Sunday, April 7, 2013

2013 Bente Weber St. Kitts - Nevis Channel Swim

Swimming two and a half miles is quite a feat regardless of the body of water. Swimming across a channel in four to six foot waves that is known to have sharks and quite a current is taking the feat to a whole new level.
Over a hundred people did the latter Sunday during the 11th Annual Bente Weber St. Kitts Nevis Cross Channel Swim.

The actual number of swimmers this year was 136 who started on Oualie Beach, Nevis, and 127 finished the swim at Reggae Beach, St. Kitts. (Don't worry they didn't leave the other nine swimmers out there, they did pick them up with a boat.)

I arrived just in time to see the first person cross the finish line at Reggae Beach.

Finish Line!
Can you believe it only took the first place finisher One hour and Four minutes to swim the entire 2.5 miles?? Unbelievable. The coolest part is that the first place finisher was a lady, and a student from Ross University. Christina Wensman, 27, of California brought home the largest trophy and did it with style.
Christina Wensman 2013 St. Kitts Nevis Channel Swim Champion.
First, you have to realize that there are two categories for the event. One category, The Racing Class or Competition Class is all out bare bones swimming to see who can do it the quickest. The second category is called Assisted Class or Challenge Class, and these swimmers can wear fins, snorkels, and wetsuits, but do not really compete for time.




Wensman was in the Racing Class and was only a few minutes away from beating the record of pro triathelete Olivier Marceau, of France who completed the race in 59.08 in 2011. Pretty darn fast if you ask me.


Wensman crossing the finish line. This wasn't my picture so it's not very good quality.


I spoke with her briefly at the finish line and was amazed to find that she looked like she hadn't even swam a hundred meters. Wensman, an outgoing second semester Ross University Veterinarian student told me she really wished she had beaten the record.

" Leading up to the race I was hoping I could win, but didn't really know if I was going to. I had been swimming 1-2 miles twice a week since January, so I was hoping it was enough, but wasn't going to give my hopes up!"  Wensman said, "I knew I would be able to make it across without a problem, it was just a matter of the time I did it in and who I was swimming against. It was a lot of fun even though the water was very rough and at some points the waves were so big I could not even see the kayaks next to me. The race aside I am so glad that I was able to experience swimming across the channel and all the great people that were involved and I cannot wait to do it again next year."

I was curious how a person finishes that quickly and how they prepare for such a race. I was surprised at how little training she had been doing. It must be like second nature to her though.

"I grew up swimming and playing Division I water polo for Long Beach State in California." she said. "I had been swimming 1-2 miles twice a week since January, so I was hoping it was enough, but wasn't going to give my hopes up!"


Congrats to her and all the other 127 finishers. I certainly couldn't do it.

I can't forget to mention that my wife swam the channel too! She did it assisted with snorkel and fins but came in second place in that category. Wow! She swam so quickly that I missed her coming out of the water and she tapped me on the shoulder and I was like, "Wow, how'd you get here?" Julie is an excellent swimmer and every time we go snorkeling she leaves me in the dust but I was hesitant about her swimming across the channel, where I know there is a rough current like a river in the middle, and yes there are sharks in the water too. Fat chance telling her she can't do something so she did it and did fantastic. I only wish I got her coming out of the water. Maybe next year.

Julie and Katie Alexander a student and friend of ours who also swam the channel.

Below are some good pictures of the bulk of the swimmers coming in to the finish. I overheard many saying they swam to the wrong beach and had to swim further than they needed to. Bummer.



Also notice the boat and kayaks in the water who helped make sure everyone made it across safely. A big thanks to all the volunteers and supporters of the event.


These local kids begged me to take their picture and show it to them, so I did and now they're on the blog too. Look at the swimmer in the background tiredly trudging out the water being cheered on by an event coordinator.


Below is a picture of finisher and friend Dana Tackes. She also ran the half marathon earlier in the year with me.

Dana Tackes
And my favorite Brit also swam the race and here she is —Amy Scorah like always with big smile on her face. I think she's training to swim the British Channel.

Amy Scorah
Quite a few Ross University faculty members also swam the channel, other than my wife. Below is Kimberly Stewart, who is the sea turtle monitoring network coordinator finishing the swim.

Kimberly Stewart
Below is also another spouse/companion of a student —Alexandra Leibner finishing the race. I didn't know she was swimming it too. Alexandra is from Canada. That's a long swim!

Alexandra Leibner
Some people still had sea legs as they came ashore. I can't blame them, I'd probably do the same.


And the hodge-podge coast guard followed up the last finishers.


And of course everyone waited until the last swimmers arrived and all the competitors had a free lunch donated by Reggae Beach Bar. The radio DJ announced all the winners, including the youngest competitor to finish this year, Eli Segota, who is only seven years old, Segota's father and mother swam with him.

Eli Segota, 7 with his trophy.
The top male finisher was Shastri Roberts from Trinidad with a time of 1:11:33. Below is Roberts posing with his trophy, Mr. X of Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack, and Jodi Peeler, Communications Director of Ross University.

Peeler and the overall first place male finisher.

Ross had a lot of competitors but also a lot of supporters. Here is a random photo of some of the Ross supporters. Say Cheese!

All in all it was an awesome swim and a great morning. Thanks goes out to all the supporters, namely: The Wheel World Cycle Shop, Ross University, Reggae Beach Bar, and Mr X Shiggidy Shack, and The SKN Triathlon Federation.


The top finishers.


 A lot of the competitors and swimmers.