The organisers of the Barbados Open Water Festival (BOWF) say they have received numerous queries from swimmers regarding the damage received to the island following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated parts of the Caribbean this summer, including Dominica, Barbuda, Tortola and Puerto Rico.
However, the worries are unfounded as Barbados escaped unscathed. The festival, scheduled for 1 to 5 November, will go ahead as planned, and the organisers will be arranging a collection of donations from participants to go towards relief efforts in the worst affected islands.
BOWF organizer Kristina Evelyn says that Barbados has been very fortunate for many years and has not experienced a major hurricane since 1955. One of the reasons for this is geographic location as Barbados is located further south than many of the islands that have been repeatedly affected and is said to lie outside of the hurricane belt. She suspects that some people heard reports that the small island of Barbuda had been hit and possibly confused it with Barbados or assumed it was nearby rather than more than 500km to the north.
Evelyn goes on to say: “We are indeed grateful in Barbados. Many islands nearby are suffering in the aftermath and residents of Barbados recognise their need. There has been an outpouring of support from Barbadian citizens and companies who have been donating supplies, money, equipment and time as items are collected, packed and shipped, especially to the nearest affected island of Dominica.”
To support these efforts, the Festival will provide an avenue for swimmers to make a monetary donation at the registration desk. Following the Festival, a reliable charitable organization will be identified and all proceeds from swimmers and a contribution from the Festival will be forwarded to them. Additionally, the Festival will ascertain what food and medical items are still urgently needed in November and provide a collection point at the swim venue for such items.
The Barbados Open Water Festival is now in its sixth year and entries have been received from North & South America, Europe and across the Caribbean. The expanded Festival is now offering four distances: 1.5K, 3.3K, 5K and 10K, as well as three days of practice swims ahead of the competitive races.
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