The 2011 Bernie Butler BASRA Swim was held on August 20th, in Freeport, Grand Bahama. (Wow, it’s been over a year since I started this blog and this adventure!)
This year’s Nassau contingent consisted of myself and Mike, with supporting cast Sarah, Sam and Kim. Also present were the Higgs’ clan including Grouper himself and his father. We headed up Friday night, settled in to our average stuck in the 70’s (but cheap!) hotel, the Bell Channel Inn. We headed down to registration on Taino Beach and then went to Port Lucaya for a good but very filling dinner at Shenanigans!
Friday morning we were up early and headed to breakfast in the hotel. OK, we were not up as early as I thought as Mike, Sam and Kim were finishing breakfast as Sarah and I came in. We headed down to the finish area to get body marked. The water was rougher than we had hoped (and than last year). We got checked in and hopped in the car with Sam to get dropped off to the start area. Yes we’re lazy, and so is Dave, who joined us for the ride. They almost didn’t let us cut through one of the hotels in Port Lucaya in our speedos, but once explained they escorted us through!
We prepared for the race with the usual prayer session with Bert Bell, and swam out for the start, an in-water start off the anchor line of a boat. We pushed the start, and I felt good. As the pack thinned out I noticed one guy still swimming in and around me. He drafted off me as much as possible even with the (inadvertent, of course) kick or two I gave him. There was some swell and some decent chop. I think I managed to hold a decent pace, mainly because at the end I didn’t have the extra oomph to sprint with the ramora-like swimmer that had been latched on to me for about half the race.
I ended up 13th overall with a time of 37:56. This was not far behind Mike in 6th with 36:14. We both won our age groups, this is the one year in 10 that Mike and I will be in separate divisions! Overall I feel we competed well! Grouper had no finish time because he started and jumped out of the water to take photos (pre-approved early entry, unlike Ferdie several years before!) Peter brought up the back of the pack but still finishing with a respectable time of under an hour! Sarah ended up with a time of something like 14 minutes, but that’s because she decided to run it instead of swim it! Sam and Kim finished up 3rd or 4th…I mean 3 or 4 beers!
Reports were that there were two hammerheads sharks spotted! There’s a reason why fogged googles and choppy waters can be a benefit!
I didn’t get many photos of the event, hopefully I can find some somewhere. But the after party was great! The fundraiser for BASRA was very well organized and (I hope) successful. We ended up in the Higg’s tent where there was plenty of good food and drink and fun! The USCG made an appearance and a rescue show in their chopper, and the dolphins from UNEXO showed up for a demonstration! We made it through to the presentation, definitely not with our wits about us (Mike) and had a great time. Nassau, as usual, was a strong showing for aged groupers! We continued the party well into the early evening, and headed home.
We finished the evening with dinner at Red Beard’s, which was amazing. Great fresh mango daiquiri’s and good sandwiches. Mike missed it due to being “asleep”, however he decided to wake up around 11pm and be wired and ready to go out! He got denied and I believe retired once again. We closed out Sunday with a trip to Port Lucaya and a few beers, before sending Sarah back to Abaco and ourselves back to Nassau.
Another great event and fundraiser down, many thanks to BASRA Freeport and the organizers including (but not limited to) Jill and Bert. I look forward to competing again in 2012, and hopefully getting an ever stronger team together!