Its difficult to adequately describe in words the heart-warming camaraderie when open water swimmers get together. Its witnessed annually at the Barbados Open Water Festival when a diverse mix of swimmers of all ages and abilities arrive from all over the world and five days of “fun and fabulous” begins! As Rachel (who classed her group as “completors” not “competers”!) from the UK wrote:
“We met some great people from the UK in our most exotic swim destination yet and we will be meeting up to swim in their local river and they will join us for a sea swimming initiation, that’s what its all about.”
As usual the swimmers came from everywhere! Swimmers were welcomed from as far away as Singapore and South Africa. Many visited from all over the United Kingdom and Europe, United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and neighbouring Caribbean islands.
Hundreds took part in the “social swims and post-swim dinners” as well as the four races (1.5K, 3.3K, 5K and 10K races) and the Just for Fun 1.5K Swim during the five-day event in November 2018. The Fun Swim once again raised funds for Variety: The Children’s Charity.
The 7th annual Festival also featured the historic start of the successful 96K swim around Barbados by Cameron Bellamy of South Africa. It was his second attempt in 8 weeks and to the delight of scores who saw the start and the thousands who tracked his progress online he completed the swim an incredible 40 hours and 43 minutes later. Its been declared the fourth longest solo unassisted sea swim ever. Cameron’s new plan: swimming from Cuba to Florida during the summer of this year! He also plans to return to the Barbados Open Water Festival in 2019.
The Festival “upped its game” in 2018 with the introduction of professional timing by Sportstats, newly designed finisher medals, premium silicon caps for each of the four races, numerous random prizes and live steel pan music.
There were several standout performances by the competitive swimmers at the 2018 event. Nikoli Blackman of Trinidad roared to victory in both the 1.5K and 5K races. Ceri Edwards, the 2017 UK Masters champ over 1.5K had an impressive win in the ladies field and second overall in the 1.5K and came back the following day to win the Ladies 10K.
Former Canadian competitive swimmer and 2011 World Championship Bronze medallist Martha McCabe cruised home in the 3.3K while another Canadian, 14 year old Ethan Campbell topped the Men’s field in that race. Teenager Carolyn Pennington of New York claimed the Ladies 5K. For the first time, a Barbadian swimmer, Nkosi Dunwoody, was victorious in the 10K. Dennis Vanderheiden and “Athletes in Tandem” deserve a special mention for attending the Festival for the second time and allowing two differently abled Barbadian athletes the opportunity to take part in the swim races.
The 2019 Barbados Open Water Festival is scheduled for Nov 6-10.
MISSION: TO PROMOTE SWIMMING IN BARBADOS AND TO SHARE OUR VENUES WITH POOL & OPEN WATER SWIMMERS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE!
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Swimming news is courtesy of Swim Barbados, a SwimSwam partner.