Swimmers from all over the world will converge on the island of Barbados in early November for the 7th Barbados Open Water Festival in Carlisle Bay. Since inception the Festival has hosted Olympians, World Champions, Masters Swim Champions, World Record Holders, Junior Champions, Pan Am Medallists and scores of recreational swimmers from all over the world. Festival organizers, together with title sponsor, ANSA Rentals, are delighted to announce that their specially invited guest for 2018 will be Cameron Bellamy, the first Oceans Seven Swimmer to attend the Festival. Only eleven people in the world can claim to be part of the elite group of swimmers who have completed swims across seven of the toughest channels in the world.
Cameron Bellamy is practically a household name in Barbados, after his unprecedented attempt to swim 91K around the island in September 2018. He swam for 27 hours, covering an incredible 66K, just about two thirds of the distance. Although he didn’t reach the finish line his swim was an amazing feat given that there are only a handful of people in the world that can swim continuously for more than 24 hours.
The swim created such intrigue globally that the capacity of the tracking software was frequently exceeded during the swim. In addition, thousands watched video clips, shared photos, commented and liked on social media. Its incredible to note that Bellamy didn’t travel to Barbados with an entourage – no physios, trainers or nutritionists – just a few enthusiastic family members. His support staff during the attempt was comprised of local volunteers. Since the first attempt (aka #SwimAroundBarbados), the South African has increased the intensity of his already gruelling training, often spending in excess of nine hours swimming daily. He intends to make a second attempt in the near future.
Bellamy will be joined at the Barbados Festival by swimmers from at least 15 other countries. Previous multiple time winner, American Eney Jones, as well as last year’s 3.3K winner Nikoli Blackman of Trinidad will be on the start lines. Nikoli, who recently won the Maracas Bay 3K Open Water in Trinidad, has been attending the Festival since 2013 when he was only eight years old. Well-known open water swimmer, Bill Ireland of California, who has competed in open water swimming events for the past 48 years, logging participation in over 400 events across the world will return again after debuting here in 2017. Rick Peters, the three-time winner of the Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy for highest placed Barbadian Masters Swimmer in the 5K and a participant in every Festival since the inaugural event in 2013 will defend his title. Several competitive junior swimmers from US, Canada and Barbados are expected to challenge the many experienced Masters swimmers.
Kristina Evelyn, a Director of the growing Festival, said she was very pleased that ANSA Rentals had partnered with the locally owned yet globally recognized event in 2018. “We commend ANSA Rentals for joining with us and supporting this healthy lifestyle event that is playing a role not only in community building on the island but helping to enhance Barbados’ sports tourism offering. Their support has enabled us to introduce professional timing for the first time.” Sportstats, a leading international timing company, will be on the finish line. The company is contracted to time over one thousand races in 24 countries in 2018.
Also new this year is the finisher “bling” that swimmers will be able to collect at the end of the race and numerous random prizes donated by local companies that will be awarded during the weekend.
The Festival, a significant sports tourism project on the Barbados calendar, has grown every year since 2013. In 2017, 80% of the 625 entries across four races was visiting swimmers and the upcoming event is on track to record even higher entry numbers from visitors. A large percentage of the visitors hail from all across the USA, Canada and the UK but in 2018 for the first time swimmers will be welcomed from from Wales, Switzerland, Argentina, Singapore, South Africa and Nicaragua. Swimmers are also returning from England, Ireland, Brazil, Trinidad, Antigua and Germany. A marked increase has been noted in participation in the highly social guided practice swims (Nov 7-9) and a presentation by Cameron Bellamy on November 7 is sure to attract many local and visiting swimmers.