Jamaica Inn Foundation launches Open Water Swim meet to benefit White River Fish SanctuaryWednesday, October 27, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
The Jamaica Inn Foundation is hoping that its inaugural Open Water Swim event can garner enough funds to assist the White River Fish Sanctuary in continuing its work to protect, restore, and engage the marine environment.
Dubbed 'Swim for the Sanctuary', the Open Water Swim event, scheduled for November 6, is expected to attract a large contingent of Jamaica's past and present aquatic talent for a worthy cause.
White River Beach, situated east of Shaw Park Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios, will play venue for the event, sanctioned by the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) and Jamaica Tourist Board through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Kyle Mais, director of Jamaica Inn Foundation, expressed delight in having this new event on their calendar to assist in funding the sanctuary, despite being in a pandemic era.
On that note, he pointed out that strict COVID-19 protocols will be observed throughout the event.
“The customary funding that we used to rely on for the sanctuary effectively dried up because the hotel sector has been hit really hard due to the pandemic. So we went back to the drawing board and came up with this idea, which is a no-brainer.
“It's outdoors, it's exercise-oriented, and it's wide-reaching, so it really has some great attributes and one of the greatest assets is that it is water based, which really does fit with what we are trying to achieve,” Mais said during the event's launch at the Spanish Court Hotel yesterday.
Georgia Sinclair, ASAJ's vice-president in charge of swimming, said offering their support to the event came easy, particularly with this being the first Open water swim to be contested on Jamaica's shores in over two years.
“We are delighted to have endorsed and be associated with this event in a meaningful way, because the project that you are supporting is commendable and the fact that the funds to be raised will go towards the sanctuary. The Jamaica Inn Foundation, therefore, should also be commended for its role in advancing and promoting aquatics in Jamaica through the hosting of this event,” Sinclair noted.
Entry fee is $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for relay teams, as swimmers between the ages of nine to 60 years will engage in events ranging from 500 metres to 3km.
The funds raised will enable the four-year-old White River Fish Sanctuary to continue its work in increasing the marine life population.
So far, the sanctuary has achieved the '500 in 5' biomass goal and has enjoyed much success in its outreach programmes conducted mainly by its wardens who are also intent on raising the awareness of the sanctuary's importance.
It is with that in mind that Rojah Thomas, commercial director of Caribbean Producers Jamaica, says his organisation had to support the initiative, given their vested interest in preserving marine life.
“Our hearts have always been committed to the support of the marine environment; like, we have worked through our care protect initiative with the Montego Bay Marine Park. So it's not new to us, it's something we have always been interested in, and this is a great initiative to be aware of and geared to preservation,” said Thomas.
Meanwhile, TEF's Executive Director Carey Wallace also lent his voice to the proceedings, stating that this event has the potential for growth to drive Jamaica's tourism product.