US swimmer and Olympian Alex Meyer swam to a convincing victory in the 5km race of the third Barbados Open Water Festival last Sunday in Carlisle Bay. The 2010 25km open water world champion and current US national 5km champion finished in 55 minutes 51 seconds, a clear two minutes ahead of second place Taylor Abbott, the 2014 FINA world junior champion. Third place (and first female) went to Lindsay Vrooman, another US national swim team member and also a member of Badger Swim Club in New York.
Despite the presence of these swimming elites, the Barbados Open Water Festival is primarily an event for regular swimmers, who relish the opportunity to swim in the warm clear waters of Carlisle Bay as well as line up against the likes of Meyer. In total, 237 swimmers from multiple countries faced the starter to compete in the 1.5km and 5km races in the bay.
“We had perfect conditions for the swim,” says Kristina Evelyn, one of the organisers. “And special mention must be made of the two most mature competitors, the energetic Jane Asher, 83, an acclaimed masters swimmer of the UK and the soft-spoken Jerome Reid, 84, a Barbadian, who both completed the 1.5km event.”
The shorter event was dominated by Barbadian national junior swimmers with Jack Kirby and Danielle Titus claiming top honours in 19:22 and 19:31 respectively. However, the locals were squeezed off the top spots by visitors in the longer races. Nevertheless, Lexi Clark, the island’s top open water swimmer managed an impressive third behind Anina Lund, another member of New York’s Badger Swim Club.
The team from Badger Swim Club had further successes as Ian Bidwell took third in the Men’s 5km and Jack Collins was fourth. Trinidad’s Christian Marsden, the 2013 winner, performed well but had to settle for fifth position. In an exciting finish Marsden was two seconds behind Bidwell and a mere second behind Collins. A stand-out performance by Nicholas Hall of Barbados saw him narrowly miss a top five finish.
Winners received a variety of prizes in all of the 26 age categories (from 12 and under to 55 plus) from local and international sponsors including airline tickets, mobile phones, tablets, hotel stays and dining vouchers.
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