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The 2012 42nd Annual Bernie Butler Swim Race & Beach Party took place on August 18th.  Of course, Toni and I were there to support and to be a part of the classic “Nassau Contingent”!  This year we were joined by Jeff and Jessica as well as the ever-present Higgs clan.  Chrystonia and I flew up on the Friday, seeing Grouper and the Higgs party in the airport bound for Freeport.  We opted this year to stay at the Grand Lucayan as they were offering two specials, one for Bahamians and one for everyone, and we opted for the “everyone” as this gave us a nicer room at the same cost!

We – well, I – thought it would be a good idea to try the new Flying Fish restaurant.  The food was as expected, fancy with smaller portions and a bit pricey of course.  While I enjoyed our appetizer and main course, Toni found something off with her main course which was odd considering it was vegetarian.  Unfortunately she fell ill later that night and through the morning, so she stayed in bed for the actual race itself.

We had a great view of the start of the race, and judging by how it looked that morning it didn’t seem to be too bad!  Early Saturday morning I sauntered off to find a marker and I may have slightly confused  the girl working the gift store, as she had to write my race numbers on.  I headed out of the hotel in my speedo and googles to join the start just a few minutes walk down the beach.  I met up with our Nassau Contingent and we prepped for the race, which really didn’t consist of much but a brief swim and some stretching.  The water looked a bit choppy but it didn’t seem any worse than it has been in some of the previous years.

After a prayer by Bert we were off, and immediately I noticed the waves were a bit strong to head into.  The pack thinned quickly and I noticed a few people ahead and a few behind.  As the race dragged on it felt slow, but due to the chop and current it was hard to judge.  Barely did I have time to notice the bottom as breathing was limited to the right (inshore) side only, and even then a breath or two would have to be missed due to a rogue wave.  Spotting proved difficult, so I tried to pop up every few strokes to make sure I was on track.  Twice I ended up much further inshore than I expected, probably adding a minute or two at least to my overall time.

Upon finishing there weren’t that many people in front of me, maybe 4 or 5, so I know it was a decent swim.  The course was very challenging this year, and the finish times reflected it.  The top swimmer (Joshua Rigby, 15, Freeport) finished in 43:21 – compared to times in the low 30’s in previous years.  I’m glad I wasn’t wearing a watch; my time of 47:06 would have been demoralizing as I expected (with previous conditions) to be in the 35 minute zone.  My finish allowed for the top place in the 39 and under male category as well as 6th overall (I believe).  The full results, along with a brief article, can be found on The Bahamas Weekly.

I hung around the finish for a few minutes to see our fellow Nassuvians in before walking back the 1.8 miles or so to the hotel.  Toni had recovered for the most part, and we rested for a bit before joining the beach party in the afternoon.  As usual, the weather had calmed down making the morning’s swim seem like a walk on the beach!  The after-party was great of course, with the USCG having their demonstration along with BASRA.

We finished the weekend with lunch at Agave and a boat cruise with Miranda and Wayne, a beautiful side of Freeport which I had never seen before!

Overall another great event and weekend, and I was pleased with my race performance.  Thanks to the Freeport crew for the great event and I look forward to the Conchman in November and the Great Abaco Family Fitness Weekend in March 2013!

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