A record 1,010 swimmers took the plunge Saturday as Seven Mile Beach was transformed into a sea of color for an emotional 24th edition of the Flowers Sea Swim.

American open-water swim champion Chip Peterson led the field home on a poignant day for organizer Frank Flowers, who lost his wife Eve to acute myeloid leukemia in April.

“It is the first one without my wife,” said Mr. Flowers, who swam with his son Frank Jr. and daughter Dara Flowers Burke. “It was a touching and emotional moment. She was very sick last year, but we were always hopeful that God would give us a miracle.”

Proceeds will go toward the Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s Eve Flowers Bone Marrow Donation Fund.

American swim champions take open-water titles

After missing out on victory by an arms-length in 2015, American swimmer Chip Peterson did not take any chances this time, storming to victory in the Flowers Sea Swim.

Peterson led from the front, coming in more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field. Despite the apparent ease of his victory, the 28-year-old said he did not know he had won until he crossed the finish line.

“I wasn’t positive till I swam through and got the ‘1’ card. It is hard to tell if someone has snuck in before you,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone but it is always a possibility in these races.”

Last year’s race was virtually a photo-finish, with Jordan Wilmovsky edging out Peterson by less than two seconds.

“I thought I was in the lead and I saw him just about 100 yards out from the finish. That is why this is such an interesting race, you have so many different paths you can take coming along shore.”

It is the third time Peterson has competed in the Flower’s swim and his second victory, adding to his 2010 triumph.

Peterson’s teammate Emily Brunemann, 29, also an American swimming champion, was the first woman across the line.

“It was hard,” she said. “You could definitely tell the current was going the other way a little bit. It’s always better to have it with you.

“It was a beautiful race and I saw a stingray that was going with me.”

Both winning swimmers praised the event as one of the best in the world for open-water swimming.

Peterson said, “This is such a fantastic location on Seven Mile Beach, I don’t think there is a more beautiful spot. The Caymanians are just so nice. This is such a great group of people, especially the Flowers [family], who put on this race. We get inspired every time we come down here and see the causes they contribute to.”

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