Some 400 swimmers have registered, including a record 253 from overseas, to compete in the 29th Butterfield & Vallis Round the Sound swim on Sunday.
The event, supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, is the largest on the Open Water Bermuda race calendar and will involve four distances, ten kilometres, 4k, 2k and 800 metres.
It also acts as a substantial fundraiser for the Bermuda Zoological Society, raising in the region of $15,000 annually to support the various education programmes run by BZS. Over the years the Round the Sound has generated over $350,000 for local charities.
The four courses will all finish at the Aquarium, with the 10k participants competing a full loop of Harrington Sound, plus a diversion around Trunk Island.
Nick Strong, the race director, said: “Round the Sound is a long-standing part of the Bermuda swimming scene, while allowing us to give back to the education programmes for schoolchildren to better understand and appreciate how special their island home is.
“The support from Butterfield & Vallis, Bermuda Tourism Authority and a large number of volunteers is imperative to help us put together a world-class event.”
Mike Cash, of Bermuda Open Water Swimming, and co- ordinator of the overseas participants, stated: “Round the Sound is an event which allows Bermuda to be recognised on the world radar for open-water swimming.
“This year we will have overseas representatives from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Israel, Brazil and Switzerland. With visitors aged 13 to 71, we draw from a wide range of backgrounds. Grotto Bay is our host hotel and they do a fabulous job of welcoming our swimmers and their guests. Somehow, it’s never too hard for swimmers to persuade their non-swimming family members to join them on our beautiful island!”
The Bermuda contingent includes a wide range of ages too, including noted masters swimmer Chris Smith, who is still competing at the age of 87. He will take part in the 2k swim.
Erik Soria will be defending his 10k title and looking to make it four in a row over that distance, while Eileen Mullowney will not be on the island, leaving her title up for grabs.
Many swimmers have been training hard for the challenge, with the 10k being roughly a time equivalent to running a marathon. Despite work commitments that has kept him off the island for much of the last several months, Soria has been training and ready to defend his title.
“This is always a huge event on the open-water calendar, so you do what you can to get the distance preparation done,” Soria said.
“The huge overseas entrant field means you never know who will be a potential challenger, including high school swimmer from Tennessee, Jake Mason, who is moving up to the 10k after crushing the field at 4k in 2018.”
Round the Sound is sanctioned by Open Water Bermuda, and organised by Bermuda Open Water Swimming.
For more information about other open water swims on the island, interested parties can e-mail Bermuda Open Water Swimming at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration for Round the Sound can be found at https://runsignup.com/Race/Events/BM/Smiths/RoundTheSoundSwim