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Kirby, Titus, Meyer the Water champs


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Kirby, Titus, Meyer the Water champs

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Jack Kirby and Danielle Titus left the pool behind, and did their dominating in the sea instead.

The popular swim pair claimed victory in the men’s and women’s 1.5 kilometre races at the Barbados Open Water Festival in Carlisle Bay.  

World champion Alex Meyer didn’t disappoint local fans as he swam to victory in the feature 5 kilometre race, the marquee event of the festival. The 2010 world champion over 25 kilometres and current United States National 5K champion finished in 55 minutes and 51 seconds and was never really threatened by Taylor Abbott, the 2014 FINA (International Swimming Federation) world junior champion.  

Abbott gave a spirited performance, however, finishing in 57 minutes and 46 seconds and has certainly put himself on the swim world’s radar.

Lindsay Vrooman, a United States national swim team member, had an outstanding swim to place third overall and first in the women’s 5K event (58 minutes, 15 seconds). Vrooman’s Badger Swim Club colleague Anina Lund was second, ahead of Barbados’ top female open water swimmer Lexi Clark. Former professional triathlete, Eney Jones, was fourth and US masters swimmer Christina Cairns, fifth.

Two hundred and thirty seven swimmers from multiple countries faced the starter in excellent conditions to compete in the 1.5km and 5km races.

A crowd of spectators gathered to witness this historic event that saw two open water world champions and other accomplished open water swimmers competing in the 5km race.

Meyer, whose easy-going personality and quiet confidence had already earned him fans in the local swim community, emerged from the water and calmly walked up the beach to the finish arch amid boisterous applause and cheers from all in attendance.  

The team from Badger Swim Club had other successes in the men’s 5K race as Ian Bidwell took third and Jack Collins was fourth.  

Trinidad’s Christian Marsden, the 2013 winner, was in a close battle at the finish with Bidwell and Collins but had to settle for fifth position, a mere second behind Collins.

A standout performance by Nicholas Hall of Barbados saw him narrowly miss a top five finish as he crossed the line one second behind Marsden.

The local swim fraternity had much to be proud about with the standings in the 1.5 km race being an almost all-Barbadian affair. In the men’s Jack Kirby was closely followed by Jonathan Manning, Nkosi Dunwoody and Simon Wilkie, with Ed Tsuzuki, a US masters swimmer, claiming fifth position.  

On the women’s side, Rebecca Lashley and Ashley Weekes of Barbados were second and third respectively, Izabella Bors (UK) was fourth and Keilani Talma (Barbados) rounded out the top five.

The inaugural Jonathan Morgan Memorial Trophy was presented to Rick Peters, the highest placed Barbadian masters swimmer in the 5K. Kay Morgan, Jonathan’s wife, was on hand to make the presentation.  

Several other Barbadian masters swimmers were winners in their age categories, including Brett Massiah, Jamie Harrison, John Howard, Greg Austin, Karen Porter and Chris Gibbs.

Special mention had to be made of the two veteran competitors, the energetic Jane Asher, 83, a highly acclaimed masters swimmer of the UK, and Jerome Reid, 84, a Barbadian, both of whom completed the 1.5 km event.

Winners received a variety of prizes in all of the 26 age categories from 12 and Under to 55 plus, from local and international sponsors, including airline tickets, cellphones, tablets, hotel stays and dinner vouchers. The three youngest competitors, all seven years old, were awarded prizes as was the Parker family of Canada who had five family members in the race.

This third Barbados event saw a rapid growth in the number of competitors and the level of competition. The wide range of ages, abilities and nationalities (US, UK, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Grenada, St Vincent, Antigua) made for an interesting and intriguing event.  

Several of the 2013 swimmers returned from the US and Canada. Local swimmers also benefited from an open water clinic hosted by Alex Meyer. (PR)

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