Hours before the pirates made their landfall, another group was stirring on Cayman’s shores.
The 39th annual Pirates Week 5K Swim was held on Saturday, and dozens of swimmers showed up at Governor’s Beach to test their endurance. Forty-two swimmers hit the water shortly after 7 a.m., and an hour later, a former Olympian was the first to make it to the finish line.
Chad Ho, who finished 10th in the 10K open water swim at the 2016 Olympics, came home first on Saturday in an hour and 24 seconds. Ho, a South African, won the 5K swim at the FINA World Championships in 2015, and he was on Grand Cayman this weekend to visit his sister Andrea.
“This is my first time in the Cayman Islands,” said Ho after his first-place swim. “This is an awesome place to come and swim. I thoroughly enjoyed it out there. The weather was nice and warm, crystal clear. A lot of sea life. I’m very happy and it was quite a nice experience to come out and swim it.”
More than half the field of competitors were in the 10-19 age bracket, and Jake Bailey, the second-place finisher, came in a little more than five minutes after Ho. The first two female finishers – Jasmine Lambert-Wragg and Elana Sinclair – came in together at 1:07.55 and 1:07.56 respectively.
Marius Acker, who finished second in the Olympic Distance at last week’s Cayman Islands Triathlon, came home 13th overall and first in the 40-59 age group with a time of 1:16.30.
Ana Furzan was the fastest woman in that age group, finishing 21st overall in a time of 1:22.41.
Forty of the 42 competitors managed to finish the distance before two hours had elapsed.
Ho, 29 years old, said that the swim doubled as a chance to visit family.
“My sister has been working here and living here for two years,” he said. “She’s been trying to convince me to come out and do a swim. Eventually, she managed to convince me and I’m grateful. It’s far to come for a swim, but I’ve mixed coming in for the swim with a holiday and seeing my sister.”
The early-morning serenity of Seven Mile Beach would be interrupted hours later by the Pirates Week celebration, and Ho said he was looking forward to being a part of the event.
“I was out there seeing the fireworks last night,” said Ho of the festivities. “We’ll definitely go out to see the parade and experience the full island experience. We’ll see what else we have to do.”