Flowers Swim really comes of age

Some of the world’s top open water swimmers, many former Olympic and world champions will be entering the Flowers One Mile Sea Swim next week for its milestone 21st anniversary.

About a dozen of them will be competing but the majority of the 900 entrants are ordinary swimmers and weekend warriors who love the whole experience, built up over the years by organisers Frank Flowers and his daughter Dara Flowers-Burke.

It is not only the world’s richest event of its kind, it is one of the most respected .

On 15 June Cayman’s most celebrated sporting event makes another splash from the beach front at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

Depending on the ocean currents, it finishes either at Royal Palms or Surfside Beach and Restaurant.

Flowers-Burke is incredibly excited for two reasons; it is the 21st staging and she will give birth to her first child a few weeks later.

“The event continues to grow bigger and better,” she said. “We are welcoming 900 which will make it the largest Flowers Sea Swim ever.

“The prizes are also better than ever. I think the major evolution is that we have decided to extend the Flowers Sea Swim week to include more events.

“The swim is certainly the highlight of everything. We welcome participants of all ages and skill sets and is a fun swim that is meant to be completely inclusive.

“We also have the Walk and Watch for non-swimmers who want to support the Flowers One Mile Sea swimmers.

“But before the swim we have the Feed Our Future night time gala at Luca Restaurant on Thursday 13 June and the Flowers Sea Swim luncheon at 12pm on the Friday at Camana Bay which is open to the public.

“These events allow the public to be even more involved in the whole experience and donate to Feed Our Future which is an amazing charity that provides hot healthy lunches to needy school children.

“Monday 17 June we have also added a 5k and 10k swim event for more experienced swimmers and invite more skilled swimmers to participate in these events as well. The info for all these great events is on www.flowersseaswim.com

“I am looking forward to the entire event, but certainly as we add more activities, that gives an even greater opportunity to contribute to Feed Our Future which provides a much needed service to our small community.”

Advanced pregnancy will not stop the mum-to-be from entering. She has trained well for it.

“I’ll be eight months pregnant but am still planning on swimming. I’ve been trying to do a mile every Sunday to make sure I am up to it and so far so good.

“Swimming is great exercise for pregnant women and is a great way to beat the heat. If you’re expecting I wouldn’t recommend any exercise without first consulting with your medical practitioner first. I am certainly not swimming for time, I’ll just go nice and slow and enjoy the course – there may be some doggie paddling involved.”

There are a host of elite swimmers coming over, including Cayman’s own multiple Olympian Shaune Fraser, arriving from Florida. Other local Olympians entering include Heather Roffey and Andrew MacKay.

“The elite swimmers are so excited to participate,” Flowers-Burke said. “We often have repeat swimmers coming year after year, once they experience the idyllic swimming conditions here they are hooked.

“We often forget that we have some on the world’s best conditions in our own back yard.”

She is really appreciative of the backing of the many sponsors. “The sponsors are truly amazing, we have gotten so much support over the years and have continued to receive such incredible support, we are truly grateful. This event would not be possible without them.

“Also, I just want to remind everyone that they need to get registered as soon as possible as spaces for the Flowers Sea Swim are filling up fast.

“Finishers are eligible for over $100,000 in cash and random prizes including over 60 airline tickets to 20 destinations.”

The odds to win a random prize are 1-in-5 and previous giveaways include BlackBerrys, iPads, hotel stays, and dozens of airline tickets to premier destinations such as Miami, New York, Panama, Rome, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, London, Dublin, Rio de Janerio and Toronto.

All finishers receive a T-shirt and goody bag filled with prizes and surprises.

Others elite swimmers lined up include Rebecca Soni, who is a breaststroke specialist and six-time Olympic medallist, Gary Hall Jr. and his father Gary Hall Sr. who have a host of Olympic medals and countless records between them. There will also be top class paralympian Jessica Long and Connor Dwyer, who won gold with the US team in the 4×200 metre freestyle relay team at the 2012 London Olympics.

Megan Jendrick, another Olympic gold medallist is also included, as is Ian Crocker, another multiple Olympic medallist who loves coming here, and Brooke Bennett, who is a three-time Olympic champion. In addition, other former world class competitors and champs Scott Goldblatt, Kristina Kowal, Rada Owen, Joey Pedraza and Luane Rowe are scheduled to attend.

Local coach Darren Mew is a two-time Olympian for Great Britain, who had an 18-year international career winning multiple honours. He also is set to participate. 


All registration proceeds are donated to the Feed Our Future charity, which provides healthy meals to needy schoolchildren in the Cayman Islands. Registration ends 12 June. To register visit www.flowersseaswim.com.

 

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The Flowers Mile Sea Swim is the world’s richest open water event. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

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Registration is restricted to ‘only’ 900!

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The start of the swim is a wonderful sight. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD
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