The Flowers Sea Swim means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some it is elite competition, for others a personal challenge. For many, it is purely social.
Of the 900 contestants at the starting line for the mile-long ocean swim on Saturday, each will have a different motivation for embarking on the challenge.
With over $100,000 in prizes and giveaways it is the richest and one of the most respected open water swims worldwide.
Frank Flowers and his daughter Dara Flowers-Burke are internationally renowned now for their organisational skills. Olympians and world record holders always compete and often overwhelmed with the great atmosphere and beauty of the event.
Among those at the start line at the beach front of the Ritz-Carlton will be Jim Fraser. As the father of two Olympians, Shaune and Brett, Fraser knows a thing or two about elite swimming.
Brett and Shaune took a historic gold and silver at the Pan Am games 200m freestyle in 2011 and Shaune won silver at the same Games four years earlier. For their dad, he is just happy to know he can go the distance.
“I have been involved with the organisation of the swim since day one,” he said. “I’ve swam in maybe half of them and it’s always a good feeling to know that you can swim a mile.”
He believes the swim has become the pinnacle event in Cayman’s tourism and sporting calendar and has gathered worldwide recognition.
For tennis player Richard Harrison, the appeal of the race lies in both the challenge and the setting.
Harrison, who has competed eight times in the event, said: “I love ocean swimming and there aren’t many better places in the world to do it.
“When there is such a fantastic initiative such as the Flowers Sea Swim I have to support it.”
He said the race is superbly organised and the addition of 5k and 10k swims on the same weekend proves the appeal is growing.
“Consistently Olympic gold medal winners have been attracted reflecting the global reach of the event. But it still very much retains the local touch in the very worthy groups it supports.”
Betsy Drummond, head of Butterfield Bank’s treasury department, is another regular in the race.
She estimates she has competed eight times. She said: “I do it as a personal challenge, for a few years I did it to encourage my kids in their swimming,
“I do it as a fun community event, for the social aspect and to make sure I squeeze into a swim suit at least once a year. If the squeeze is too intense then I take the cue and lose some weight.
“Every time I do it, it reminds me that I am so lucky to live somewhere like Cayman, where events like this are hosted in such pristine conditions and to be healthy and fit enough to be able to participate.”