CHRISTIANSTED, ST. CROIX—The 23rd Annual St. Croix Coral Reef Swim—held Sunday, November 11—drew global participation and even capped at its limit of 100 entrants for the five-mile race. The race drew 196 participants total, with entrants divided among all three swim race events. Participants enjoyed the clear and calm ocean waters and were able to see a variety of marine life, including sea turtles, sand sharks, sting rays and starfish before finishing at The Buccaneer’s palm-lined beach.
The Buccaneer is the oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean. Its owner, Elizabeth Armstrong, established the Coral Reef Swim in 1995 with fellow swimmer Kim Sanford as a fundraiser for The Nature Conservancy, with the goal of preserving and restoring coral reefs.
The five-mile race was won by renowned open water champion Ricardo Valdiva from Miami (1:53:56). He was followed by Charlottesville’s Rob Jones (2:01:12) in second place, and 1996 Olympian Ashley Whitney from Nashville, who earned third place (2:08:37).
Two-Mile Swim Winners
The two-mile swim race winners were Marina Falcone from Tampa (54:03); Jack Zedlitz from Oklahoma City (56.05); and St. Croix’s own Jaiden Soe Camacho, who is only 14 years old (56:11). The one-mile swim winners included Justin Chiles from Washington, D.C. (24.31); Amara Rivera, also from Washington D.C. (29.27); and Tony Schumacher from Fort Collins, Colo.
Entrants hailed from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Trinidad, and swimmers ranged in ages from 11 to 77.
Sponsors for this year race included The Buccaneer, Paddlesurf St. Croix, US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Caribbean Sea Adventures, Bellows International, Terero II, Coca Cola, Cruzan Rum, Captain Heinz, Big Beard’s Adventure Tours, St. Croix Yacht Club, QE IV Ferry, Gallows Bay Marine, Anton and Alek Kuipers, Davidson Charlemaine and St. Croix EMS.
Next year’s race will be held November 10, 2019.