World Champion Alex Meyer Wins Barbados Open Water Festival

BARBADOS – World champion Alex Meyer swam to victory in the 5km race of the 3rd Barbados Open Water Festival on Sunday in Carlisle Bay. The 2010 World Champion (25 km) and current US National 5km champion, Meyer, finished in 55 minutes 51 seconds and was never threatened by Taylor Abbott, the 2014 FINA World Junior Champion who completed the race in 57 minutes 46 seconds. The talented young Abbott gave a spirited performance but was no match for the speedy and more experienced Meyer.

Despite the presence of these swimming elites, the Barbados Open Water Festival is primarily an event for regular swimmers, who relish the opportunity to swim in the warm clear waters of Carlisle Bay as well as line up against the likes of Meyer. In total, 237 swimmers from multiple countries faced the starter to compete in the 1.5km and 5km races in the bay. A crowd of spectators gathered to witness this historic event that saw two open water world champions and other accomplished open water swimmers competing in the magnificent Carlisle Bay. Meyer, whose easy-going personality and quiet confidence had already earned him fans in the local swim community erupted from the water and calmly walked up the beach to the finish arch amid boisterous applause and cheering from all in attendance.

Lindsay Vrooman, US National Swim Team member and member of Badger Swim Club in New York, had an outstanding swim to place third overall and first in the Ladies 5km event (58 minutes, 15 seconds). Vrooman’s club mate Anina Lund was second in the 5km race in 1:02:34 ahead of Barbados’ top female open water swimmer Lexi Clark (1:02:46) who finished a highly creditable third. Former professional triathlete, Eney Jones, was fourth and US Masters Swimmer Christina Cairns was fifth.

The team from Badger Swim Club had other successes as Ian Bidwell took third in the Mens 5km (58:19) and Jack Collins was fourth (58:20). Trinidad’s Christian Marsden, the 2013 winner, performed well but had to settle for fifth position (58:21). In an exciting finish Marsden was two seconds behind Bidwell and a mere second behind Collins. A stand out performance by Nicholas Hall of Barbados saw him narrowly miss a top five finish (58:22).

The local swim fraternity has much to be proud about with the standings in the 1.5km race. The 1.5km events were dominated by Barbadian National Junior Swimmers with Jack Kirby and Danielle Titus claiming top honours in 19:22 and 19:31 respectively. In the Mens event Jack Kirby was closely followed by Jonathan Manning, Nkosi Dunwoody and Simon Wilkie of Barbados with Ed Tsuzuki, a US Masters Swimmer, claiming fifth position. On the Ladies side, Rebecca Lashley and Ashley Weekes of Barbados were second and third respectively, Izabella Bors (UK) was fourth and Keilani Talma (Bdos) rounded out the top five.

“We had perfect conditions for the swim,” said Kristina Evelyn, one of the organizers. “And special mention must be made of the two most mature competitors, the energetic Jane Asher, 83, an acclaimed masters swimmer of the UK and the soft-spoken Jerome Reid, 84, a Barbadian, who both completed the 1.5km event.”

Winners received a variety of prizes in all of the 26 age categories from 12 and Under to 55+ from local and international sponsors including airline tickets, cel phones, tablets, hotel stays and dining vouchers. The three youngest competitors (7 years old) were awarded prizes as was the Parker Family of Canada who had five family members in the race.

This third Barbados event saw a rapid growth in the number of competitors and the level of competition. The wide range of ages, abilities and nationalities (USA, UK, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Grenada, St Vincent & Antigua) made for an interesting and intriguing event for all. Several of the 2013 swimmers returned from the US and Canada. Local swimmers benefitted from an open water clinic hosted by Alex Meyer the day before the event. New friendships and lasting memories were made during a day enjoyed by all. The 2015 event is tentatively planned for November 8th.

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