CARLISLE BAY, Barbados, August 6. RICK Peters and Alexis Jordan claimed the top spots in the 5 km swim race while Eric Taylor and Claudia Peichl were the fastest in the 1.5 km race when the inaugural Barbados Open Water Festival was held July 6 in Carlisle Bay. It was a perfect day in the spectacular and historic Bay when 110 swimmers from 13 countries entered the water at about 9 am. A full day of water-sport activity followed the swims with 80 local kayakers, 55 local paddlers and 32 local water polo players taking to the sea at this new festival on the Barbados sporting calendar.
Swimmers, male and female, ranging in age from 8 years old to sixty-nine years old competed in 1.5km and 5km races as well as a “Just for Fun” swim across Carlisle Bay. They swam a loop stretching from the south end of the Esplanade to the Boatyard pier and back. Conditions for swimming were ideal with no wind, placid crystal clear water and lots of sunshine. This new initiative backed by the Tourism Development Corporation will be hosted again in October this year and once annually going forward. The open-water swimming enthusiasts competed for a wide variety of prizes in several age categories from Under 12 to Over 55 years. Prizes for the various categories included dining vouchers at the islands finest restaurants, stays at beachfront hotels, smart phones, day cruises, tickets to island attractions, Barbados rum and much more.
Masters Swimmer Rick Peters set a scorching pace in an exciting Men’s 5 km event, barely edging out 16 year old Simon Wilkie by a mere 8 seconds. Wilkie had an excellent swim to finish second and resident Cuban swim coach Nelson Fernandez was third overall in the 5 km race. Well-known veteran open water swimmers Chris Gibbs and brother Peter Gibbs battled it out in the Men’s 55 and Over 5 km event with Chris taking the top position in this category. Former Barbadian Olympian breast-stroker Andrei Cross was also in the 5km action finishing second in his age grouping. The Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes, the Flying Fish Masters Swim Club and the Barbados Water Polo Club swimmers had good showings with several of their members walking away with prizes.
Junior swimmers performed well overall with 9 year old Eric Lashley swimming his heart out to win the Boys 12 and under 1.5 km race in 25 minutes 41 seconds and Kristiana Ram of Saltwater Swimmers winning the girls equivalent in 28 minutes 5 seconds. Shannon Gibson, also of Saltwater Swimmers produced a strong swim to win the Girls 13-17 category in 26 minutes 30 seconds.
Local radio personality Alex Jordan and a popular DJ kept the day lively while the Barbados Sea Turtle Project members entertained kids with fun quizzes and giveaways. Spectators were delighted by the events and had the opportunity to take part in a fun fitness challenge by the islands’ newest cross fit gym and relax on the beach.
The Festival drew several international swimmers of all levels from many countries including Trinidad, St. Vincent, Canada, Sweden, The Netherlands, England, Ireland, Poland, Columbia, Venezuela, Hong Kong and Australia. Visiting swimmers provided the local swimmers with challenges in some age groups with Kamil Klamann of Poland winning the Men’s 25-34 age group in the 5km race, Osman Pulgar of Venezuela took second in the Mens 45-54 age group in the 5 km while Shastri Roberts of Trinidad was third in the 35-44 age group of the 5 km race. In the 1.5 km race Ciaran O’Connor of Cork, Ireland was second and Stephen Joachim of St Vincent was third in the Mens’ 45-54 age group.
The non-stop action continued after the swimming with fast paced relay races between stand-up paddlers and then kayakers. Fourteen local teams took part in the stand-up paddling and twelve teams competed in the Kayak event. Competition was intense in the Kayak relays with fast paced teams led by Olympic wind-surfer Oneil Marshall, Olympic swimmer Nicky Neckles, Caribbean champion golfer James Johnson and other enthusiasts. The thrilling day of water sports activities culminated with an energetic water polo match in the sea between two top Barbadian teams.
Organiser of the event Zary Evelyn indicated that the next event would take place in the same location on October 27th, 2013. He noted that the October event was being heavily promoted overseas and an even greater number of International entries were expected. Participants can again expect excellent swimming conditions, great prizes, warm hospitality, SUP and Kayak, beach barbeque and much more. Entries are being accepted for the next event at https://www.swimbarbadosvacations.com.
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