In perfect weather and sea conditions, 109 swimmers took part in the Flow 800m Sea Swim, one of the first competitive sea swims of the season.
With less than 30 seconds separating the top 10 finishers, John Bodden of Stingray Swim Club took the lead to win the race in a time of 7 minutes, 28 seconds. He was followed by Stingray Swim Club coach Mark Randall in 7:30, and Eddie Weber of Camana Bay Aquatic Club in 7:32.
The top three female finishers were Ria Plunkett in a time of 7:47, Lauren Hew in 8:03 and Stephanie Royston in 8:08.
The swim, held on Saturday, May 14, was a loop course, starting and ending at Governors Beach.
The course proved a much faster one this year than in previous years. The previous record for the race was held by Geoffrey Butler, who made a time of 9:28 in 2013.
Technical director of the Cayman Islands Amateur Athletics Association, Bailey Weathers, explained that with perfect conditions, a different course from previous years, and vastly improving speeds of high school swimmers meant much faster finishing times at this year’s event.
“Times in open water vary an incredible amount,” Weathers said. “They are subject to all kinds of factors, which is one of the main reasons that we really do not keep national records in open water events.”
Some of those factors, he pointed out, include weather, wind and surf conditions, the current, where the course is set in relation to the beach and the course itself. “If the beach curves next to the course, they will stay the same distance from the beach without realizing it is not the straightest line,” Weathers said.
“All that said, I think the conditions were better this year than last but I also felt that the course itself was short. We were using a different course and different direction on the course.
“But on the other side, our high school boys are much faster than they have ever been in open water, based on Carifta results.”
He added, “At the end of the day, it was a great race to watch and, as always, a fun experience!
Michael Lockwood, president of the Cayman Islands Amateur Athletics Association, agreed, saying, “What a perfect day to be getting back into the water and to participate in the annual Flow sea swim. After a couple of months break, it was a great warm-up for the longer Flowers Sea Swims in early June.
“I would like to thank Sandy Hew who stepped down from CIASA this year – she has had the responsibility of organizing our sea swims for the past two years and has made tremendous strides in improving these both from a safety and organization perspective. I would also like to welcome Gil Belafonte who has taken over from Sandy.”
The full race results can be found on www.ciasa.ky.
The next event open water swimmers can take part in is the 14th Annual Butterfield 800M Sea Swim on Saturday, May 28.
The swim starts at 4 p.m., with registration from 3-3:45 p.m. Similar to the Flow swim, the loop course begins and ends at Governors Beach.
Organizers say all swimmers – competitive and non-competitive – are invited, including parents who want to swim the course with their children.
Registration takes place at Governors Beach. Registration entry fees for CIASA members are $10 for children and $15 for adults. For non-members, the entry fees are $15 for children and $20 for adults.
Swimmers will be provided with swim caps and T-shirts. There will be trophies for the top three male and female finishers in each age group, and Subway sandwiches and refreshments provided at the end of the race.