Flowers Sea Swim 2011

One of the premier sporting events in Grand Cayman is the annual Flowers Sea Swim. I remember hearing about this event from the time we first arrived on island. With us living a mere ten minutes away from one of the world's top open water swims, participation was hard to avoid. 

Plus, with a wardrobe like this, why would you want to?!

Many came out for the one mile swim from the Ritz Carlton to Royal Palms. Somewhere mixed in the crowd below were the likes of Gary Hall, Jr., Chip Peterson, Eva Fabian, Ian Crocker, and Kristy Kowal.

And for you swimmer-celebrity junkies out there, the island was proud to host Penny Palfrey.

Palfrey had just finished world-record-breaking swims between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman (five miles in 53:28 - a mere six seconds faster than the previous record-holder!) and between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman (over 67 miles in 40 hours and 41 minutes). Understandably, her body took quite a beating, and she was ordered to sit out the Flowers swim.

Palfrey with Frank Flowers.

Like at most sporting events here, I was once again impressed that events like these draw all shapes, sizes, and skill sets. NS and BK signed up only a few short days before the big race with absolutely zero training. Their lack of preparation didn't dampen their spirits.

NS, MA, and BK are pumped to begin.
The non-experience was most highlighted by the fact that NS had to open his nine-month-old goggles for the first time just for the race.

Confidence? Or nervousness?
Finally, it was time to enter the water and get the show on the road.

Some participants took the "show" part literally.

I loved seeing all the bright caps against the Caribbean Sea. The water was full of anticipation and potential.

Or just excited nervousness.

A cannon shot from the island's resident pirate ship was meant to get the swimmers off to a flying start. In reality, I think it was a standard gunshot that launched the race.

And then all those brightly-capped heads pointed south, and the swimmers made their way through the crowded course. The race purportedly always begins at the Ritz, and either goes north to Tiki Beach or south to Royal.

Now why, you may ask, did I not join in the fun? Well. I am a firm believer in proper planning leading to predictable results. And as I did absolutely no planning for this event, we can pretty much guess what the result would have been. Besides, who would have taken photos of the swimmers in all the critical moments? Or of the amazing sand creations along the way?

So KK and I walked the entire mile, trying to keep in sight of our boys, documenting their progress.

Front crawl seemed to be the stroke of choice for most swimmers...

...although BK did his fair share of breast stroke.

And many swimmers, every once in a while, would take a quick breather. Putting their feet on the bottom was totally allowed; just no walking.

Still smiling. All is well.
This has got to be one of the prettiest sea swims. I'm so glad I saw it from this angle. This year.

Another quick break for a smile!

Just watching the participants muscle through a mile in the water made it seem like a marathon. I was so impressed with every swimmer that took it one stroke at a time, just waiting for the next eighth-mile marker to boost them along.

This was a welcome sight for us all.
Now, despite the fact that NS plays multiple sports and has always been quite the athlete, I was convinced that with his lack of preparation and general inexperience with open water swimming, he would exit the water swearing he would never do this grueling event again.

But I was wrong.

Maybe it was the medal.

Maybe it was the free pizza (and TCBY!!)

Maybe it was the camaraderie.  Whatever it was, NS plans to make this a repeat event. And I'm only days away from buying some proper goggles and getting into the water myself. I've just started to realize, lately, that I am surrounded by some of the warmest, bluest water in the world. It's high time I take advantage of the opportunities of the sea.

An oldy but goody: Seven Mile Beach from the air.


  1. great post! maybe I will just repost this rather than writing my own :)

  2. love the sea of colors in the sea~!

  3. Oh my gosh - these pics are so classic NS - haha. What place did he come in? I love your blurb about not being prepared - haha. You're the best, JS! :D

  4. I don't know.. there were hundreds of people. But I'm sure he'll track it better next year. :)