The Dolphin Swim Club- Kicking things up a Notch for 2022!

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Dolphin Swim Club has been a staple, open-water training club in our country since 1986.  Thousands of swimmers across the years have developed and honed their skills under the caring, talented coaching of the Edwards Family. Swim days are held equally on calm days and rough days, on cold days and when the sun is so bright that the biggest moon jellyfish accompany us on practice.  On days like those, particularly when the giant jellyfish compete with swimmers for the most graceful dive, our screams are met with chuckles from our instructors, who remind us that we are open-water swimmers.

It is also not uncommon to witness the transformation of wading toddlers into chiseled, confident adults, expertly slicing through the roughest of waters with ease and grace. Not all club members begin as toddlers. The club also has the knack to convert petrified adults into expert swimmers, adults who soon end up successfully completing long distance open-water events such as the Great Sisters Swim.

And on occasions alumni turn out to reunite and inspire the team, as in the case of Elvira Bell, a former Dolphin swimmer, known widely for being a member of the amazing Team Antigua Island Girls.  This team, made up of Elvira, Christal Clashing, Kevinia Francis and Samara Emmanuel answered the call for an all-female team hailing from our country to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic in the #TaliskerWhiskyAtlanticChallenge. Dubbed the world’s toughest row, the teams start off from San Sebastian, La Gomera, Canary Islands, ending up at our very own English Harbour, Antigua.  Team Antigua Island Girls completed their historic journey on 28th January, 2019.

In January, 2022, we awoke to the news that Team Antigua Islands Girls would be #OnTheRowAgain. This time, competing in the inaugural Pacific leg of the Talisker Whisky Challenge.  Scheduled to take place in 2023, the ladies are both training and raising funds to take on this next great adventure.

The Dolphins Swim Club jumped to the challenge to offer what support we could, for as the saying goes in Antigua and Barbuda, one one full basket!  Near to the end of February, club members were advised that we would be participating in a two-part; first ever Kick for Cause Kick-A-Thon, to raise funds for the Team Antigua Island Girls.

Bright and early on 2nd April, a group of 24 swimmers, most of which are beginners, would kick their way down the entire length of Fort James Beach.  At 7:30am excited club members from 5 years old to over 60 years old converged at the beginning of the beach, by Millers by the Sea.  Family and friends were also there to cheer them on and of course to meet members of the Team Antigua Island Girls!  There was excitement evidenced by the low hum of chatter, eruption of giggles, and the selfies with Kevinia and Elvira. This livened the mood of an already beautiful Saturday morning.  After greetings, a prayer, group photos and instructions, the swimming contingent was broken up into groups, and they were off! One group after the other, ebullient swimmers dashed into the water and started their kicks, which would take them down to the end, at Beach Limerz.  The supporters walked along the sand, cheering the groups, and the teams made it down in less than the time allotted for completion.  One swimmer, whose kick was not as developed as the others, stuck it out, and was cheered on by members of the club, who re-entered the water to kick the course with him.

The 9th April was an equally beautiful morning, waves flat, with the scintillating, impossibly turquoise, clear water for which the Caribbean is famous. The coastguard and lifeguards were on the periphery, and three island girls were present that day: Kevinia, Samara, and Elvira. When a swimmer inquired of Elvira, “How do the girls feel about this event,” she kindly responded with a smile, and said, “We are all happy and excited.  We were happy to watch the swimmers take off last Saturday, and look forward to the same success today. It’s all been very exciting.”

This time, 48 more advanced swimmers with stronger kicks kicked from Runaway Beach, taking the bend and kicked their hearts out all the way to Fort James Beach. Instructors in each group encouraged their team in various ways.  One instructor, as we entered the water, playfully imitated the start of the flight, directing us to fasten seatbelts, showing where emergency exits (coastguard boats) could be found, but gently hinting (warning) that we would need no such exits today. One group had a kick-drill song, and when they rounded the corner, they could be heard with sheer defiance and determination. This was met by a rupture of applause from supporters who were eagerly waiting for the first sighting of the swimmers to arrive at Fort James Beach.

All the participants completed the course, and were welcomed ashore by cheers, hugs and high-fives.  The inaugural Dolphin Swim Club Kick for a Cause Kick-A-Thon raised $2,600XCD to support Team Antigua Island Girls. Special thanks to the sponsors of the event, Cool and Smooth, Shouls Toys Gifts and Housewares, Graphic Impact Prints, and the Lifeguards in the Ministry of Tourism and the ABDF Coast Guard for the safety support in the water.

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