Great experience for local swimmers at UANA championships

It was valuable learning experience for local swimmers who competed in the UANA open water championships held here 9-12 June, their coaches have said.

Some of Cayman’s top sea swimmers came up against rivals from Brazil, Canada, Peru and the United States in a series of events held in the water off Seven Mile Beach and coincided with the Flowers Sea Swim races.

This was the first time in more than a decade that UANA, the body that controls swimming in the Americas, held its open water championships. As such, it was a first-time experience for all the swimmers who represented Cayman.

“Each of them had only swam international at CARIFTA, which is only one race each year, and the Flowers Sea Swims. So, this was a great experience to compete against teams and people who really focus on open water,” explained Bailey Weathers, the technical director for the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA).

Cayman Islands swimmers get set for the UANA 2.5K open water swim.

The local teams trailed Canada and Peru in the 5k and 2.5k relays on 9 June, and down the field in individual 2.5k, 5k and 10k races on 11 and 12 June.

Swimming in the relays were John Bodden, Ali Jackson, Liam Henry and Elana Sinclair on one team; Alex Dakers, Ria Plunkett, Samantha Bailey and Jake Bailey on another.

Bodden, Dakers, Henry and Bailey also competed in the UANA 2.5K junior (boys) race, with Sinclair, Plunket, Bailey and Jasmine Lambert-Wragg doing the girls 2.5K race. Bodden and Plunlett also competed in the 10K event – it was their second ever race at that distance.

Ria Plunkett and John Bodden stepped up to the 10K challenge.

Although there were no customary podium finishes, Weathers was pleased with the young athletes and the opportunity provided to them.

“I really thought our kids did exceptional well. Open Water is all about gaining experience and confidence against international teams, Mr [Frank] Flowers gave them the chance to do that in their own country. What more could we ask for as parents and coaches. Mr. Flowers and the Flowers group really came through for us,” he said.

Meantime, Stingray Swim Club head coach David Pursley said the performances against some of the best open water swimmers in the world was encouraging.

SSC coach David Pursley gives a pep talk to swimmers.

“After the competition, we were able to talk with confidence about the future of our open water training. The best competition is right in front of us and reachable. This time next year, if we prepare and train consistently, we can have our swimmers competing with the best of the Junior division.  Next year, we can move past the idea of experience and really look to compete,” he told

“The swimmers know what they will need to do in training to move up the ranks and the experience of the race is invaluable for the future of Cayman open water swimming,” Pursley said.

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