May 31, 2005 A Virgin Islands National Team swimmer shattered last year's time on the long course at the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park 2nd Annual Beach-to-Beach Power Swim on Sunday. Kieran Locke, 21, of St. Croix took first place with a time of 1:11:41 on the 3-1/2 mile course from Maho Bay to Hawksnest Bay along St. John's north shore beaches.
Other national team swimmers included Josh Laban, 22, from St. Croix and Locke's brother, Morgan, taking 2nd and 3rd places with times of 1:11:41 and 1:14:46, well below last year's winning time of 1:21:15, set by 14 year-old Brandon Whitehurst of St. Croix.
This open-water event drew a field of more than 125 swimmers from around the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.
"In order to make this event accessible and challenging for all levels of swimmers, participants can choose from four different events in which to compete, and can also choose to compete in a special 'assisted' category, using snorkel, mask, fins and exposure suits," said race director and Friends president Joe Kessler.
Other courses included a short course from Maho Bay to Cinnamon Bay, a distance of about one mile, and an intermediate course from Maho Bay to Trunk Bay, a distance of about 2-1/4 miles.
Event Winner City, State Time
Long Course-Solo Male , Kieran Locke, St. Croix, VI 1:11:39
Long Course-Solo Female, Kathleen Laseter, St. John, VI 1:44:15
Long Course-Solo Assisted Male, John Holden, Orlando, FL, 1:42:36
Long Course-Solo Assisted Female, Beth McMurray, St. Thomas, VI 1:39:06
Long Course-Relay, Kauffman/Cannell, St. John/MA, 2:15:54
Long Course-Relay Assisted, del Olmo/Dellape/Llipsa, St. John, VI 1:36:00
Intermediate Course Male, Chase Olivieri, Condado, PR, 0:50:04
Intermediate Course Female, Damara Merten-Farwell, St. John, VI, 1:04:05
Intermediate Course-Assisted Male, David Holzman, St. Thomas, VI, 1:05:07
Intermediate Course-Assisted Female, Jan Courlas, St. John, VI, 1:46:17
Short Course Male, Kevin Hensley, St. Croix, VI, 0:19:27
Short Course Female, Megan Iffland, St. John, VI, 0:26:40
Short Course-Assisted Male, James Whitehurst, St. Croix, VI, 0:23:58
Short Course-Assisted Female, Sarah Armstrong, Owensboro, KY 0:31:15
While the turnout was slightly less than last year's 142 swimmers, "we are still very pleased with the number of swimmers that participated and look forward to growing this event in years to come," said Kessler. "It's a great event and a wonderful way to celebrate the waters and beaches of Virgin Islands National Park — two of the park's most spectacular features."
There are many businesses and people that make an event like this possible. "We truly appreciate and thank major sponsors American Paradise Real Estate, Maho Bay Camps, Hawaiian Tropic, St. John Insurance Agency, Mongoose Junction, Topa, Alfredo's Landscaping, and Theodore Tunick & Co., and the many, many other businesses that have contributed time, money, product and effort. Thank you all for your tremendous support. We could not hold this event without their support," said Friends' development director Karen Brady. "And a special thank you to Mo Chabuz and Skinny Legs for hosting the awards ceremony and BBQ at Oppenheimer Beach this year. The beach party was great fun, and a lot of hungry people got fed!"
More than 75 people volunteered their time to staff the start and finish lines, the water and safety boats, the kayaks and other key spots. "So many people gave their time to ensure the swim went off safely and that everyone had a good time. We can't thank them enough," said Emily Burton, program manager for Friends.
The funds raised at the event will go to support the National Park Service's summer Learn to Swim program, annual REEF Fish Count and other projects at the Virgin Islands National Park.
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