Splashing through the Flowers Sea Swim

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Tips for a safe swim 

It is not often that world class swimmers find themselves distracted by passing turtles and tropical fish while competing in a race, especially not one where they find themselves sharing the water with 800 other swimmers.

Yet this is exactly what makes the Flowers Sea Swim such a special event, and one that has been recognised as among the greatest open water swims in the world.

As the longest running uninterrupted sea swim in the Cayman Islands (the 2004 edition predated hurricane Ivan while the 2005 Recovery Mile served as a reminder of how far the Cayman Islands had come in recovering from the disaster) the event started when Frank Flowers, who took up swimming when his knees put an end to his running career, decided to put on a swimming event like no other.

He has certainly succeeded, with the Flowers Sea Swim being credited as one of the events that helped shape the format of the open water swimming competition in the Olympics.

It is therefore very fitting that the event will once again boast a stellar field of invited athletes, with numerous Olympic medallists and former world record holders taking part.

The likes of Gary Hall Junior, Gary Hall Senior, Rada Owen, Kaitlin Sandeno, BJ Bedford and open water legend Penny Palfrey along with husband Chris. Of course, with this being an Olympic year, all the Olympians taking part are now retired from Olympic competition.

The event will also feature a world record holder of a different kind – Italian swimmer Paolo Cerizzi, a long distance butterfly swimmer who holds the world record for the longest handcuffed swim.

He will attempt to complete the Flowers sea swim with cuffs on his hands as well as on his feat, and if he completes the swim it will be a new world record for that type of swim.

This should also serve as motivation for anyone doubtful whether they could complete the swim within the 75 minute cut-off time – if a man in handcuffs can do it, so can you!

One of the greatest attractions of the event, at least from the point of view of those not in the running to set a new world record, is the long list of great random prizes.

This year, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the event, the prizes will be even better, with participants having a one in four chance of winning a random prize. And these are quite some prizes – how about 40 airline tickets to locations around the globe?

Entries for the event are capped at 800 swimmers, as the organisers want to maintain the exemplary safety record of the event, as well as the very high ration of volunteers to participants.

There are also numerous doctors and medical technicians out on the course to render assistance should any of the swimmers find themselves in difficulty.

Entries are already open through the event website, flowersseaswim.com, and will close as soon as the 800 swimmer limit is reached, or on Wednesday 6 June, whichever comes first.

The swim will start from the beach at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, with the finish line at either Royal Palms or Tiki Beach, depending on the direction of the current on race day, with the finish venue being determined the day before the race.

An important element of the event is that all registration proceeds go to a charity each year, with Feed Our Future Cayman being the beneficiary this year. The charity aims to provide school lunches for children who would not otherwise have access to a nutritious meals.

Sponsors are the Flowers Company, Cayman Airways, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sport & Culture, Digicel, Cayman National, CUC, Caymanian Compass and HOT FM.

 

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Ron Shillingford