By Erin Hawkins
ST. CROIX, US Virgin Islands, October 10. ON Sunday, October 26, 2003, the Eighth Annual St. Croix Coral Reef Swim will take place from Buck Island Reef National Monument to The Buccaneer resort’s Mermaid Beach.
130 swimmers representing 21 states in the United States, Japan, and India will compete again this year on the five mile open water course. A number of St. Croix swimmers will also compete including 13-year old Blue Marlin swimmer Brandon Whitehurst, the youngest participant, and fellow Virgin Islands national teammate and Dolphin swimmer Ryan Nelthropp.
In addition, over sixty St. Croix kayakers, numerous boat captains, emergency medical technicians, safety SCUBA divers and dozens of other volunteers will donate their time and services to ensure the safety and efficient operation on the race again this year.
Last year’s top finisher, Pan American medalist Alex Kositch, (Los Angeles, California), will return again this year to defend his title. Kostich set a new course record last year amid high wind and heavy waves, coming in with a record time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 12 seconds.
Divisions will include Solo Male and Solo Female; Junior (18 and younger) Solo Male and Junior Solo Female; Solo with Fins; and 3-person relay teams for Male, Female, or Mixed.
Participants will assemble at Green Cay Marina at 6:00 a.m. to be taken by boat to the beach at Buck Island in order to start swimming when a conch shell is blown at 7:30 a.m.
After swimming the course, they must leave the water and cross a land-based finish line. Friends and well-wishers are invited to the Mermaid Beach at The Buccaneer to greet arriving finishers as they leave the water, starting at approximately 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning.
Awards will be presented and top finishers will receive distinctive designer silver bracelets donated by the Caribbean Bracelet Company.
This year’s five mile swim will be preceded by a ten mile swim on Saturday, October 25. Swimmers will enter the water at 7:00 a.m. at Mermaid Beach at The Buccaneer, swim to Buck Island, and return to Mermaid Beach.