Olympians Highlight Gorgeous Open Water Flower Sea Swim in Cayman Islands

By Steven Munatones at Open Water Swimming

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With 882 people lined up at the start of the 21st annual Flowers Sea Swim, it was undoubtedly going to a fast 1-mile swim down Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island.

The elite athletes had to get a jump on the hundreds of swimmers around them. Plus, the top women were bunched up with the men at the start, so there was a lot of incentive to start the mile race with a sprint.

Brooke Bennett, the 3-time Olympic gold medalist who trains with Rebecca Mann in Florida, got off to a great start and took off with the top men, trailing by just a sliver.

Canadian Olympian Zsofia Balazs and 2012 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim silver medalist Haley Anderson took off after Bennett. There was no let-up in the pace and the two younger Olympians took chase to Bennett.

“I finally saw her after halfway,” recalled Balazs who was testing out her new tech suit for the upcoming World Championship. “Brooke was with the lead group of guys, but I was not sure where the finish was. I just followed their whitewater and continued to swim as fast as possible following them towards the finish.”

The duo gradually came up and slowly edged passed Bennett to make it a three-person race. But the Canadian still had a lot in the tank. Balazs opened up a body-length lead, but she was still nervous. “I just didn't want [the bikini-clad] Haley to go to her sprint like she did in the Olympics.

Instead Balazs answered Haley's kick with a furious kick of her own. The Hungarian emigrant to Canada who just finished her university studies to become a police officer crossed the finish with a huge relief and a big smile.

See more at dailynews.openwaterswimming.com

The final results of the Top 4 women:

1. Zsofia Balas (Canada) 17:49.95
2. Haley Anderson (USA) 17:52.42
3. Brooke Bennett (USA) 17:54
4. Luane Rowe (Australia) 18:52

This year was the most competitive race of the 21 years of the Flowers Sea Swim history. With Joey Pedraza trying to avenge his second-place finish in 2012, the Florida resident played his cards right in 2013.

But he ran into a young contingent from Team Santa Monica, led by Jordan Wilimovsky, Brendan Casey, and Scott Simmer.

The quartet shot out right from the start. Wilimovsky took the early lead while veteran Pedraza calmly followed the group of teenagers from Santa Monica, California. Wilimovsky held the lead nearly to the finish until Pedraza pulled along side, even though he had been boxed in earlier.

As the foursome entered the finish chute with less than 50 meters to go, Pedraza veered over to the left ahead of Wilimovsky. “They boxed me in earlier, so I moved into position [maintaining my edge].” As Pedraza angled into Wilimovsky driving him away from the finish line, Wilimovsky tried a last-ditch cross-over move. Wilimovsky smoothly moved over the hips of Pedraza, but Pedraza anticipated his tactic, kept him in his sights, and maintained a one-stroke lead. Into the finish the rivals barreled together, but Pedraza just reached past the finish over the outstretched Wilimovsky in a finish that entertained the crowd.

See more at dailynews.openwaterswimming.com

The final results of the top 4 men:

1. Joey Pedraza 16:52″45
2. Jordan Wilimovsky 16:52.86
3. Brendan Casey 16:55.89
4. Scott Simmer 16:59.83

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