Von Kanel meet remembers hero

The Landon Von Kanel Memorial Invitational Swim Meet started on Thursday and runs until Sunday.

It is presented by Coldwell Banker Cayman and the Von Kanel family in memory of Landon Von Kanel, a former Stingray Club swimmer who died in a car accident in the U.S. in 2001.

A native Mississippian and the son of pastor Randy Von Kanel and his wife Cindy, Landon spent his primary and early secondary years in the Cayman Islands where he excelled in swimming at the Lions pool and in the Caribbean.

He became the first gold medalist in international competition in the history of Cayman Islands swimming, winning the 200 meters and 400m freestyle at the CARIFTA Games in Trinidad in 1996.

These first medals by Von Kanel (two gold and two silver) and two of his best friends and teammates, Shauna Powell (two gold and one silver) and Tina Abbott (two silver), were the first of many more to come as they inspired the swimmers who followed to believe they could achieve their dreams.

Almost 14 years have passed since he died, but neither Landon, nor his spirit and commitment, is forgotten.

This is the first swim meet hosted in his memory, of what is hoped to be an annual invitational event. It is an invitational meet in the hope that in the years to come it will encourage excellence in swimming and foster cross-cultural experiences between Caymanian and international swimmers.

J.C. Calhoun of Coldwell Banker Cayman said: “I have always believed that young people’s surroundings play a large part in who they become as adults.

“That is why I founded Little League and why Coldwell Banker continues to support youth programs which promote sportsmanship, accountability and discipline along with competition. As a result, we are pleased to sponsor this event held in memory of such a fine young man.”

Closing out a highly successful season under head coach David Pursley and following on from the fast-paced, Vigoro Friday Night Lights and Lions Sprint Meet, swimmers from Cayman’s competitive age-group swim clubs will be vying for the opportunity to post personal bests, break records and put their rivals on notice of what is to come next year.

Competition on Friday begins at 5:30 p.m. Swimming on Saturday and Sunday will take place in two sessions from 8:15 a.m.

Heading into the summer, Stingray Swim Club swimmers have a full schedule of training ahead of them.

They are competing in the Island Games in Jersey, Pan Am Games in Toronto, the CIASA organized training camp in Fort Myers, Florida, and the Endless Summer Swim Meet in Clearwater, Florida.