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HomeNewsLocal newsThe Beach-to-Beach Power Swim Celebrates Park Resources and Families

The Beach-to-Beach Power Swim Celebrates Park Resources and Families

Maho Beach was a colorful sight, as swimmers of all ages and abilities put on their colored caps, which signified their finishing beach, before getting into the water for the swim. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

Ranking as one of the most beautiful swims in the world, the Power Swim, taking place in national park waters on St. John, is number seven on the World’s Top 100 Island Swims and this year the 21st Annual Beach-to-Beach Power Swim on Sunday had more swimmers sign up than ever before.

Friends of the Park added to their permit, enabling 365 participants, but they still had a waiting list of 40. The event was designed to include swim levels of participants from six years old to 81.

Azalea Nesbitt, 6, was the youngest swimmer in the 21st Annual Beach to Beach Swim on St. John. (Source photo by
Nancy Borowick)

It was a family-centered event, with about 30 families and couples registered. One of the participants, Margaret Kemp, who is 33 weeks pregnant, said, “Train them young.”

Sarah Swan smiled at the excited crowd on Maho Bay Beach, saying, “It’s our St. John family.”

Chris Meyers, one of the twenty-five returning veteran swimmers, said, “I’m thankful for the chance to swim the north shore and grateful to all the organizers.”

It took 137 volunteers and 64 sponsors to make this a safe success.

Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park volunteers were hard at work on race day, applying temporary tattoos identifying race numbers to participants’ arms and legs. The multi-beach power swim began at Maho Beach, with the first swimmers heading out at 7 a.m. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

This year, Alfredo Del Olmo is swimming with his sister, Federica Del Olmo. He said the Power Swim has been marked on his family’s calendar for twenty-one years, and each time someone visits to join the returning veteran swimmer. He has not missed a year but has yet to swim with his wife, Veronica, who was selected for the Argentina Olympic Swim Team in 1992.

The first swimmers into the water in their bright green swimmers’ caps were the participants in the long course, swimming 3.5 miles to Hawksnest Beach. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

The Gleason brothers, who won first and second place, traveled from St. Croix with their parents, Jason and Malerie Gleason. A new course record was set by Kaeden Gleason, swimming the 3.5-mile race in 1:09:26. The 16-year-old finished less than ten minutes ahead of his 14-year-old brother, Teague Gleason, who placed second in 1:19:20.

Kaeden and Teague’s mother had been the assistant coach for the St. Croix Dolphins. Now, the brothers are on the V.I. National Swim Team and the V.I. Open Water Swim Team, where Kaeden won a bronze medal in the 5k Open Water at Carifta, Bahamas. The Virgin Islands Swimming Federation Open Water swim clinics will be on St. Croix and St. Thomas in August and September 2024.

During the 21st annual Beach to Beach Power Swim, swimmers in pink caps challenged themselves to swim from Maho Beach to Trunk Beach. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

The Hempel family was the winner of the relay race. Clinton, Cathryn, and Joss Hempel traveled from Jost Van Dyke and finished the race in 1:35:34.

Three teenagers won the top spots overall in the unassisted long course. Lindsay Barr, hailing from St. Thomas, crossed the finish line at 1:23:04. The returning champion beat her time from last year and again placed first in the women’s category long course.

Kaeden Gleason, 16, Lindsay Barr, 19, and Teague Gleason, 14, arrived at Hawksnest Beach first, taking the top three spots for the unassisted long course. Kaeden Gleason came in first, followed by his little brother Teague and right behind him was Lindsay Barr. Kaeden also set a new course record, completing the power swim in 1:09:26. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

Katie Papa, 30, from New York, was the second-place female finisher, and Krista Polvi, 41, from Idaho, was third. Adam Steckley, 53, from Miami, was the third-place male finisher.

A lone swimmer takes their time, passing Trunk Bay Beach on their way to the finish line at Hawksnest Beach. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

In the spirit of founder Joe Kessler and his wife Cristina, who both tragically died April 25,  the Power Swim has grown into the inclusive family event they envisioned in 2004. Both were supportive of swimming and dreamed of sharing this with a variety of people. Locals and travelers come together each Memorial Day weekend to participate in the seven races and thirteen different age groups.

