NEW YORK, New York, June 27. IN celebration of the Cayman Islands’ first-ever Olympic swim team, the Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Amateur Swim Association (CIASA) co-sponsored a New York City Media Tour.
On June 14 through 16, swimmers Andrew Mackay, Shaune Fraser and National Coach Dave Kelsheimer joined US swimming gold medalists Tom Malchow and Neil Walker for an event-filled three days in the big city.
Mackay and Fraser posted their Olympic-qualifying standard at the 2003 and 2004 CARIFITA Games respectively. Mackay will be competing in the 200m and 400m individual medley while Fraser earned a spot in the 200m freestyle. The young team has captured the heart of the entire nation where swimming is the number one participant sport in a population of less than 47,000.
Malchow and Walker earned their place in Olympic history at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Malchow reached gold in the 200 m butterfly while Walker took gold in the 4×100 medley relay. The two have served as mentors for the upstart Cayman team and are also frequent visitors to the destination as they have trained many times under Coach Kelsheimer.
During the last seven years the Cayman Islands has hosted more than 30 Olympic gold medal swimmers. Through this appeal to world-class athletes, the program has been built up significantly, enjoyed recent success and was recently named “the most improved program in the Americas” by FINA, the world governing body of swimming.
During their time in New York, the group trained at select NYC pools including the New York Athletic Club and the New York University’s Palladium Athletic facility. Following their session at NYU, a luncheon was held in their honor. Guests had the chance to hear how Kelsheimer and the Cayman Islands swim programme achieved success with limited resources and participated in a Q+A session with the group.
At the luncheon and to the delight of the crowd, it was announced that Heather Roffey of the Cayman Islands has now become the third swimmers to qualify for the Olympic swim team. She will be competing in the 800m freestyle and the 200m butterfly.
After a long day with media and members of the Olympic community, the visiting swimmers received a special welcome by the New York Mets during their game with the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, June 15.
“The Cayman Islands is very excited to have such fine young gentlemen as Andrew and Shaune representing our country at Athens, and this media tour was the perfect opportunity for the United States to share in our celebration,” said Pilar Bush, Acting Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands. “Neil and Tom’s support for our swimmers and our country has been unbelievable over the past couple of years, and we were thrilled that they had the chance to share this experience with us.”
After the Athens Olympic Games, World Swimming Week will be held in the Cayman Islands, October 12-17, 2004. World Swimming Week (WSW) will feature international swimming’s biggest names, including ‘friends of Cayman’, Tom Malchow and Neil Walker. These world-class athletes will compete with local and visiting swimmers in the Flowers Elite One Mile Sea Swim and Cayman Airways Sprint Meet. Swim teams from around the world are invited to participate in these events, as well as to participate in the swim coaches’ mini-conference, gala dinner with auction of Athens Olympic items, and invitational golf tournament. For further information on WSW, contact Joe Stasiuk by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).