In the wake of George Floyd’s death, student athletes from multiple universities and institutions around the US walked, ran, biked and, or swam 8.46 miles on Monday 8 June to raise money and awareness for Black Lives Matter.
In Cayman, overseas Camana Bay Aquatics Club swimmers Lauren Hew, Audrey Weber and Sabine Ellison supported the cause and encourage anybody who can to go on line and make a donation – with donations going directly to Black Lives Matter, a nationwide organisation that actively fights against the injustices and inequalities that Black Americans have endured for over 400 years.
The fundraiser was designed by the USCB women’s soccer team, in which they would run 8.46 miles to signify the 8:46 minutes former Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck, as Floyd struggled to say “I can’t breathe”. UCSB decided to make a GoFundMe and open the fundraiser to all collegiate athletes, as well as anyone else who would like to help.
Lauren Hew, a Cayman Islands National Senior Swimmer started at Governor’s Beach – ran 1 mile on West Bay Road, biked 6.46 miles to West Bay and back to Governor’s Beach and then swam 1 mile from Governor’s beach to Public Beach.
Lauren shared her feeling on the initiative, explaining why she took part: “The fundraiser was put together by some athletes from the UCSB soccer team. In the wake of the recent injustices that have taken place in society, student athletes from multiple universities and institutions around the nation joined by walking, running, biking, and, or swimming 8.46 miles to raise money and awareness for Black Lives Matter. Student athletes are often in the spotlight so I think it is important for us to use our voices to bring awareness to these injustices and support members of the black community, beyond just posting on social media. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, listen, and fight alongside them.”
Audrey talked about her decision to take part and how much it meant to her personally: “After I sent a message to the Oberlin College swim and dive team (where I am committed to swimming in the fall) they decided to take part in it as well. The goal was to get donations from family members and friends in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organisation in order to help combat racially charged police brutality, as well as many aspects of systemic racism in the US as a country. As an American living in Cayman, I have felt distanced from the BLM movement despite my passion for it, so I really wanted to find a way to support it from home. Sabine Ellison, Mikayla Corin, Holly Stradling and I ran 1.46 miles, swam 1 mile, walked 1 mile and cycled 5 miles to get to the goal of 8.46 miles. As I write this, the GoFundMe is at $78,000 but it seems each time I check it rises drastically.”
Sabine rounded out the discussion with her thoughts in the wake of George Floyd’s death: “the reality of police brutality and racial injustices both in America and across the globe have been brought to light. I chose to run, swim and bike 8.46 miles alongside my friends to represent the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, as an act of solidarity to express my support for the BLM movement. It is crucial that we are all aware of the inequality and injustice in our world. I would like to encourage everyone to actively seek out ways to support this movement such as educating yourself on racial inequality, reflecting on your own ideas regarding race, signing petitions and donating to the various organisations who fight against these racial injustices. I applaud all the different ways in which the global community has united against racial injustices and hope that this momentum continues, resulting in concrete change in our world. Let’s spread love not hate.”
Lauren was joined in her 8.46 miles by her biggest fan – Mom, Sandy Hew; and Audrey and Sabine were joined by former CBAC teammates Holly Stradling and Mikayla Corin.
“We are so proud of our athletes,” said CIASA President Michael Lockwood. “Standing in solidarity with athletes from across the US, raising money for Black Lives Matter and the important work they are doing is something which takes courage and strength. Lauren, Audrey, Sabine, Holly and Mikayla - thank you for taking positive action in the fight against police brutality and racial injustice.”
In Cayman, in addition to being a competitive sport, swimming is a life-saving skill and one which CIASA believes should be available to every Cayman Islands’ resident. A 50-meter pool will go a long way to making this a reality as the increased pool space will increase the capacity for learn-to-swim lessons to take place. What’s up next for these, and all of Cayman’s swimmers? Training in the pool again when they are safely opened with social distancing protocols and guide lines in place. For more information on CIASA visit www.ciasa.ky or contact Kathy Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org