Hours of heavy rainfall did not dampen the spirits of more than 425 swimmers who swam in the first day of the 5th Barbados Open Water Festival (BOWF) in Carlisle Bay this past weekend. Several visiting swimmers, determined to make the scheduled start walked to the venue when flooded roads halted public transport. The 1.5K race was delayed for just 25 minutes to allow for arrival of all swimmers and the medical team before Alex Meyer and Eney Jones of the USA stormed home to claim the top spots.
The following day the sun broke through and Meyer and Jones repeated in the 5K. The recently retired US elite swimmer Meyer and former pro-triathlete Jones have both won the 5K in previous years at the event. Jones posted on social media after the event: “It is an incredible event. This little tiny island in the middle of the sea means so very much to me.”
The first 10K ever hosted at the Barbados Open Water Festival will be remembered as the one in which 15 year old Taylor Parker of Saskatchewan, Canada, recorded an epic overall win. The slender Parker, on his third visit to the Festival with his family, swam to a fifth place finish in the 1.5K race the day before. Parker was the youngest competitor in a field of 28 competitors and swimming in his first ever 10K race. The Ladies 10K was convincingly won by retired professional triathlete Alison Hayden of the USA. Hayden recently won the 9.2 mile “Swim for the Alligator Light” race (September 17) in the Florida Keys.
Seasoned veteran Eney Jones amazed all present with her flawless performances especially in the 1.5K when up against two 23 year old Olympians: Lani Cabrera of Barbados and Tera Van Beilen of Canada. Cabrera was the second lady home in the 1.5K. Van Beilen, visiting Barbados with swim group “Freestyle Experience” did make the podium on the second day in the 10K relay race when her three-member team was victorious. Paralympian Benjamin Proctor of the UK who has previously medalled at the 2009 European Championships and 2012 Olympics (competing in the S14 classification) was impressive in his BOWF debut but unable to match the skill of Olympian and former US National champion Alex Meyer. Proctor was second to Meyer in both the 1.5K and 5K races.
Local swimmers performed creditably with junior Nkosi Dunwoody claiming third in the 1.5K and 5K, Rebecca Lashley taking second in the 5K and junior Ashley Weekes claiming a close third behind Cabrera in the 1.5K . In the 10K marathon swim Andrew Kirby, President of the Barbados Amateur Swimming Association and local open water swimming enthusiast, was the second placed male overall. The coveted Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy, awarded to the highest placed local masters swimmer in the 5K, was won by Rick Peters who was ninth overall.
Swimmers from 12 countries competed in the 1.5K on Nov 5 and the 5K and 10K races on Sunday Nov 6. They came from as far away as Australia and from countries that hadn’t previously been represented like Sweden and Israel. Hundreds of swimmers arrived several days ahead of the races to take part in guided practice swims at the venue and other open water swim locations around the island. The 2017 Barbados Open Water Festival is scheduled for November 1-5 (races Nov 4-5), 2017.
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Swim news courtesy of Carib Surf.