The Flowers One Mile Sea Swim has grown from a few dozen die-hard open water swimmers in 1992 to nearly 900 every year.
Saturday’s swim saw 970 enter and 886 swim and the organizers Frank Flowers and his daughter Dara Flowers-Burke are confident they will get 1,000 next year.
Cayman is becoming a must-go for open water swimming partly because of the Flowers event. On Monday, for the really keen, they have arranged a 5k and 10k too.
It has evolved from just the main swim to a long weekend of events, which started with a charity dinner at the Marriott on Thursday, a lunch at Abacus on Friday, and the long swims today.
Even non-swimmers have a chance to get involved because there is a walk and watch option at one-mile event.
Getting 1,000 entrants is a realistic ambition considering how renowned the world’s richest sea swim has become. The prizes and giveaways alone merit entry, as does the fact that proceeds always go to a charity – this year it was Feed Our Future.
Former world champion Mateusz Sawrymowicz won the one-mile swim in 18 minutes, 9 seconds; Keri-Anne Payne was second and Jake Zakale third.
The celebrated Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett, were a welcome sight, as was Heather Roffey, who is also a Caymanian Olympian.
Pick of the next generation of Cayman hopefuls were Chris Courtis, Iain McCallum, Andrew Smilley, Danielle Boothe and Catriona MacRae, who all finished just behind the elite athletes.
Of all the things Mario Wojcicki from Ontario, Canada, could choose to do to celebrate his 80th birthday, he decided to come here for the Flowers event with wife Olga and meet his daughter Dagma, who lives here, and celebrate with family.
“It was incredible, I’m just so happy,” Wojcicki said. “I’m really a skier, not a swimmer and because I have some spinal issues I had to swim it backstroke.
“It was nice to get a medal at the end of it and I really appreciate Frank Flowers inviting us to the lunch at Abacus.”
The Wojcicki family party was at Grand Old House and Mario showed his musical skills by playing the accordion.
“I feel completely like a young man,” he added. “Life begins at 80.” He intends to come back for his fourth Flowers swim.
Lisa Bird, who used to live in Cayman and returned to her Australia homeland, happened to be here on vacation from Brisbane and when she learned that the Flowers swim was on, immediately signed up.
Another determined swimmer was a woman recovering from a broken leg, who was seen to abandon her crutches to tackle the one-mile swim. There were numerous other heart-warming stories, such is the lure.
The Olympic and world champions who regularly come here put aside this weekend as an essential trip.
It has evolved from just the main swim to a long weekend of events, which started with a charity dinner at the Marriott on Thursday, a lunch at Abacus on Friday and the long swims today.