SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2017 Daily News of Open Water Swimming Courtesy of Kristina Evelyn, Carlisle Bay, Barbados.
David Heron and Taylor Abbott dominated the 1.5 km and 5 km swims at the 6th Barbados Open Water Festival last weekend. while Pan American double medalist Chelsea Colwill was in a league of her own over the 1.5 km and 10 km distance and Olympic medalist Ashley Whitney was victorious in the women's 5 km race.
Trinidadians Nikoli Blackman and Savannah Chee-Wah won the 3.3 km race and Canadian Taylor Parker defended his 2016
10 km victory.
Heron and Abbott – distance freestyle teammates at the University of Tennessee who are training to follow in the footsteps of their retired Olympian and world champion Alex Meyer - set the pace in both the 1.5 km and 5 km races, but American 5 km champion Heron edged out the younger Abbott - the 2014 world junior world champion - for the wins in both events. 24-year-old Heron set a new course record for the 1.5 km with a 17:14 swim and the pair provided another close race in the 5 km.
Heron had a faster swim-to-shore transitionas they both emerged from the water and then raced up the beach to the finish. Barbados’ Olympic triathlete Jason Wilsontried to stay with the two in the lead pack, but was unable to keep up as he settled for third place. Junior competitive Barbadian swimmer, Nkosi Dunwoody, was fourth.
29-year-old Colwill set new course records in both the 1.5 km in 18:17 and 10 km races in 2 hours 14 minutes.
12-year-old Nikoli Blackman of Trinidad shared some of the limelight with the Olympians when he finished third in the 1.5 km behind older collegiate swimmers and easily won the 3.3 km race.
The Barbados Open Water Festival was celebrating its sixth event this past weekend with 597 swimmers from 17 countries over four distances in Carlisle Bay.
Co-event director Kristina Evelyn explained, "Swimmers arrived from England, Canada, Wales, Poland, Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Brazil, Australia, United States, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Netherlands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Antigua and Barbados.
The competitive races segment of the 5-day event opened Saturday morning with 336 swimmers completing the 1.5 km swim in the Bay. 60 of them opted for a Fun Swim supporting The Variety Club of Barbados. On the second day, 246 swimmers competed in 3.3 km (84 swimmers), 5 km (119 swimmers) and the 10 km marathon swim (43 swimmers)."
Husband and co-director Zary Evelyn added, "Swimmers ranged in age from 6 to over 75 years old. It was a wonderful mix of ages, abilities and nationalities. We had Olympians, a junior world champion, masters swimming champions, competitive junior swimmers, elite swimmers, club champions, triathletes, water polo players, recreational swimmers, novice swimmers, pool swimmers, lake swimmers and sea swimmers. Many of the swimmers take part in the practice swims and casual dinners in the days ahead of event and this adds a wonderful social element with many new friendships being made at the Festival every year.
There are many regulars at the Barbados Open Water Festival, several swimmers have been visiting for the past five years including the popular Jersey Girls. This informal group of energetic ladies is led by Susan Kirk and Sarah Clark, passionate open water swimmers, who first visited Barbados years ago and now bring up to 25 swimmers with their group."
John Corcoran of Thunder Bay, Ontario is another regular overseas visitor to Barbardos. He swam his first career 10 km marathon swim on his fifth visit.
Dominika Jamnicky, a professional Canadian triathlete, took second in both the women's 1.5 km and 5 km races. Canadian Olympians Katie Brambley and Tera van Beilen (4th in 10 km race). Retired professional triathlete Eney Jones and 45-year-old Alison Hayden (2nd in 10 km) were also in attendance.
Ubiquitous masters swimmer Bill Ireland made his first appearance in Barbados, finishing sixth in the 3.3 km.
Two special awards were handed out to Barbadian swimmers over the weekend. The Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy was won for the third time by Rick Peters who was the fastest Barbadian masters swimmer in the 5 km.
A strong swim by 22-year-old Barbadian Simon Wilkie earned him third place in the men’s 10 km marathon swim and won the coveted Chris & Peter Gibbs Trophy for the first Barbadian in that race.
Kristina and Zary Evelyn acknowledged that Barbados was very fortunate in 2017 to have been spared by two Category 5 Hurricanes that caused total devastation in many other islands. During the Festival a collection of money, non-perishable foods, medical supplies and toiletries was made and donated towards a group helping with the relief effort in nearby Dominica.