2nd Annual Turks & Caicos "Race for the Conch" Eco-SeaSwims Provided Exciting Back-to-Back Races
The 2nd annual Turks & Caicos "Race for the Conch" Eco-SeaSwim took place in Grace Bay, Providenciales on July 9th in near perfect conditions for two exciting races with top world-class swimmers. This year featured both 1 mile and 2.4 mile races spaced 30 minutes apart that allowed motivated swimmers a chance to do two back-to-back races in the same morning. The races were started by the blowing of a conch shell that set swimmers on courses that ran along the beach from the Flamingo Cafe west past Club Med to Grace Bay Club and looped back to the start. The course proximity to the beach gave spectators a thrilling close-up look at the competitive field and allowed swimmers to hear the cheers.
Champion ultra-distance swimmer and Open Water Swimmer Man of the Year 2010 Marcos Diaz from the Dominican Republic defended his first place finish last year by once again winning the 1 mile distance for men convincingly in 20 min. 27 sec. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th places were up for grabs as 4 swimmers came in neck and neck in a mad dash to a dramatic runner-up finish. Mario diFilippo from Italy came in 2nd in 21 min 42 sec. and was followed by Eric Erenstoft from California, USA in third in 21 min. 44 sec.
First place for women in the 1 mile race went to Jodi Gomez of Trinidad who finished in 25 min 25 sec. She was closely followed by Chelsea Mohammed, also from Trinidad, in 25 min 42 sec. for a one-two Trini finish. Lissa Heinz from Canada/Turks & Caicos came in third at 28 min 59 sec.
Marcos Diaz won the 2.4 mile race handily in 50 min. 17 sec for two back-to-back victories. Kristiana Kalibat from New Jersey, USA came in second overall in 53 min. 10 sec. Wally Dicks of Virginia, USA took third overall in 55 min. 30 sec. There were no separate men and women category for the 2.4 mile distance. At this and longer swim distances, women are competitive with or better than with men.
The race featured a special "Resort Cup" category for hotels on the island to field a team. This year's cup was won by West Bay Club. The race also honored the youngest and oldest swimmer, Malteo Della Casa (10) and Robert Beach (81). Robert Beach did both swims back-to-back.
"We were very pleased with the turnout and top level competition in both races," said Ben Stubenberg, Co-Race Director. "We were especially glad that so many racers commented on the high quality of race safety in addition to the beautiful course." Co-Race Director Chloe Zimmermann added "These two races offered unique challenges in a relatively benign swim environment inside the the third largest barrier reef in the world. The Turks & Caicos is definitely on the map as a premier open water swim destination for new and elite swimmers alike. "
As happened last year, the races were preceded by a 100 meter children's race to help introduce youngsters to open water swimming. Among the goals of the "Race of the Conch" is to develop a strong interest in swimming in the West Indies, as well raise awareness of the need to protect the reefs and ocean around the islands and help the less fortunate through the power and example of sport. These goals are shared by The West Indies Bluewater Swim Series, of which the Turks & Caicos is a founding member. "The Race for the Conch" is the 3rd of four open water swim races in the West Indies series, which includes the Nevis 2.5 StarMile, the St. John Beach-to-Beach Powerswim, and the Maracas Bay Classic (coming up on September 25). Next year's "Race for the Conch" is set for Saturday July 7, 2012.
Contact for "Race for the Conch:" firstname.lastname@example.org
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