"OMG, we had fun. Fantastic event, well organised, wonderful beach, beautiful blue water, great for swimming. A brilliant event, best Open Water event in the Caribbean."
Its difficult to adequately describe in words the heart warming camaraderie when open water swimmers get together. Its witnessed annually at the Barbados Open Water Festival when a diverse mix of swimmers of all ages and abilities arrive from all over the world and five days of “fun and fabulous” begins! As Rachel (who classed her group as “completors” not “competers”!) from the UK wrote, “We met some great people from the UK in our most exotic swim destination yet who we will be meeting up to swim in their local river and and they will join us for a sea swimming initiation, that’s what its all about”. Ocean Junction.com recently described the event as "one of the most vibrant open water events to take place in the Western Hemisphere - a must-attend for open water enthusiasts!"
Hundreds took part in the “social swims” and the four races (1.5K, 3.3K, 5K and 10K races) as well as the Charity Fun Swim over the five-day event in November 2018. A large percentage of the visitors came from the USA, Canada and the UK while the first swimmers were welcomed from Wales, Switzerland, Argentina, Singapore, South Africa and Nicaragua.
The 7th annual Festival also featured the historic start of the successful 96K swim around Barbados by Cameron Bellamy of South Africa (pictured). It was his second attempt in 8 weeks and to the delight of scores who saw the start and tracked his progress he completed the swim and incredible 40 hours and 46 minutes later.
The Festival "upped its game" in 2018 with the introduction of professional timing by Sportstats, newly designed finisher medals and live steel pan music ahead of the starts on race days.
There were several standout performances at the 2018 event. Nikoli Blackman of Trinidad (pictured centre on podium) roared to victory in both the 1.5K and 5K races. Ceri Edwards, the 2017 UK Masters champ over 1.5K had an impressive win in the ladies field and second overall in the 1.5K and came back the following day to win the Ladies 10K. Former Canadian competitive swimmer and 2011 World Championship Bronze medallist Martha McCabe cruised home in the 3.3K while another Canadian, 14 year old Ethan Campbell topped the Men’s field in that race. Teenager Carolyn Pennington of New York claimed the Ladies 5K. In the 10K, the men’s race was all-Barbadian affair with Nkosi Dunwoody taking first but followed by fellow Barbadians: Diego Dulieu, McCallum Clarke and Christopher Pollard.
Other local swimmers with excellent performances were Eric Lashley (2nd Male 1.5K and 5K), Adia Deane and Kenyah Deane (2nd & 3rd Ladies 3.3K), Bret Messiah (3rd male 3.3K) and Danielle Clarke/Keilani Talma (2nd/3rd) Ladies 5K.
Dennis Vanderheiden and "Athletes in Tandem" deserves recognition for attending the Festival for the second time and allowing two differently abled Barbadian athletes the opportunity to take part in the swim races.
Special awards recognized achievements by local swimmers: Rick Peters won the Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy for the first local Masters swimmer in the 5K and Nkosi Dunwoody copped the Chris & Peter Gibbs Trophy for his win in the 10K.
As usual many willing volunteers, including several from charity partner: Variety - The Children's Charity came out to check in swimmers, mark numbers, kayak, hand out refreshments at the finish line, work the feeding station for the 10K and distribute medals. A special mention for the kayakers who braved the squall that passed during the 5K/10K!
The event would not be possible without the support of sponsors such as title sponsor: ANSA Rentals and other sponsors: Vorgee, Chefette Restaurants, Tourism Development Corporation, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Powerade, Dasani, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and CGM Gallagher. 2019 event is scheduled for Nov 6-10.
See all results for the Barbados Open Water Festival HERE