With the youngest participant aged just 7 and the oldest 86, and with a couple of world class swimmers thrown into the mix, the organisers had their work cut out to ensure a challenging event for all abilities. At the novice end was an untimed “Just for Fun” swim, which supported a local children’s charity. For the more competitive there was a 1.5k swim followed the next day by a 5k swim. Many participants chose to do both.
In the men’s 5k, defending champion and US Olympian Alex Meyer lined up against the 2014 World Junior open water champion Taylor Abbott, also of the USA. The two raced neck and neck for much of the race, closely pursued by previous winner Christian Marsden of Trinidad. Meyer put in a sprint towards the end and opened a significant 16 second gap on Abbott. However, unfortunately for Meyer, he mistook a course buoy for a marker buoy and passed by it on the wrong side, which meant disqualification so the prize went to Abbott who finished in 57:16:01.
Gracious in defeat, Meyer says he’d “love to come back in 2016” adding that Barbados allows him to continue training at the island’s Aquatic Centre while enjoying a vacation and a high level competition.
Marsden, finished third a minute behind Abbott but was promoted to second following Meyer’s disqualification.
In the women’s 5k race, former professional triathlete and US champion masters swimmer Eney Jones snatched the top spot, followed by Rebecca Lashley of Barbados. Jones and Lashley also finished second and third in the 1.5k, where they were narrowly beaten by McKayla Treasure, who covered the distance in 20:15.23.
In the men’s 1.5k, Abbott enjoyed a convincing win, finishing in 17:41.81 with young Barbadian National swimmers Luis Weekes (18:27.57) in second and Kobi Talma (18:49.32) in third.
Away from the sharp end of the field, the event drew swimmers of a wide range of abilities from around the world including visitors from the USA, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, France, Czech Republic, Belgium and a 12-member team from Melbourne, Australia. The latter including Dorothy Dickey who is the 800m world record holder in the 85-89 age group.
The organisers are now considering adding a 10k event for the 2016 Barbados Open Water Festival, which is scheduled for 5-6 November next year.
By Simon Griffiths | H2Open Editor