Though it started out as a gloomy day, after a good shower the day became a glorious one, just in time to make it a huge success for the Bahama Air Sea Rescue Association’s 37th Annual Bernie Butler Swim and Beach Party.
Saturdays BASRA event is always a highlight for local Grand Bahamians who love to swim and have fun in our beautiful waters. “It’s great too see so many familiar faces and new ones on the beach this year” said Godfrey Waugh, BASRA Chairman, “we were worried that the inclement weather was going to put damper on the festivities but our supporters have come out here in full force today!”
With just under a 100 swimmers registered the 37th two mile swim began at ten am in front of Our Lucaya lighthouse area. This years’ expected winner, John Bradley, was beaten by a tourist who decided to jump in and race when he saw the start of the event. “My dad and I were watching and saw all the competitors” said 15 year old Naples, Florida visitor Harry Stephenson, “I am a swimmer so I thought let me see if I can join in.”
Though Harry raced unofficially he was the first to touch the finish line, which is just past Coral Beach, in just over 26 minutes, one of the fastest times ever recorded for the swim. John Bradley, the official winner, touched in at 29 minutes and 14 seconds, a personal best. Closing in on him and officially finishing second was 13-year-old Evanti Gibson with Michael McIntosh finishing third.
The ladies champion was Kadesha Culmer a local fifteen year old with Stacey Bradley and Sabrina Barry taking second and third. Returning co-founder of the annual swim, Harriet Lynch and her daughter Bahama also returned this year for the race. Both finished proudly with Bahama capturing first place in her age group as well as her mom, who was also the oldest female swimmer.
Once the race concluded all the activities began at Coral Beach Resort with hamburgers and hot dogs by Rotary, freshly made conch salad and a well stocked bar by Bristol Wines and Spirits. In addition the directors also had t-shirts on sale and other BASRA paraphernalia.
The much-anticipated BASRA bikini calendar was launched and on sale at the beach, with many of the calendars models in attendance. “I‘ve had some great reviews on my calendar month,” said Jeff Butler, of Butler’s Specialty, sponsor of the October page “but I am not sure I am going to live down the front cover shot!”
The new four colour calendar sponsored by local companies is a pure profit calendar for the association and will now go on sale at local merchants stores: Unexso, Butler’s Specialty, Sampona Imports, Bristol Wines and Spirits, and Top Notch. The calendar also has it’s own website at www.basracalendar.com where interested persons can learn more about the making of the calendar, download wallpaper for their computers and vote for their favorite model.
In the late afternoon the medal ceremonies began. Directors and organizers were very pleased to have on hand local Minister and MP for High Rock Kenneth Russell as well as Minister of State for Youth, Sports and Culture Byron Woodside who helped present the awards. Both Ministers were given complimentary t-shirts and challenged to swim in the 38th event along with local swim coach Bert Bell.
“Today was such a great day and I really need to thank my committee and all our sponsors who have made it possible. The money made today means we will be able to go out for another year and save lives on the sea,” concluded Waugh. To find our more details about BASRA visit their website at www.basragrandbahama.com and to help support their efforts please buy a calendar when you visit one of the calendar retail locations.