By Christopher Tobutt
Nearly 500 swimmers took part in the 30TH Flowers Sea Swim on Saturday 11 June, churning the bright blue sea of Seven Mile Beach into tiny white diamonds of white spray glinting in the afternoon sun. The 1 Mille between Coral Beach and the Ritz Carlton was finished by three young swimmers, 15-year-old Dominic Hilton, 18-year-old Jake Bailey, and 16-year-old Harper Barrowman, with Dominic and Jake tying for first place at an amazingly fast 20 minutes 45.21 seconds, and Harper not more than one second behind
Dominic said, “I really didn’t think I was going to win I thought I was in tenth place but I pushed hard the last hundred meters, and all the training paid off.” Harper said, that typically she preferred “200m to 800m” so that one mile was a good deal out of her comfort zone, but she still managed to become the first female over the finish line. Amazing.
A mother and daughter duo had a lot of fun taking part. Andrea Kilam-Higgo said, “I’ve been doing this every single year. I took it easy today and I felt great.” Daughter, Lila Higgo, 15 said, “I came 20th. I was really happy. It’s a good race and it’s a fun thing to do every year.” Their friend, Kate Meyers-Labanz said, “I enjoyed it because the water’s clear, and its really pretty.”
When everyone had got their breath back it was time for the presentations, at the Westin Hotel. Frank Flowers, the man who started it all off 30 years ago after learning to swim just one year short of his 40th birthday, said, “Really the support has been overwhelming, and continuously growing. The most difficult part has always been to get up and speak to the crowd,” he said, “I always leave, thinking that perhaps I did not express my warmest and sincerest gratitude to the volunteers, swimmers, my family and last but not least the sponsors. Thank God for his blessings on us and keeping everyone safe.”
Mr Flowers had an incredibly exciting announcement to make. a new Lean to Swim program for Cayman’s primary school children, so that over the next ten years, all of them will learn to swim. “We will have the first mobile pool in the world, and once it gets going we hope to expand it globally.” He said. The Flowers family and YMCA have announced a partnership to introduce the new program. Every year the Sea Swim raises thousands for charity, and this year’s recipient is the YMCA.
His Excellency the Governor took part in the swim, coming third in his age-category. I just want to pay huge tribute to the Flowers family, Frank, and everybody associated with Flowers because this has become an incredible institution in our islands over the last 30 years, and people say that it is one of the top ten open water sea swims anywhere. I and I would say it’s the best anywhere in the world.” He said.
Deputy Premier Hon Chris Saunders said, “This government we actually created the Ministry of Sustainability and CLIMATE change, and that’s important, because when you want to do an event like this for 30 years its important that we take steps to preserve this very beach to make sure that 30 40 or 50 years from now, this event can actually continue.”