It is expected to be a great showdown when the 2014 Barbados Open Water Festival (BOWF) gets underway at Carlisle Bay on November 2.
Director of the BOWF, Zaryl Evelyn, told Barbados TODAY during the launch of the event held at Coconut Court Hotel this morning that organisers of the BOWF had every intention of making the sport one of the top tourism events in Barbados.
“Our five-year plan is to make this one of the top sports tourism events in Barbados and one of the better open water festivals in the world and we believe this is possible because we think we have one of the better venues for it in Carlisle Bay,” Evelyn said.
United States national 5km champion, Alex Meyer, who is also the 2010 world 25km swimming champion along with junior world champion, Taylor Abbott, will headline the Festival.
Evelyn said they would be seeking to make the sport into an annual event as long as they continued to receive the kind of support they were getting from corporate Barbados, the Barbados Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC), and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), which have helped to market the event all over the world.
There are about 250 swimmers participating this year and Barbados have a large contingent of open water swimmers of close to one hundred.
“We have entries from one hundred and thirty countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and several in the Caribbean. There is an increase in numbers this year with 225 swimmers compared to last year which had 180 swimmers.”
Prizes for the BOWF are mainly in the form of gifts worth in excess of $30,000 and range from airline tickets on Virgin Atlantic to London, airline tickets on JetBlue to New York and dinner for two at some of the top restaurants in Barbados, smart-phones and tablets from LIME.
Open water swimmers are basically people who prefer to swim in the sea rather than the pool and there is high hope for Barbados in the water. Last year 5K female winner, Alexis Clarke, and well known junior male open water swimmer, Kobi Thelma, are expected to do well, while master swimmers John Mike Peterkin, Chris Gibbs, Peter Gibbs, Andrew Corby and Allison Pile are also expected to put in a good showing.
The competition will commence around 9 a.m. with the 1.5km and 5km races, followed by the stand-up paddle relay races at 1 p.m. About 20 kayak teams will be competing with six persons on a team. To finish off the day’s proceedings, the Barbados Water Polo Association will stage an exhibition game at 2:30 p.m.
Persons wishing to get involved can also sign up at www.swimbarbadosvacations.com.