Taking It from the Pool to the Sea

Courtesy: Eney Jones

Eney Jones sat down with Mike Curley, the head coach of the Orlando Highlanders, at the Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands, to talk about his team’s trip to and performances at the open water competition.

Recently you took the Highlander swimmers from Orlando Florida, to the Flowers Sea Swim the Cayman islands. How did you decide on the Flowers Sea Swim and why?

We took 16 swimmers to Grand Cayman.  My goal as Head Coach at Highlander is to help provide experiences; experiences in the water and most importantly experiences in life. Simply put, Swimming is hard, some call it a grind.  As coaches we try to realize the long journey from blowing bubbles to age group swimming to senior level swimming needs to have experiences that leave indelible memories.

We competed in the sunset 1 mile swim, the 5k (3 swimmers) and the 10k (13 swimmers).  Once again the experience of having the kids swim with the likes of Jordan Wilimovsky, National teams from Canada, Peru, Cayman and such leaves everlasting memories. Our swimmers held their own, in the 800 plus swimmers in the 1 mile we had 10 of the top 50 finishers! Alix Roy finished 3rd overall for all females.  In the 5K we had the fourth overall female, Alix’s sister CoCo Roy (and she’s only 13!) In the 10 K we had 3 boys finish in the 15 and once again Alix Roy finished 3rd overall in the females.


How does racing in the ocean affect their pool racing?

We don’t talk about it so “swimming is swimming”.  We are headed to a prelim/final meet Thursday of this week (Sarasota Sharks Meet) so we are right back on it.


Do you have to make changes in their training?

Occasionally we make a trip to Lucky Meisenheimer‘s famous lake house here in Orlando to do open water swims. As all know Lucky is extremely generous and hospitable and hosts terrific events at Lake Cane.


Does it benefit their mental attitude, toughness and physical prowess?

I think anytime you swim longer than a mile without touching the sand, pool bottom or stopping you are naturally building mental toughness. Or feed their soul by swimming in such a beautiful place with people from all over the world swimming for life.


Amen to this!!

What were the highlights of the trip?

For me the highlights are watching the athletes compete in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.  The open water directors (Dom Ross and others) and all the wonderful volunteers are incredibly generous and welcoming. Being in Cayman is a needed break for the monotony of swimming over a black line for 3-4  hours a day.

From Alix Roy, the girl who was 3rd in the 10k, “The Flowers Sea Swim is an amazing open water event. Grand Cayman is breathtakingly beautiful and I’m so thankful to be able to swim with my teammates along with everyone else who competed.”


The Cayman Islands sound so expensive and exotic. How do you keep costs down. Do you fund raise? We do not raise funds, we stay 4 to a room at the Sunshine Suites and try and cook all their meals.  Breakfast comes complimentary


Do the kids realize that it is an incredible opportunity that many kids don’t have?

We talk and commutate all the time about Gratitude and how lucky they are to be able to experience this trip.


Do they know ALL of the race proceeds go to charity? Apologies I have never discussed this with them.


Do they get inspired meeting and seeing the Olympians.
Our kids seem to come inspired and they leave empowered.


The 10k men’s finish between 3rd and 4th came down to a sprint between two Canadians vying for a Pan Pac spot (Hau-Li Fan and Jon McKay) Did they see this? 

I did not see this as I was on the feed boat.


Do you work in elements such as speed play, sprinting and the ability to go into overdrive at the finish?

We train for pool events and use the open water to create a new and memorable experiences. The Flowers Sea Swim did just that for us; we now have indelible memories from the event that will carry us farther on the long black line in the pool.


For further results on the Flowers Sea Swim go here.


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).

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3 years ago

Great article and STRONG WORK Orlando Highlanders, impressive effort.