The 8th annual Barbados Open Water Festival kicks off today, with Cameron Bellamy returning to Barbados as a special guest after inspiring the nation with his highly complex circumnavigation of the island in November last year. The event looks set to attract large numbers of swimmers of all ages and abilities both from Barbados and thirty-five other countries.
The South African’s epic swim around the island last year has provided “a brilliant boost for swimmers in Barbados,” says Kristina Evelyn, who has worked hard to put the Barbados Open Water Festival on the global map.
“For an island where a large percentage of residents can’t swim, the epic swim generated much intrigue. Many former swimmers returned to swimming inspired by the event, and it’s safe to say that many others had their fears of swimming in the sea allayed as they watched the swim unfold.”
The event is popular amongst open water swimmers across the world for its warm, calm waters, stunning visibility and wildlife. It will run until 10th November, starting with three days of practice swims followed by two days of races at distances of 1.5k, 3.3k, 5k and 10k.
Amongst the competitors taking part in the event is three-time Olympian Steph Horner, a Pan Am medallist and the first Canadian woman to win an Open Water World Cup Event, who will participate in the 1.5k and 10k races.
Joining her in what has been dubbed the ‘Year of the Canadians’, Mark Perry, Swimming Canada’s Distance/ Open Water Coach, will accompany twenty-four open water swimmers hailing from all across Canada in what will be the FreeStyle Experience group’s fourth visit to the event.
Jaimie Monahan, two-time Guinness World Record holding ultramarathon and ice swimmer, will also join Cameron Bellamy as a special guest.
The event will include professional timing by Sportstats, a festival beach party atmosphere with live steel pan music on the beach, unique redesigned commemorative finisher medals, winner medals in multiple age categories and numerous random prizes.
As well as the range of competitive events, there will also be just-for-fun swims and post-swim dinners which will raise funds for Variety: The Children’s Charity.