Courtesy: Eney Jones
On November 11th, 2018, I had just finished the 5k at the Barbados Open Water Festival. I was sitting in the bar when a man covered in zinc walked through the bar on his way to the sea. He was getting ready to swim 96.4 kilometers around Barbados. I watched him start. I went to dinner. I went to bed. I flew home. I took a bus. I went to work the next day and met some friends after work and Cameron WAS still swimming into the second night. I was mesmerized. I could not stop tracking him on the computer. Who was this man? Early on the morning of Nov 13th, 2018, he completed his swim in 40 hours and 43 minutes. A full circumnavigation around the island of Barbados.
1. After your second try, you completed the Swim Around Barbados. Is there anything you did differently?
I trained a little bit more on heart rate, but essentially did the same amount of training – about 9 hours a day, 5 days a week
2. What is your swimming background? Most people never get to feel the “aliveness” of going to the extreme in anything. How did you prepare? How would you advise others to find and pursue their quest?
I only started swimming in 2011, as I wanted to swim the English Channel. When I made that (only just) I decided I wanted to keep going as I really enjoyed the training and the actual event.
I prepare by swimming 20 – 45 hours a week.
I advise people to do what they love doing – for me it’s swimming and rowing. I’m lucky I get to do these things to support education in South Africa.
3. Events like this are usually not a one person endeavor. Are there any people behind you or on your team you would like to thank?
Yes, Steve Walker is my business and training partner and also a great mentor. I also wouldn’t be able to make enough money to support my lifestyle and all the swimming I do without working with Steve.
Kevin Jennings (previous Assistant Secretary of Education for the US under Obama) is the chairman of my charity, The Ubunye Challenge. Kevin runs the charity for me and we wouldn’t be able to be as successful as we have been without Kevin at the helm.
My support team in Barbados, especially Kristina Evelyn of the Barbados Open Water Festival.
All of training buddies and swim coaches.
4. You are described with “laserlike” focus and a “cool” James Bond demeanor. How did you develop this and how do you clear your mind in a swim?
In the book The Three Year Swim Club they talk about going from a pool swimmer to an open water swimmer; and write that the key is staying present stroke by stroke. Do you have any tips for open water swimmers? Can you describe some high and low points in your mindset in the swim?
I think it’s important in life to just be yourself, especially through stressful times and in actual races/events. My greatest strength is my tenacity and I try to let that come out naturally when I’m doing a big swim by just being myself.
My biggest tip for pool swimmers going to open water swimmers, is take it in baby steps. Swim in deeper and deeper water, swim at night, keep pushing your limits (albeit slowly).
The only low point I had in the swim was around the North Point, where I stopped last time. I got through this by focusing on everyone who had helped me get there. The high points were the start and finish where I had such amazing support.
5. Why Barbados? What is your takeaway from this decision? I even heard people talking about you in the Sol gas station. Tell me about the Ubunye Foundation. How and why should people donate?
I’d been to Barbados before on a training camp (and visiting a friend) and loved swimming there. The island looked navigable and I asked my friend if it had been done before, when he said ‘no’ but a few people had tried, I decided I’d give it a shot. When I met the locals who got so invested in my swim I knew I’d made the right decision.
At the Ubunye Challenge, we work on tangible infrastructure projects where every cent donated goes straight to the project on the ground (which is very rare these days). I feel very privileged to be able to work on these projects doing something that I love.
For our current project this year, $150 allows a child to be educated for a year.
Cameron is starting to adjust to normal life, but his life (and he) may never be normal again.
About Eney Jones
Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer.
- Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
- Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
- National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
- Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
- Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
- European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
- Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
- Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
- Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).