In 2018, Saint Lucia hosted the Inaugural Channel Swim Event consisting of a 21 miles/33 kilometers swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique as well as Open Water Swim Clinics and races in the 1K, 3K and 5K distances.
The event was orchestrated to bring open water swimming to the forefront in Saint Lucia. The first solo swimmer attempted and completed a swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique in May 2018.
On Tuesday 28th May 2019, the team of organizers held a press launch at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority office in Rodney Bay to disclose the updates for the 2019 event. Again this year the event will be facilitated by Philip Rush, open water swimming expert and still “current world record holder for the fastest two and three way swim of the English Channel which he completed in 1987 in a time of 28 hours 21 minutes (he completed the two way in a time of 16 hours 10 minutes).”
Patrick Mathurin, Director of Sports, stressed that the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports fully endorses the event and initiative. He emphasised this is a sporting event that engages the international community in sports in Saint Lucia. Mathurin further expressed that the St Lucia Channel Swim Event is designed to engage the local public in a variety of ways to help decrease the fear of the water.
Taking place from July 4th to July 9th, this 2nd annual event will include Open Water Clinics open to the public on July 5th as well as the Races on July 6th with 1K, 3K, and 5K events. One exciting addition to this portion of the overall event will be a mixed relay at the end of the Races. Meet Director, Lily Bergasse notes that this will allow participation by individuals who may not be confident or able to complete 1000 metres.
Saint Lucia Tourism Authority representative, Christopher Gustave, conveyed that he is happy that this partnership is developing another sports tourism event which draws Saint Lucia to the international market. As he continued, Gustave indicated that sports tourism events such as the Saint Lucia Channel Swim aids in boosting the local economy as spectators to the events need a place to sleep, a place to eat, or even souvenirs to take home.
July 7th is set as the main date for the channel swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique. This date is flexible depending on the weather. Alternate dates July 8th and 9th have been set depending on weather conditions. This year the channel swim will be attempted by two solo swimmers, Sandra Bergquist and Kevin Pollman. Both are from Minnesota and avid open water swimmers that have swam in various parts of the world.
Most recently Sandra completed El Cruce from Cancun to Isla Mujeres in 2 hours and 11 minutes. Sandra swam this event in 2 hours 11 minutes 03 seconds, placing 1st for women and 2nd overall.
On March 28th, Kevin placed first in the Apolima Strait Swim, a 22.3 km race between the two largest islands of Samoa from Upolu to Savai’i. He completed this swim in 6 hours 17 minutes.
Excitedly, Sue Dyson, the main event organizer, announced that there will be a local trio attempting to swim the channel as well. Adventure Swim Club, with the team mantra, “If we can see it, we can swim it!” consists of Vanessa Eugene, Monique Devaux-Lovell, and Rodriguez Constantine. This group has consistently been training for the swim since they decided to take this plunge.
The Races and Clinics will be open to the public. Registration can be completed online by visiting the Facebook Page: St Lucia Channel Swim or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Registrations completed before June 21 will receive a free commemorative T-shirt with their registrations. Further information can be found on their social media page: @sluchannelswim.