Since its inaugural start in 1988, the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association CUC Sea Swim has been one of Cayman’s longest open water competitive events. It started out as a standalone 800 metres race but in recent years the event has included the 400 metres for kids to test themselves against one another as well. However, it’s the 800m that continues to be the highlighted event, bringing in hundreds of visitors to the island over the years and is also used as a preseason opportunity for several national athletes competing in meets following the sea swim, as well as providing the development of their open water skills.
In the 90’s, swimmers like, Mark Richford and James Bebarfald dominated the annual sea swim. Swimmers like 3-time Olympian, Shaune Fraser swam several times in the CUC swim, even winning in 2012. In fact, Fraser’s first open water race was at the 1995 CUC sea swim when he was just 7 years old. Someone else who competed that same year was the late Landon Von Kanel. At just 11 years old, Von Kanel finished second overall and dominantly beating previous winners. The following year he became the first swimmer from the Cayman Islands to medal at the CARIFTA Swimming Championships. Unfortunately, Von Kanel passed away in 2001 following a fatal car accident.
In more recent years, Swimmers like Jordan and Jillian Crooks, Lara Butler, Jake Baily, Avery Lambert, Liam Henry, and “the Jackson sisters”, Sarah and Alison have all left their top ten contributions in CUC sea swim on several different occasions amongst others. However, here is a list of five open water swimmers that left their names in the CIASA CUC Sea Swim 800m history books.
- John Bodden
If we’re talking about setting the bar high, John Bodden name fits the bill. Bodden made an appearance at the CUC sea swim in 2015, taking first in 10 minutes. In 2016 he won in 10 minutes, 11 seconds and won again in 2017 with a time of 10 minutes, 35 seconds. No swimmer before and no swimmer after has won the event three consecutive times, making Bodden the only person to do so.
2. Alex Dakers
Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championship medalist Alex Daker holds the record for the event’s fastest swim. Daker took that honor at last year’s (2019) sea swim when he passed the line in first clocking a resounding 8 minutes, 53 seconds.
3. Elana Sinclair
At 14 years old Sinclair took second place in the 2016 CUC swim female division but it wasn’t her performance 4 years ago that made Sinclair claim the top 3 on our list. Instead, it was her swim in 2019 where she clocked in an impressive 9 minutes, 5 seconds to set the record for fastest female in the history of the CUC sea swim. But she wasn’t done setting records there. At this year’s (2020) CUC sea swim, Sinclair won the female division again but also place third overall, making her the second female behind Lara Butler to win bronze out of all the competitors.
4. Geoffrey Butler
2016 Summer Olympian Geoffrey Butler won the CUC sea swim back to back years. The known Caymanian 1500 metre swimmer first won the annual swim in 2010 with a time of 9 minutes 56 seconds. Butler came back the following year to win again, bettering his time to 9 minutes, 33 seconds.
5. Ria Plunkett
Two time open water bronze medalist at the CARIFTA games Ria Plunkett, is no stranger to the CUC sea swim. Plunkett won first female in 2015 clocking a time of 10 minutes, 57 seconds. She was first female again in 2016 beating her previous time by 13 seconds. Coincidentally, Plunkett place 5th overall both times.
- Iain McCallum
2014 winner, with a time of 9 minutes, 56 seconds
- Brett Fraser
2013 winner, with a time of 9 minutes 39 seconds
- Danielle Boothe
2012 female winner with a time of 12 minutes, 21 seconds
- Tina Abbott
1995 female winner with a time of 13 minutes, 17 seconds
- Adam Voss
2009 winner with a of 10 minutes, 4 seconds