As if we needed any further excuse for diving into Seven Mile’s crystalline waters, the Flowers Sea Swim returns for its 25th anniversary on June 10. Online registration closes on Wednesday or when 1,100 participants have registered, whichever comes first.

The calm, clear sea and balmy weather make for a flawless course, placing Flowers in the World’s Top 13 Open Water Swims, by some accounts. It’s also one of the richest open water events, with more than $100,000 in cash and random prizes. Previous giveaways have included mobile phones, iPads and hotel stays. The odds of winning one of these random prizes are 1-in-7, organizers say. Even those who don’t score a prize still walk away with a T-shirt and goody bag.

The race route has changed this year, said Dara Flowers Burke, head of Flowers Sea Swim Marketing, “so that will be a fun, new experience for everyone.”

Flowers says her favorite part of the event is the start: “I am not a competitive swimmer, so I swim for fun, and the start is so exciting with everyone waiting anxiously to begin. When the signal horn goes off and all the splashing starts with a sea of a thousand or more swimmers, it’s so exhilarating.”

One Mile Sea Swim

The classic one-mile swim will begin at the Royal Palms and ends at the Westin, Grand Cayman, with the prize-giving ceremony held at the Westin. Swimmers of all strokes are welcome. In the past, participants have ranged from 8 to 80 years old, including novices to gold medal Olympians and world champion open water swimmers.

Entry fee is $32; all registration proceeds are donated to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

5K and 10K

For those seeking an extra challenge, Flowers also holds international 5K and 10K races. Starting at the Westin on June 12, both local and visiting swimmers ages 14+ are encouraged to take part.

The entry fee is $60.

“We will be introducing time chips for all the 5K and 10K athletes this year, making this a truly international event,” says Flowers Burke.

There will be random prizes for competitors, in addition to an American holiday prize for the overall winners, trophies for the top three places and a bonus US$5,000 for anyone who breaks the 10K course record.

Walk and Watch

Non-swimmers can support the race and soak up the atmosphere by signing up for the Walk and Watch option for $20. All registered walkers are eligible for random prizes, and the first 100 to check in on race day receive a free T-shirt.

Olympians join in

Besides enjoying a day out on Seven Mile Beach, the event offers a rare opportunity to see Olympic swimmers in action. Some 25 Olympians have signed up this year, organizers said. Cayman’s Brett and Shaune Fraser, Heather Roffey and Geoffrey and Lara Butler will compete, as will American Olympic gold medal-winner Ian Crocker and Australia’s open-water world record holder Penny Palfrey.

Olympian Gala Charity Dinner

Mingle with Olympians and other elite athletes at the Olympian Gala Charity Dinner on Thursday, June 8, at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort. There will be a reception from 6-7 p.m., followed by a three-course dinner with wine.

The annual Flowers Sea Swim charity dinner, which benefits the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, costs $150 per person or $1,500 for a table for 10. For information, contact the Cancer Society office at 949-7618 or email [email protected]

Open Water Swimming Championships

Cayman will also host the 2017 UANA Pan American Open Water Swimming Championships. Delegates from North, South and Central America will compete in the mile, 2.5K, 5K and 10K races and relays from June 10-12.

For more details or to register for the sea swims, visit www.flowersseaswim.com.

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