Long-time participant of the power swim Jeff Miller shares some words with Friends of the VINP president Tonya Lovejoy about old friend and original organizer of the Beach to Beach swim Joe Kessler, who recently passed away with his wife in a tragic accident on the mainland. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

Applause erupted when a new sign was unveiled at the awards ceremony at Trunk Bay. It was announced that the event’s name is now “Joe’s Beach-to-Beach Power Swim.”

In honor of the late Joe Kessler, the Beach to Beach Power Swim will now be known as “Joe’s,” remembering his vision and enthusiasm and love for the event and St. John. (Source photo by Nancy Borowick)

Karen Brady traveled back to St. John to see how the event has grown. She had worked with Joe in the past and said, “What a legacy for Joe.” Jeff Miller summed it up best with the message written on his back, “Thanks, Joe.”

For more photos, click here.

Official Race Results


Long Unassisted Female
Lindsay Barr
Age 19, from St Thomas VI
Time 1:23:04

2nd place
Katie Papa
Age 30 from New York, NY
Time 1:26:51

3rd place
Krista Polvi
Age 41 from McCall, Idaho Time 1:29:44

Kaeden Gleason
Time 1:09:26
Age 16
From Christiansted, VI

2nd place
Teague Gleason
Time 1:19:20
Age 14
From Christiansted, VI

3rd place
Adam Steckley
Time 1:23:50
Age 53 from Miami, FL

1st place
Elizabeth Basham
Time 1:27 :37
Age 38 from St. John VI

2nd place
Korena Calder
Time 1:30:44
Age 36 from St. John VI

3rd place
Cyndi Good
Time 1:40:25
Age 66 from St. John VI

1st place
Bradley Flowers
Time 1:24:34
Age 42 from St Thomas VI

2nd place
Tyler Maltby
Time 1:34:27
Age 46 from St Thomas VI

3rd place
Robert Tutton
Time 1:36:12
Age 53 from St. Thomas VI

1st place
Hempel Family
Time 1:35: 34
Clinton, Cathryn, Joss Hempel
Jost Van Dyke, BVI

2nd place
Team Hollander
Time 1:43:32
St. Thomas, VI
Tyler S, Erin Hollander, Lindsay Dade

3rd place
Team Roth and Walsh
Time 2:10.26
Tell City, IN
Caroline Roth, Breanne Walsh, Blair Walsh


1st place
Marina Falcone
Time 45:48
Age 36 from Christiansted, VI

2nd place
Hannah Wells
Time 55.31
Age 33 from Road Town, Tortola

3rd place
Autumn Busiere
Time 55.59
Age 25 from St. Thomas, VI

1st place
Corina Marks
Time 56:51
Age 40 from Frederiksted, VI

2nd place
Louise Langello
Time 58.17
Age 36 from St. Thomas, VI

3rd place
Ella Barr
Time 59.42
Age 22 from St. Thomas, VI

1st place
Kalonji Von Schilling Royer
Time 45.37
Age 15 from Kingshill, VI

2nd place
Zion John Baptiste
Time 53.56
Age 14 from St. Thomas, VI

3rd place
Bryan Mason
Time 55.05
Age 49 from St. Thomas, VI

1st place
Ryan Flegal
Time 56.56
Age 50 from Frederiksted, VI

2nd place
Ray Vittum
Time 59.58
Age 28 from St. Thomas, VI

3rd place
Jan Bijan Tawakol
Time 1:02:33
Age 53 from Christiansted, VI


Short Female Unassisted
1st place
Rachel Bello
Time 20:34
Age 19 from Bingham Farms, MI

2nd place
Alessandra Poe
Time 22:01
Age 15 from St. Thomas, VI

3rd place
Mayah Goel
Time 23.52
Age 19 from West Bloomfield, MI

1st place
Deborah Reyes
Time 31.44
Age 58 from Columbia, SC

2nd place
Kristen Carmichael-Bowers
Time 31:55
Age 56 from St. John, VI

3rd place
Rosanne Loyd
Time 32.42
Age 51 from St. John VI

1st place
Scott Hensley
Time 20:52
Age 41 from Christiansted, VI

2nd place
John Flowers
Time 23:27
Age 52 from Hingham, MA

3rd place
Kevin Ouderkirk
Time 23:48
Age 53 from Missouri City, TX

1st place
Robert Tullius
Time 26.24
Age 29 from St. John, VI

2nd place
Doug Brockbank
Time 29:09
Age 70 from Washougal, WA

3rd place
Maxim McMahon
Time 32:07
Age 17 from St. John, VI

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