Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim

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No trip to St. Kitts is finished without a swim in its turquoise waters. Some visitors prefer to wade along the coast. Others make time for a leisurely day of snorkeling and diving. If you’re looking for something still more intense, rest assured: We’ve got something in store for you.

Each year, hundreds of competitors from across the world come to the Federation to participate in the Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim. Now in its 17th year, what started as a simple memorial has blossomed into one of the Caribbean’s favorite open water swimming events. World-class athletes rub shoulders with recreational swimmers, all gathering to support a noble cause.

The annual event began in 2002, when members of a local club organized a swim across The Narrows — the 2.5-mile-wide strait between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis — in honor of Bente Weber, a member of their group who lost their battle with cancer.

Eventually, the race caught on. Over time, more and more swimmers joined the field. Nowadays, over 200 athletes regularly take part, hailing from nations as diverse as the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Brazil.

In the past, some of the biggest names in aquatics have made the trip to the islands: Two-time Olympic triathlete Olivier Marceau held the course record until 2017, when American swimmer — and gold medal-winning Olympian — Ashley Whitney completed it in 55 minutes, 28 seconds.

Each year, the race follows the same course. Competitors gather on Nevis’ Oualie Beach, taking to the water and cutting a direct path to Cockleshell Beach on neighboring St. Kitts. For the average swimmer, the course takes well over an hour to conquer. The views, though, make it well worthwhile; The Narrows’ waters are crystal-clear, giving participants unobstructed views of the sea floor.

However, the course’s natural beauty is just one of its draws. While prizes are awarded to top finishers, the Cross Channel Swim is an inclusive event. Finish times are secondary: If interested, entrants can don fins and a snorkel to aid them across — or to give them an extended look at the flora and fauna in the depths below.

Beyond its commemorative function, the event also serves a greater purpose. In addition to offering turtle-shaped trophies, its organizers have joined forces with the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network to raise awareness for the waters’ endangered inhabitants. They’ve also renewed their partnership with the Kittitian chapter of the Special Olympics; they hope to continue the Team Relay classification that made its debut in 2019 and to boost international participation in the division.

Interested? Grab your swim cap and hit the lap pool; March 27th will be here before you know it.

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