Fraser inspires next generation to make a splash

Brett Fraser is in strict training in New York for his next big meet in a few weeks.  

At least he had a nice warm break with close American friends Rex Tullius and Michael Vernoia at the recent Caribbean Utilities Company 800 meters open water swim, organized by the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association.  

Tullius and Vernoia were in the Olympic trials for the United States team last year but did not make the trip to London.  

Fraser just about won, beating Tullius by a split second in 9 minutes, 40 seconds with local teenager Iain McCallum splitting them. Vernoia (10:47) finished 12th.  

Fraser is focused on the U.S. National Championships in Tennessee in mid-December and will compete in the 50 meters freestyle and 50m butterfly.  

Brother Shaune was settling in at law school and could not make the trip. Because of his commitments Shaune may miss the U.S. championships.  

The Frasers came through the ranks in Cayman with Heather Roffey and Andrew MacKay. All of them have been to the Olympics at least once. Under new technical director Bailey Weathers, the local swimming program hopes to nurture more Olympians for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.  

Brett is now working part-time with a private equity firm in New York. “I’m in Manhattan in the Big Apple and it’s a great environment to be in. I still get to do everything, train hard. 

“CUC put on a phenomenal event, as they do every time and really thank everyone involved in putting it together and I’m really grateful to them for bringing me and my colleagues down.  

“We were happy to be there and help make it a successful event. I think the swimming program is really turning around in Cayman.  

“Andy Copley, the head coach at Stingray Swim Club, is doing an excellent job. I really got on well with him at the Island Games and I see the program coming up with the kids we have right now and coming back to the level that brought out the talent in me, Shaune, Heather and Andrew. I’m happy for the future.” 

Tullius, who works in commercial real estate, was here for the third time. “I love coming to Cayman and hanging out with Brett and Shaune when he is here,” Tullius said.  

Vernoia lives in East Village, Manhattan and works in risk analysis in hedge funds. He said: “This is my first time and I’m loving it. It is such a beautiful place and I hope to come back. I love seeing the look in the kids’ eyes and seeing how they respect how we have done the whole college swimming and trying out for the Olympic team and seeing Brett going to the Olympics. Having them come out and swim with us is the greatest thing about it.” 

Iain McCallum said: “From the start I was just trying to go out fast and stay with the first three and hopefully past one of them.  

“I didn’t expect to pass one so early. It was a good race overall.” 

His ambitions are to improve his times and emulate older brother Alex who has just started university life at Loughborough College in England and is an integral member of the swim squad there. “It’s good to see Alex there,” McCallum said. “It gives me something to shoot for. Hopefully, I can pass him at that as well.” 

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Iain McCallum

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Brett Fraser was well received with his pals Rex Tullius and Michael Vernoia. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD
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