Three hundred and five swimmers converged on the spectacular Carlisle Bay in Barbados this past weekend for the fourth annual Barbados Open Water Festival. A wonderful mix of recreational swimmers, talented junior swimmers and highly competitive Masters’ swimmers lined up with a few elite athletes in the 1.5K and 5K races. A “Just For Fun” swim for a children’s charity attracted additional novice swimmers.
In the Ladies 1.5K race McKayla Treasure (20:15.23), a National Junior swimmer just barely edged out US National Champion Masters swimmer and former professional triathlete Eney Jones (20:18.75) of the US for the top spot but the evergreen Jones returned the next day and clinched victory in the 5K. Rebecca Lashley of Barbados was a consistent performer achieving third in the 1.5K and second in the 5K.
Masters swimmers with impressive resumes such as British Masters Champion Stuart McLellan and American Darcy LeFountain (Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Masters), owner of six US Masters titles, enjoyed success in their relevant age groupings.
Co-Director for the event Kristina Evelyn noted that the Festival is growing each year and added that while the winners are the ones reported there were many who were accomplishing personal bests, swimming for causes or overcoming barriers such as swimming their first race in the sea. Every year there are heart-warming stories such as Suzannah Fullagar of the UK who swam the 5K to raise funds and awareness for the “Mane Chance Sanctuary” a UK charity that rescues abandoned horses and works with kids with life limiting illnesses. Another visiting swimmer Dennis Vanderheiden undertook both races pulling a Barbadian paralympic athlete in a boat behind him. Evelyn said there were some groups who have returned several times such as the Berkley Aquatic Masters from New Jersey (who have already booked their 2016 stay) and a growing number of swimmers from L.O.S.T (Lake Ontario Swim Team).
Evelyn said the organisers had received extremely positive feedback about 2015 and were already planning the 2016 event at which a 10K race is under consideration. She added that comments on social media such as “swims were beyond expectations”, “what a total blast it was in Barbados”, “as I leave Barbados I am just in bliss reflecting on the amazing people I met” and “love this awesome swim event” are music to an organiser’s ears.
The 2016 Barbados Open Water Festival is scheduled for November 5-6, 2016.
By Swim Swam