on 25 May. Special Olympics Cayman Islands will again be hosting an open water training clinic.
There will be 36 Special Olympics athletes and coaches coming from the Caribbean, as well as Latin America and North America.
Special Olympics International wants to offer the opportunity to even more countries for Cayman’s user-friendly open water conditions and expertise, as part of its three-year plan to prepare swimmers for their next World Games in Los Angeles.
Online registration is already open for the Flowers Sea Swim on 15 June, with the usual limit of 800 swimmers.
The Flowers Group has added 5K and 10K races on Monday, 17 June, due to many requests by international swimmers for those standard competitive distances.