25 swimmers, three races, four relay teams, fabulous pearl bracelets as prizes, kayakers battling the rain, pearl barges full of swimmers….the first ever Ocean Swim in the northern division of Fiji was an exhilarating event.
Sponsored by J Hunter Pearls, the Fiji Pearls Ocean Swim ran over three days: May 29 / 30 / 31 and offered three distances: 10k, 5k and 2k. The weather was grey and wet (just about the only 3 days in May that were poor weather!) but the swimmers were uncomplaining and every race went ahead.
The course for the 10k and 5 k swims ran from Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort straight along the coast to Daku – and then back again for the 10k. There were 4 relay teams and 3 solo swimmers for the 10k, with Wayne Thrupp from Queensland swimming the fastest time of 3 hrs 5 mins as a solo swimmer. Wayne then went on to sweep the board, winning the 5k the next day and the 2k the day after.
Traditionally men and women swimmers receive separate prizes but in this event J Hunter Pearls made up beautiful peal bracelets for both sexes, the only difference being that the men received black pearls and the women received gold pearls. Leanne Hunter presented the prizes, and gave every single competitor a specially engraved oyster shell with the swim emblem etched into it.
On the weekend after the swims a number of swimmers held a free swimming clinic for the local kids of Savusavu. A rowdy bunch of 20 kids aged 6 to 15 turned up and were shown breathing and stroke techniques. Some of them had the basics of swimming and soon picked up the idea; others were real beginners and had to be coaxed out of their life jackets. “It was a very worthwhile undertaking.” said Chris Webb. “I think we managed to give them some useful pointers and they certainly responded with a lot of enthusiasm.” Most of the swimmers were from the Balmoral Beach Club in Sydney, a club well known in the local Mosman community for the annual 1k Ocean Swim race it organizes on Balmoral beach as a fundraiser for children’s cancer research.
Next year’s Fiji Pearls Ocean Swim is being planned for the same time next year. www.oceanswimsfiji.com