Female swimmers made the most wake during the fourth annual Swim the Sound fundraiser for Virgin Islands Search and Rescue on June 3rd in Virgin Gorda’s North Sound.
The top finishers in the two and three mile races were Amanda Grant and Sara Columbus, respectively.
Grant, a BVI resident, was competing in the swim for the third year. Grant and her husband run a charter business in the BVI and swim whenever they are in a nice anchorage.
“I grew up as a swimmer and I still try to swim a lot here. We live in a beautiful place to swim and I like to support VISAR,” Grant said. “Any time you have a chance to compete, it is fun.”
Participants started at Saba Rock and swam to Leverick Bay Marina and Resort. The two courses included a one and a two mile swim, which were patrolled by VISAR boats, lifeguards and volunteers on paddleboards and kayaks.
A friend of Neville Sorrentino signed him up for the two mile swim without knowing about it.
“Someone put my name forward and thought I needed to prove myself,” Sorrentino said.
He had never done the event before, but enjoyed it.
“I have never swum anywhere near two miles before,” Sorrentino said. “Just getting out there in the open water was a bit daunting, but with all the competitors swimming around it was fine.”
The fundraiser netted more than $10,000 and attracted 68 swimmers from around the region, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Ireland.
“It is the biggest Swim the Sound event we have ever had,” organizer Katie Claxton said.
Last year the swim had 54 participants.
Doctor Nagy Darwish, VISAR’s newest member, raised the most money during the fundraiser: more than $1,500. He did the two mile swim while fully suited up in four layers of VISAR gear, including a helmet and boots.
“It was ten-times more difficult than wearing just fins,” Darwish said. “My leg cramped up three times.”
However, he did have some incentive for finishing the race.
“My friend said he would be waiting for me with a rum punch at the finish line,” Darwish said. “I was happy to do it and raise money for VISAR.”
He finished the race in one hour and 38 minutes.
The race finished at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina where participants had lunch and played games during Waterwater, the second half of the fundraiser.
VISAR is a non-profit organization that has a $150,000 budget, which includes boat maintenance, medical equipment, supplies and training. On average, VISAR responds to 80 calls per year.
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.
(Top three in each category)
1: John Pettigrew 1h 14m 43s
2: Derek Pettigrew 1m 23h 10s
1: Dave Pettigrew 1h 06m 56s
2: Elaine Couper 1h 10m 20s
3: Michelle Hogwarth 1h 25m 58s
FEMALE TWO MILE
1: Amanda Grant 1h 00m 56s
2: Jaendri Engelbrecht 1h 05m 48s
3: Catherine Ouriach 1h 08m 31s
MALE TWO MILE
1: Paul Norris 1h 01m 53s
2: Jacques Roux 1h 02m 27s
3: Cameron Walton 1h 05m14s
FEMALE THREE MILE
1: Sara Columbus 1h 18m 04s
2: Natasha Ruscheinsk 1h 25m 05s
3: Jude Woodcock, 1h 37m 49s
MALE THREE MILE
1: Jeff Miller 1h 29m 28s
2: Peter Willmott 1h 30m 05s
3: Samuel Jones 1h 43m 52s