The open water sea swim season starts again with the Foster’s Food Fair IGA 800 meters event.
It is the 29th annual Foster’s swim and it has changed direction, starting on Saturday at Public Beach and finishing at Governor’s Beach.
The swim begins at 4 p.m., with registration from 3 to 3:45 p.m. The race runs unusually south, parallel to Seven Mile Beach.
The sea swim attracts a wide variety of participants – competitive and non-competitive swimmers of all ages – and is a great family activity.
Registration fees range from $10 to $20, depending on age and whether one is a member of the swimming association.
“Foster’s Food Fair IGA is delighted to be part of this event again,” said Woody Foster, Foster’s Food Fair IGA managing director. “Our companies, and more importantly our family, are long-time supporters of swimming and we always look forward to this event, to see how many of the Foster’s family actually turn out to swim and equally important, how many of them are actually able to come in ahead of Chi Chi, who sets a wonderful example to us all on the benefits of swimming.”
All swimmers are provided with swim caps, which must be worn for safety reasons. There also are event T-shirts, trophies for the top three male and female finishers in each age group as well as refreshments.
Kerri Kanuga is a regular open water swimmer.
“I love the Foster’s swim,” she said. “I think I’ve participated in it about 10 times now. The swimming association events are very well organized and attendance is always excellent. These events give me a chance to spend time with fellow master swimmers to talk about our aches and pains and dream of being as fast as the juniors.”
An accomplished triathlete, Kanuga is using this swim as preparation for her next event, the Alligator Lighthouse Swim, which is an eight-mile lung buster on Sept. 21 in the Florida Keys.
“I am lucky enough to have Brenda Anderson as my safety support, she was part of the kayak team that just helped Diana Nyad complete her recent world record 111-mile swim,” Kanuga said. “Hopefully, she can get me through the eight miles.
“Once I have completed the Alligator swim, I will start to focus on running. I’m not fast, but I have endurance so I prefer the longer runs.
“My next run will be the 30K solo run put on by Race Caribbean, followed by the Cayman Islands Marathon in December and then Off The Beaten Track in the new year, leading up to the Keys 100, which I was not able to complete in last year as I broke some bones in my foot.”
Open water specialist Bill “Tarzan” McFarland is looking forward to this event.
“I like the Foster’s swim because it usually attracts a large crowd of enthusiasts,” he said. “Our biggest sea swim ever, the Foster’s swim held just prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, saw over 200 competitors taking part.
“I also like the fact that the Foster family comes out and supports the swim by not only providing the sponsorship check, but also by getting in the water and competing. I can’t remember the last time there weren’t three generations of Fosters taking part in the event.”
McFarland has taken part in just about every Foster’s Food Fair swim since arriving in Grand Cayman 13 years ago.
His sporting plans for the rest of the year are quite ambitious, as he is looking forward to competing in the remaining events on the swimming association calendar including the CUC 800 meter in October and the Pirates Week 5K in November, which should be a cake walk, he says, compared to the Flowers 10K he did in June.
“I’ve recently branched out from swimming and I’m enjoying cycling and even running again, from which I have had to take a five-year break due to a knee injury that I have rehabilitated through cycling.
“I am taking part in the triathlon training series and will be competing in the Cayman Islands triathlon on Nov. 3, with the goal of beating my tennis coach Dale ‘The Prawn’ Avery and most importantly, my wife, Jody, who is coming off a strong performance having won the female division of the Stroke & Stride. If all goes well I may even attempt my first half marathon in December just to give it a go.”
Penny McDowall is a special needs teacher at the Lighthouse School. She loves the atmosphere at the Foster’s swim.
“It’s like a big party where every one has the same goal – to finish,” she said.
Andrew Smilley, Waide McLaughlin and Lorraine Russell are Lighthouse students who will swim.
McDowall has swam virtually all the Foster’s swims.
“I missed one year, I think it was 2003 when we had to catch the plane to Ireland for the World Games,” she said. “But Andrew and Lorraine swam and showered there and then caught the plane.”