Beautiful conditions for Butterfield 800m Sea Swim

The setting: Crystal clear waters with the sun beaming down on the crowd of 120 swimmers gathered for a competitive race at Governor’s Beach, Seven Mile Beach.

One week after another open water race, the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA) hosted the 15th Annual Butterfield 800m Sea Swim on Saturday 27 May, 2017.

Stingray Swim Club’s John Bodden was the first out of the water and sprinted to the finish line on shore, a result that has been the norm in many of the recent sea events.

The race ended with a sprint to the finish line on the sand.

However, the 17-year-old was made to work for the accomplishment, as he tracked down Rory Barrett of Camana Bay Aquatic Club, who led for much of the much of the race until Bodden took the lead near the end. Bodden finished in 10:18 and Barrett in 10:22.

“He had the inside and I knew I had to push. He beat me on the sprint but I was feeling tired [toward the end],” Barrett said in an interview with as they awaited the awards presentation. “I saw him catching up to me and I was like ‘oh boy’ but I knew he would have a strong finish.”

Butterfield 800m top 3: L-R: Jordan Crooks (3rd), John Bodden (1st), Rory Barrett (2nd).

Bodden said he enjoyed the race, including the challenge provided by his teammate on the national team. “Today was really good. It was clear water…just an overall good environment to swim in today,” Bodden said. “It was a fun one. It is always exciting to race at the end.”

Third was Jordan Crooks (11:01), who edged Jake Bailey (11:02) to the finish. “It was rough. My goal was to try to keep up with them but I still managed to come third, so I’m pretty happy with that,” he said.

Meantime, Ria Plunkett, another Stingray Swim Club member, was the first female finisher ahead of clubmates Raya Embury-Brown and Stephanie Royston.

Top 3 females: L-R: Raya Embury-Brown, Ria Plunkett and Stephanie Royston.

Plunket said the conditions were perfect for the race. “The water was flat; there were a lot of people who showed up and that was good competition for the UANA (Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas) Open Water that’s coming up.”

Royston noted the water was so calm and clear that she could see the bottom, which added to a nice atmosphere for the swim.

Among the competitors was seven-year-old Sashka Parker, who was participating in her first sea swim race.

“It was fun. I was a bit tired but I just kept on swimming,” she said, adding that although she started feeling some pain in her ribs, she kept going because of the motivation of her coach, David Pursey, who swam alongside her for the entire race.

Stingray Swim Club coach David Pursley with Sashka Parker.

After crossing the line and doing an interview with Pursley hoisted young Sashka onto his shoulders as they headed to the officials’ tent to report their finish.

Meantime, many of the athletes are also gearing up for longer events in the near future, including the 25th Annual Flowers One-Mile Sea Swim, which will include at least 25 Olympians, and UANA open water championships being held here.

Young Sashka Parker says she’s ready for more.

“Coming up to the Flowers Sea Swim, we have the [UANA] 2.5 K relay and the 10K, so we’ve really been training a lot harder for that area. With that type of training, it will be good for the [one] mile [event] as well,” Bodden said.

Barrett said they have “bumped up the metres and bumped up the intensity to get ready for that long sea swim.”

Plunkett said she expected the training swimmers in the national programme have been doing to pay off in those longer events.

“We did a lot of open water work going in to CARIFTA, so that’s going to pay off going in to UANA and Flowers. All the sea swims that we have will help with getting the turns and getting the open water feel where everyone’s not set in a lane, so we all know what that’s going to be like,” she told

The UANA Senior 5K Mixed Relay and the UANA Junior and Masters 2.5K Mixed Relay will be held on 9 June, followed by the Flowers One-Mile Sea Swim the next day and UANA individual events that weekend as well.

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