Home » Life » Swim the Sound: VISAR Event Raises More Than $20,000
Gilbo Simpson and his dog Biltong compete in the two-mile assisted race. Biltong was the first dog to compete in the swim. Photo by Todd VanSickle
Gilbo Simpson and his dog Biltong compete in the two-mile assisted race. Biltong was the first dog to compete in the swim. Photo by Todd VanSickle

Swim the Sound: VISAR Event Raises More Than $20,000

Each year Virgin Islands Search and Rescue hosts Swim the Sound, a fund-raising event on Virgin Gorda, which takes place in North Sound.

The event, held on June 1st, set a record for participation with 134 people.

Ninety-seven competed in either the two or three-mile swim from Saba Rock to Leverick Bay Resort and Marina, while 37 took part in the stand-up paddleboard race on the same course.

In a category of his own, Biltong was the first dog to complete the two-mile swim.

He was our first ever dog,” said VISAR Operations Manager Katie Claxton.

Like everyone else, Biltong had to sign a waiver with his paw print before competing. He wore a doggy-sized lifejacket and was kept on track by his owner Gilbo Simpson, who threw a tennis ball about 20ft ahead of him throughout the race. Biltong was also tied to his owner with a piece of rope about six feet long to prevent him from jumping on other swimmers.

“I don’t think we would have made it without the motivation of the ball,” Simpson said. “He got to the first mark quite happily, but then he got bored and we had to play fetch the rest of the way. But we made it.”

Simpson said Biltong raised more money through sponsorship than both him and his fiancée, who also competed in the event. The couple live and work on a charter boat with their dog.

“He [Biltong] loves the water,” Simpson said. He added that the dog has had the lifejacket for ages and wore it in rough weather so that if he fell of the yacht, they could see him.

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