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In Front of FLAMINGO CAFE, Grace Bay Beach Access between Club Med and Ocean Club East
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2013 News


Threatening storm clouds, a rain shower, and a stronger than usual current could not stop or dampen the spirits of the 4th annual “Race for the Conch” Eco-SeaSwim last Saturday July 6. The now well-established island charity event saw 100 swimmers turn out to enjoy a thrilling day that showed off Grace Bay as a World Class open water swim race destination. Swimmers from Provo, USA, Canada, and Europe, many returning for the 3rd or 4th time, competed for a unique conch trophy or just do their personal best. Defending champion and resident swimmer, Dan Redmond, once again took first in the 1 Mile Menʼs Division in a superb time of 23 minutes 38 seconds. Eric Erenstoft and Clay Britt of the USA came in 2nd and 3rd.

Provo resident Jessica Sloan, came if first in the 1 Mile Womenʼs Division in an excellent time of 27 minutes 53 seconds. She was followed by Rachel Jenny and Sally Ann Patton of the USA for 2nd and 3rd place.

First place overall winner for the 2.4 Mile event was Wally Dicks of Virginia, USA. Wally had taken second place for the past two years, but this time won it handily as he clocked in at 56 minutes 42 seconds. Americans Ladislav Sebestyan and James Lyness came in 2nd and 3rd.
Club Med won the Resort Cup with a combined time (3 swimmers) of 118 minutes 15 seconds.

The event also featured a 100 meter open water Childrenʼs Swim for youngsters 11 and under. “These are our future open water racers,” said race Co-Director Chloe Zimmermann, “and we want to do all we can to encourage their participation.” In keeping with the “conch” theme, TCI Director of Culture, David Bowen, blew the conch shell to start the races, adding another uniquely TCI touch to the event. Race organizers made minor changes in this yearʼs 1 mile and 2.4 mile course that put the start/finish right at the half-way point in front of Rickyʼs Flamingo Cafe. That allowed spectators a better view of the entire event. Swimmers complimented the new course for its easy navigation close to the shore with large, visible buoys. Three time competitor John Corcoran from Thunder Bay, Canada commented: “This is definitely the best organized open water swim race in the world with friendly volunteers, organizers, and swimmers at every level.”

“Itʼs very gratifying to get comments like that,” said race Co-Director Ben Stubenberg. “We had lots of good people--water safety and medical personnel, timers, registrars, beach staff, and others--working hard to make it happen. Everyone deserves credit for the success.” “Swimmers train hard to do this race,” added Co-Director Zimmermann. “And they mentally steel themselves to do a mile or 2.4 miles. So we have to get it right. Seeing them beam when they finish is pretty cool.”

This year the swim event raised $6000 for local charities that include Provo Childrenʼs Home, the Salvation Army program to feed school kids, and the Reef Fund. “Island sponsors from businesses large and small really came through once again to make this a first class race,” said co-Director Zimmermann. Race Directors also expressed thanks to the TCI Tourist Board for actively promoting the event that brought in many more swimmers. They added a big compliment as well to Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs and Marine Police, who did a great job in getting the course ready and keeping boat traffic at bay.

In addition to raising money for charity, the race aims to build interest in swimming in the Turks & Caicos and help protect the reefs and ocean. “We want to get more people in TCI to learn how to swim and identify and develop talent for regional and international competition,” said Co-Director Stubenberg. “TCI abounds with great athletic talent, so there is every reason to believe that we could produce some outstanding swimmers similar to Jamaica, Bahamas, and Cayman.” Efforts are underway to start an open water swim club and build a proper swim facility that could take TCI to the next level of swimming.

The top 3 male and female finishers in the 1 mile and top 3 overall finishers in the 2.4 mile races, as well as the best resort team, received hand-carved conch trophies created by local artist Stanford Hanfield. Local artist Brenda Luddington of Paradise Arts hand-made and hand-painted kiln-fired trophy bases. She also designed and made the medals using local materials that every finisher received. Awards were also given for the oldest (64) and youngest (13) swimmers, as well as for greatest effort.

Next yearʼs race is set for Saturday July 5, 2014 and will include a 1/2 mile race in addition to the 1 mile and 2.4 mile races. More information on the race with full results and more pictures can be found at race website and Turks & Caicos Eco-SeaSwim Facebook site.

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