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Nevis-to-St Kitts cross channel swim set for March 25

IN AT THE DEEP END: The annual event is both a race and a challenge

THIS YEAR'S edition of the Nevis-to-St Kitts cross-channel swim, known as the Bente Weber Memorial Swim, will take place on the March 25, with hundreds of swimmers bracing themselves for the crossing from Oualie Beach on the picturesque island of Nevis towards Cockleshell Bay on the sister island of St. Kitts. This location is said to be the most luxurious and picturesque for open water swims, and preparations are well on their way to welcome athletes from across the world for their 18th annual competition.

The phrase 'open water swimming' often conjures images of desolate and cold lakes, brave souls taking a dip in the channel or secluded natural ponds where wetsuit-clad enthusiasts are found getting their adrenaline filled water fix. Golden sands, clear water, and tropical wildlife don't usually factor into the image, let alone sun-soaked beaches. But it is exactly this that makes the St. Kitts-Nevis swim one of a kind. This year, there will be a new addition, as the race will now end at the Park Hyatt on St. Kitts for the first time!

The 2.5 miles (4.1km) swim offers entrants the chance to experience open water swimming in water so clear that the bottom of the seabed and local sea life is noticeably visible (expect to be joined by giant sea turtles along the way). Water temperatures of 24-26 degrees ensure that the Nevis to St. Kitts Cross-Channel event will be an open water swimmer’s dream.

The annual event is both a race and a challenge. It’s the only open water event that takes place between two Caribbean islands and promises those involved a spectacular atmosphere.

For serious swimmers, the competitive atmosphere enhances the potential to break records and earn a cash prize. For challenge athletes, it is a great opportunity to make such a rare crossing under controlled and safe conditions, with athletes permitted to use whatever non-mechanical assistance they need to get across the one of a kind route; fins, mask & snorkel, wetsuits etc.

Incredible sights await the competitors. The cone of the volcano - the defining feature of Nevis - forms the backdrop to the annual event. The volcano which stands at one kilometre tall and is often submerged in puffy white clouds creates a magnificent landscape. Swimming against the backdrop of not one but two Caribbean islands will surely beat pounding up and down the lanes of a local pool any day.

Last year saw a record number of finishers (226) and the inclusion of Special Olympics SKN in the relay team format. A new course record was set by former Olympian Ashley Whitney with a stunning time of 55.28. Ashley isn’t the only Olympian attracted to the event, with British open water legend Keri-anne Payne set to compete alongside some of the world’s best open water swimmers.

Of her upcoming experience, Keri-anne comments, “I absolutely love the Nevis to St Kitts cross-channel swim because swimming from one island to another is a really unique open water experience. To top that off you get swim over some of the most amazing wildlife like sea turtles and stingrays! A swim not to miss!”

Additionally, Keri-anne will be running a series of Triscape open water clinics with her husband, Commonwealth gold medalist David Carry. Hosted in partnership with The Nisbet Plantation on Nevis, the classes will precede the Cross-Channel swim on March 23 and 24. They are designed for swimmers of all abilities, from people wanting to learn how to swim, those wanting to take on an open water challenge and seasoned swimmers looking to improve their times.

The island will also be hosting the Nevis Marathon and Running Festival on September 8, which will also include a 5k, 10k and a half marathon race. Additionally, on November 17 the Nevis Triathlon - which offers distances for beginners to experienced triathletes - will attract a multitude of athletes to the alluring destination.

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