It’s hard to believe that an event which attracts nearly 900 swimmers started with only 60 not so long ago. But that is in fact the case with the annual Flowers One Mile Sea Swim.
It celebrated its 21st staging on Saturday – and what a coming of age.
A record turnout, fabulous race conditions with a photo-finish and a course record greeted participants and attendees, as well as did fantastic prizes and giveaways and an impressive amount of money raised for charity.
Large crowds congregated at the beach front of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Saturday, including the those gathered to walk the beach course and cheer on the swimmers.
A record 880 people completed the world’s richest sea swim, with more than $100,000 in prizes.
It included Caymanan Olympians Shaune Fraser, Andrew MacKay and Heather Roffey, but it was the visiting elite swimmers who took top honours.
Pre-race favourite Joey Pedraza set a course record while slightly edging out Jordan Wilimovsky with a time of 16 minutes, 52.45 seconds. Wilimovsky finished a close second in 16:52.86.
Third was Brendan Casey, three seconds behind at 16:55.89, while Scott Simmer placed fourth at 16:59.83.
The first female home was Zsofi Balazs, who finished fifth overall with a time of 17 minutes, 49.95 seconds.
All registration proceeds will be donated to the Feed Our Future charity, which provides healthy meals to needy schoolchildren in Cayman.
The Caymanian Compass was a media sponsor and marketing executive Anne Guerrero accepted a plaque from the organisers for helping promote the event. Overall, it was another laudable success, organised chiefly by Frank Flowers and his daughter, Dara Flowers-Burke, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday. She is also eight months pregnant, yet still found the time and energy to swim the course.
For those with exceptional stamina, the Flowers duo organised a 5K and 10K swim, at Grand Cayman Beach Suites on Monday.
Flowers-Burke said: “The 21st Flowers Sea Swim was the best to date.
“We had some 950 swimmers registered and 880 complete the mile. This was by far the largest and the smoothest. The volunteers were absolutely incredible, especially the medical and safety teams who adhered to the strictest of standards.
“On behalf of Frank Flowers and the Flowers family, we would like to thank all of the swimmers, volunteers, staff, spectators and sponsors who made this event possible. We are delighted to have raised over $32,000 for Feed Our Future to provide hot healthy lunches for schoolchildren in need in the Cayman Islands.
“The weather conditions were excellent, blue skies and gentle currents and we had a new course record set by Joey Pedraza, which added to a great day.
“On a personal note, it was a special day for the Flowers family as it was my 5 month old niece Sinclair’s first Flowers Sea Swim. It was also my first swim with a baby on board – I am eight months pregnant – and was especially proud to have completed the mile and enjoyed the whole event.
“We look forward to making the swim even better next year and can’t wait to welcome everyone back.”