Chantel Jeffrey swims in the open water 2.5 km event at the UANA Open Water Championships in the Cayman Islands on June 11.

Warm seas and fast times for Chantel Jeffrey

Local swimmer wins three medals at open water championships in the Cayman Islands

It was a week of firsts for Columbia Shuswap Selkirks swimmer Chantel Jeffrey: Her first trip out of Canada, her first international swim meet and her first ever medals in international competition.

Jeffrey competed in the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) Open Water Swimming championships held in the Cayman Islands from June 9 to 12.

Not only did Jeffrey compete, she found the podium in all three events she swam in, winning gold in the 2.5 km race, silver in the one mile, and bronze in the 5 km.

“It is very exciting to win a gold medal at my very first international meet. I think that representing Salmon Arm and Canada is very cool and I am very honoured to be representing our beautiful country,” she said.

Selkirks head coach Barry Healey says Jeffrey is the first female swimmer from Salmon Arm or the surrounding area to win a medal in international competition.

Jeffrey attended a Swimming Canada training camp in Florida before the competition to prepare her for swimming in the Caribbean sea.

“The tips at the camp that they gave me were strategic and extremely helpful towards today’s event. I used everything they had taught me here to compete today,” Jeffrey told the Observer by email with one day of racing in the Cayman Islands still ahead of her.

Swimming in the tropics, where the water temperature was 28 degrees Celsius, was a big adjustment because she had only ever competed in open water events in Canadian lakes.

“The air is very humid and hot, making it harder to breathe efficiently in a race I find. The warmer temperatures however do not hinder me whatsoever I have found, which is great. I have never even been in the ocean before so racing in it has been a very new experience for me,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey described her first international meet as a very positive experience.

“The event was vibrating with positivity and happiness all around. I even heard there were some internationally known Olympians there such as Alison Schmidt and Ian Crocker.”

A particularly exciting part of the competition for Jeffrey was the open one mile swim, called the Flowers Sea Swim, which had over 1,000 participants.

“It was extremely crowded at the start, but they made a special exemption for the international swimmers to go in the very, very front so that we could get out front and swim as fast as we needed to,” she said.

At the end of the mile, Jeffrey was second in the 15-19 age group and sixth of all women in the event.

Despite the great distances of the events, some came down to the wire for Jeffrey. To earn her first place finish in the 2.5 km race, Jeffrey outpaced Peruvian swimmer Fanny Sanchez by only 0.2 seconds. In the 5 km she was just five seconds behind the first- and second- place swimmers.

“So that would be about five meters after 5 km. I am sure she gave it all and its been a great couple of weeks for her,” Healey said.

While her time in the balmy Cayman Islands is at an end, Jeffrey will have an opportunity to compete in more familiar waters on July 10 as the Selkirks host the Open Water provincial championship at Canoe Beach.

Just Posted

Glenrosa residents asked to secure garbage

WildSafeB.C. issues warning about bears

UPDATE: Car engulfed in flames in Winfield

Firefighters were able to extinguish the burning car quickly

Kelowna boat retailers worry about tit-for-tat tariffs by U.S. and Canada

A 10 per cent tariff on new boats coming into Canada is prompting big cuts to boat orders

Used needle falls from sky in Vernon

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Lake Country Parents disturbed by song lyrics

The name of the song by a local musician is ‘Amber Alert’

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

New Jersey forward Taylor Hall wins Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

Vancouver’s Sedin brothers share King Clancy Award for humanitarian efforts

Unfiltered: IPAs explained with Cannery Brewing brewmaster

Checking out the new IPA created by Penticton brewery Cannery Brewing Company

Man gets 2 years in prison for assault on Okanagan Correctional officer

Union rep said inmate sucker punched correctional officer, continued assault after officer fell

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

Most Read