The second Saint Lucia Channel Swim/ Open Week event has being dubbed a huge success by the local organizers; the week leading to the major event was designed to bring out the various elements of open water swimming in Saint Lucia. The organizers of Saint Lucia Channel Swim put together a week of various clinics, trainings, and races that culminated with attempts to swim across the channel from Saint Lucia to Martinique.
Philip Rush, a world renowned open water swimmer, coach, and mentor assisted the organizers with facilitation of a variety of events. He was also on deck at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre to work with swimmers from the Sea Jays Swim Club on a variety of open water skills.
During the initial session, Rush advised Sea Jays President Robert Blanchard, when he said, “There’s much talent in the water. We need to harness their abilities and encourage them to continue. I am excited in seeing the growth of some of the swimmers from 2018.”
Preparing for both the open water races and the channel crossing attempts, a number of captains from the various support boats met with Saint Lucia Channel Swim organizers and Rush at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s office, for a training and briefing of what to expect.
Rush imparted his keen knowledge and expertise in piloting a swimmer to shore. Working together, the various entities created a plan to successfully assist all the swimmers across.
With the arrival of the channel swimmers, solo swimmers and open water enthusiasts, Saint Lucia also had visitors from the USA, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Martinique and Barbados, for the events.
The solo swimmers – Kevin Pollman and Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist, along with Katie Dwyer and David Bergquist, met Philip Rush and the local relay team on the beach at Smugglers Cove for some much needed training and guidance. The local relay team which comprised Vanessa Eugene, Monique Devaux-Lovell, Rodja Constantine, and newcomer Joshua Adjodha – relished in the information and experience of Philip Rush.
During the morning session, adults participating in the various events and coaches from local organizations joined Rush to listen to his experience and suggestions, and took to the water for some active training. With participants from the six countries asking questions and testing Rush’s knowledge, the group left enamored and well prepared for the main event.
The afternoon also saw some 35 children of various ages joining Rush on the beach for a variety of training techniques including buoy turns, sitting, and group swimming.
Skills learned were put to the test on July 6th at the “Races” which include 1 Kilometer, 3 Kilometer, and 5 Kilometer events. A combined 28 swimmers registered from the USA, Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Barbados and host Saint Lucia.
Sydney Finer-St Rose from Rochester, New York, a long distance swimmer at the University of Cincinnati told the VOICE she enjoyed swimming with Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist during the clinics. Sydney took part in the 3K race as well, placing first overall.
Local swimmers Caitlin Polius and Shaquil Flavius, both of Sea Jays Swim Club, participated and placed in the top 3 for the 1K and 3K event.
Christian Jones from Trinidad, an avid swimmer, came to Saint Lucia with his wife specifically to participate in the clinics and races. Jones said, “I will be sure to share the details of the warm, friendly atmosphere this event has.”
Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist and Kevin Pollman used the 3K as a warm up for their attempts to swim across the channel on Sunday, July 7th.
This year’s events were supported by a number of sponsors to include Cap Maison, Events Company Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, FLOW, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Tourism, Bay Gardens Resorts, Greening the Caribbean, Saint Lucia Yacht Club, Moorings, Adventure Tours, Real Foods/KFC, and NatraPure.
Patrick Mathurin, Director of Sports, was very pleased by the turnout especially the participation from various countries in the region. Mathurin said, “The Ministry fully endorses this event and will work with organizers to continue the growth of this sports tourism event”.