UK Paralympian joins Camana Bay swim meet

| 09/04/2013

CBAC-2nd-Annual-Open-Water-Swim-Series_LR.gif(CBAC): 95 swimmers, including one very special international guest, turned out on Saturday 23 March for the final event in the Camana Bay Aquatic Club Open Water Swim Series. This is the second year the competitive swim club has hosted the popular open water event. Open to swimmers of all ages and abilities, the Saturday afternoon races took place over the last two months on Governor’s Beach, with competitors swimming north towards Public Beach. Each event started with a 200m Lollipop Dash, designed for swimmers 10 and under, followed by a Sea Swim and Water Walk, which increased in distance throughout the series from 400m to 800m.

For the final event, Sea Swim participants were joined by 21 year-old Great Britain Paralympic swimmer Emma Hollis, who was on-island to encourage women’s and youth sports in the Cayman Islands. Hollis finished in 7th Place in the 800m Sea Swim – and was the first female swimmer to cross the finish line. “Not only did I survive the Camana Bay [Aquatic Club] sea swim yesterday, I actually was the first female to finish!” she tweeted after her swim.

Event organisers were impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of both the swimmers and volunteers despite the sometimes challenging conditions. “The series has been great for everyone,” CBAC Assistant Coach Jessica Siegele says of the beginner-focused events. “Although there was a slight chop, we had a great turn out and all the swimmers were excited to get out into the water, and especially to swim with such a well-known athlete like Emma. This is what the Open Water Series is all about – encouraging the community to come out and have fun, experience a new sport and gain confidence in the water.”

Hollis also visited the Camana Bay Aquatic Club at the Camana Bay Pool for a special training and Q&A session with the young swimmers. After joining the team for relay practice, Hollis sat down with the Club to talk about Paralympic swimming, as well as the importance of having a good balance between academics and athletics. Both Hollis and her younger brother, James, have osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition more commonly known as ‘brittle bone disease’. Both swimmers represented Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London – Emma competed in the S8 class and James in S9. Hollis is also the current World Record Holder for S8 800m Freestyle and S8 400m Individual Medley.

Hollis is in her final year of studies at Loughborough University in the UK and cites good time management as one of the keys to her success, both as a professional athlete and a university student. Hollis explained how she takes her books with her on away training sessions and keeps in constant contact with her university tutors while travelling for international meets.

“We were honoured to host such an inspiring, top athlete at the Camana Bay Pool,” says CBAC President Jeffrey Wight. “Emma’s dedication and drive has enabled her to succeed in both her swimming and her studies and she is a role model to all young athletes in the Cayman Islands. Her visit was a great final morale boost for the eight CBAC swimmers who attended the CARIFTA Swimming Championships over the Easter weekend.”

Seven CBAC swimmers travelled to Kingston, Jamaica as part of the Cayman Islands CARIFTA Swim Team. CBAC swimmer Danielle Boothe also headed to Jamaica to join the Jamaica CARIFTA Swim Team. All CBAC swimmers raised their rankings in at least one event, many in all of their events, and in total took home 5 medals for Cayman and 5 for Jamaica. Medal winners were Kavanagh Lambert (1 gold, 2 bronze), Lauren Hew (1 gold), Coral Tomascik (1 bronze), and Danielle Boothe (1 individual bronze, 4 relay medals). “The team’s hard work really paid off and I’m proud of each and every one of our swimmers,” says Wight. “I’d also like to thank CBAC’s platinum sponsor, MaplesFS, whose generous support helped to send our swimmers to CARIFTA.”

Next up for the busy Club is the Highlander Aquatics Long Course Invitational Swim Meet in Orlando, Florida. “Twenty swimmers from the Maples FS travel team will attend the Orlando meet,” explains Siegele. “This is a great event for our Age Group Development and Sprats Gold members, who haven’t yet reached CARIFTA level swimming. An event like this not only allows our swimmers to meet other competitive swimmers of similar ages and make new friendships – but gives them a further taste of competitive swimming and an opportunity gain international meet experience.”

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