The Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association said that nearly 120 swimmers took to the crystal-clear waters off Governor’s Beach on Saturday, May 14 for the 33rd Flow Open Water Sea Swim.
The event, which featured dozens of junior swimmers and families competing together, marked the first Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association local open water event since February’s 5K Open Water National Championships. It provided swimmers an opportunity to prepare for longer-distance swims ahead of the Flowers 1-Mile Sea Swim on June 11.
“We just think it’s a wonderful community event in Cayman,” said Flow Marketing Manager Alyssa Christian. “Who wouldn’t want to be part of this beautiful event in this beautiful water? Swimming is such a big sport for Cayman but also an important skill for people living here to embrace and learn and know. So we’re really excited again to bring this back. It has been a couple of years, thanks to COVID. So we’re really just excited to be out here, be part of the community, see our customers and friends and interact again.”
While the Flow 800 provided a distinctly fun and family-friendly feel, it also drew some of the Cayman Islands’ top swimmers. They didn’t disappoint as the top three finishers – Will Sellars, Thomas Ferguson and Connor MacDonald – all finished within 1.4 seconds of one another. It was Sellars who edged Ferguson by less than three-tenths of a second to place first with a time of 10-minutes, 29.27 seconds. Ferguson took second in 10:29.58, followed by MacDonald in 10:30.61.
Kyra Rabess finished fourth overall and was the top female finisher with a time of 10:39.64. Harper Barrowman took fifth overall in 10:41.05.
“This year we have a fantastic crop of athletes,” Event Director Martin Trott said. “We saw some great swimming in our national championships in March. We then came out and had an amazing CARIFTA Swimming Championships over in Barbados. Now we have the swimmers come back here and compete in these sea swim events. The finish just went to prove that. All of our top sea swimmers were here and the closest of that finish, with, effectively, a photo finish, proves that we’re in good shape.”
Age group winners for male swimmers included Aadhyaan Agarwal (8 & under), Colt Higgo (9-10), Gabriel Bispath (11-12), Dominic Gunn (13-14), Sellars (15-19), Matthew Javier (20-29), John Michael Junio (30-39), Patrick Harfield (40-49), Marius Acker (50-59), Wayne Hannum (60-69) and Frank Flowers (70 & over).
Female age group winners included Emilia Pywell (8 & under), Daniella Whiteman (9-10), Riley Watson (11-12), Lola Haworth (13-14), Rabess (15-19), Kanza Bodden (20-29), Jennifer Powell (30-39), Andrea Kilam-Higgo (40-49) and Victoria Hollinworth-Havlin (50-59).
“It’s awesome,” Christian said. “You see people of all different swim levels. I mean, you’ve got the little kids to the CARIFTA swimmers to Special Olympics. You’ve got a plethora of age ranges and I think it’s just so cool everybody doing the same thing with the same goal at different levels and abilities.”
Organizers also recognized during registration that several participants initially thought the event was only a distance of 400 meters. Most went on to complete the event anyway, prompting race officials to recognize them following the race.
“So the fact that they came out here and the families were all supportive, and we had such a great turnout… the environment is great, positive, the weather held off. It’s just a good weekend,” said former CIASA board member Duke Sullivan.
Also on hand for the event was Oly Rush, the ultra-long-distance swimmer who this week became the first person to swim around Grand Cayman. Rush, who encouraged those in attendance to continue pursuing their swimming goals, swam 65 miles around the island in just more than 36 hours to raise funds for Plastic Free Cayman and awareness about ocean pollution.
Up next on the CIASA open water calendar is the Butterfield 800-Meter Sea Swim, the final tune-up before the Flowers Swim. The Butterfield 800 takes place May 28 at Governor’s Beach. Registration begins at 3 p.m. and the race starts at 4 p.m. Click here for more information.
Registration is open for the Flowers 1-Mile Sea Swim, where 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte is among a strong field of international standouts set to compete along with local Olympians like Brett and Sean Fraser, Heather Roffey, Andrew Mackay, Lara and Geoff Butler, Darren Mew and more. Click here for more information on the Flowers Sea Swim.