American Alex Meyer enjoyed swimming in Barbados so much last year that he’s returning on November 7 and 8 to defend his title at the 2015 Swim Barbados Open Water Festival.
In fact, despite Meyer’s impressive open water credentials (former world champion, current US champion and recent silver medallist in Kazan) he said the local festival, which attracts recreational swimmers from around the world, was what open water swimming was all about.
This year the Barbados Open Water Festival will run over two days for the first time and features a 1.5k and 5k swim on separate days allowing the possibility for swimmers to do both. The organizers are expecting just over 250 swimmers, including a team from Australia and swimmers from the UK, Canada, US and the Caribbean.
The Rio Olympics-qualified triathlete Jason Wilson, who currently trains in Canada, has confirmed he will race in both events. Barbadian national team swimmers, junior swimmers, masters swimmers, triathletes and water polo players will be pitting their prowess and home sea advantage against the visitors. The Barbadian athletes held their own in 2014 with standout performances from Jack Kirby, Danielle Titus, Nicholas Hall and Alexis Clarke.
Christian Marsden, Trinidad and Tobago’s top open water swimmer and 2013 winner at the festival will have his work cut out for him contending with Meyer and former junior world open water champion Taylor Abbott of the USA in the 5K. Abbott, a highly talented swimmer in both the pool and open water, was a recent silver medallist in the 1500 free (15:16.35) at the 2015 World Junior Championships held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore. Abbott will swim both the 1.5K and the 5K and will be extremely difficult to beat over the 1.5K distance.
A host of well-known Barbadian veteran swimmers will be vying for age group titles in the Masters divisions from 25 and up to over-65. The Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy will be awarded for the second time to the first Barbadian masters finisher in the 5K race. The trophy was claimed by Rick Peters in 2014.
Special mention must be of Dorothy Dickey of Melbourne Australia, current world record holder in the 85-89 age group (800m) who will compete in the 1.5K race.
For those who prefer to enjoy the luxury of Carlisle Bay’s water at a more leisurely pace the 1.5k event can be swum “Just for Fun”, with proceeds going to charity (Variety: The Children’s Charity –– under the slogan, You Swim . . . They Win!) The Just For Fun Swim allows novice swimmers or swimmers who don’t want to race to be a part of the event. Just For Fun swimmers are allowed swim aids and their times are not recorded.
The two days of activities will include the customary high-energy kayak and stand-up paddle relay races as well. A wide range of generous prizes is on offer including luxury hotel stays, airline tickets, electronics and dining vouchers.
All events will start in front of Copacabana Beach Bar on Bay Street. Local swimmers can pick up entry forms at Free Style Kids Store at the Aquatic Centre while others may enter online. Competitors can learn more about any of the races or enter by visiting the web site at: http://www.swimbarbadosvacations.com. Entries close November 4.