|“Race for the Conch” Eco-Seaswim 2012 brings out the best|
|Wednesday, 11 July 2012 17:20|
Almost 90 swimmers took part in the third annual “Race for the Conch” Eco-SeaSwim events July 7 in front of “Ricky’s” Flamingo Cafe in Grace Bay.
The first event, a 2.4-mile Ironman distance race kicked off at 8 a.m. Although the field was small — just 11 swimmers — the quality was high.
World class marathon swimmer Marcos Diaz from the Dominican Republic and winner of the 2.4-mile event last year blazed through the finish arch in just 42 minutes 20 seconds. Wally Dicks from the U.S. came in second in 46 minutes 5 seconds. Third was Sean Crockett, also from the U.S., at 46 minutes 10 seconds. The top female swimmer was Kristiana Kalibat who came in fourth place with a time of 48 minutes 19 seconds.
Next came the 100-meter Children’s Swim for youngsters 12 and under. Seventeen spirited children participated and got huge welcome and applause as they ran through the finish arch. Special congratulations to the youngest swimmer, Alex, who is just 4 years old.
At 10 a.m. David Bowen, Director of Culture and popular musician, blew the conch to start the popular 1-mile swim. Though most swimmers were in it to challenge themselves to do their personal best, several locals and visitors were out to take home a conch trophy. Diaz decided not to enter the 1-mile race, which left event wide open for a new winner this year.
A stronger than usual current running east to west made the race a bit more challenging, but all jumped in with gusto and determination. Twenty minutes and 28 seconds later, Provo resident Dan Redmond stormed up the beach. He was followed by Clay Britt and Eric Erenstoft, both from the U.S., in 20 minutes 43 seconds and 21 minutes 6 seconds, respectively.
The 1-mile Women’s Division saw a dramatic finish as American Ann Lobelo took first with a time of 27 minutes 3 seconds, followed by fellow American Kerin Crockett just two seconds behind. Provo resident Nicola Jordan came in third with a time of 28 minutes 35 seconds.
The Regent Palms’ three-person team had the best combined time to win the Resort Cup for the second year in a row.
Noteworthy, two firefighters from Haiti participated in the 1-mile race, a first for Haiti.
Race organizers Ben Stubenberg and Chloe Zimmermann received numerous compliments for smooth organization and high safety standards. In addition to Race Safety Director Kristof Lingier and Race Safety Boat operator Sarah McAteer, Big Blue provided four kayaks and stand-up paddle boarders to monitor the swimmers, while three lifeguards stood watch on the beach.
Race doctors Joe LeMoine and Dawn O’Sullivan, Emergency Medical Services of Provo, and the Red Cross stood by to provide medical assistance, which was not required.
Following the race, the U.S. Coast Guard put on a spectacular Search and Rescue demonstration right off the beach.
Awards ceremonies took place on the Flamingo Cafe beach that evening. Unique conch trophies created by local artists Stanford Handfield and Brenda Ludington from Paradise Arts were presented to the winners at sunset.
Handfield also created the conch carvings, which served as medals for the children, while Ludington created the kiln fired clay medals with race logo for the other swimmers.
Several local businesses provided valuable gifts as door prizes to lucky swimmers present. Flamingo managers Ricky and Stacy Clarke amped the festivities with a Junkanoo band followed by hopping live music.
Proceeds from the race will go to four charities on Provo and in Haiti: Provo Children’s Home, Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, Salvation Army and TractorShare. These charities were selected because the real difference they make on Provo and in Haiti with low or no overhead expenses.
“This is a race that people come back to,” Zimmermann added. “Of course, nothing like this happens without generous sponsorship and dedicated volunteers.”
Both pointed out that there is growing enthusiasm for learning to swim and swim competition on Provo that the “Race for the Conch” avidly supports with the Turks and Caicos Islands Swim Federation.
All results for the 2.4- and 1-mile races along with race pictures will be posted on the “Race for the Conch” website at www.ecoseaswim.com.
Photo by Jon Nickson/eyeSpice
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