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

Telephone poles placed in centre of sidewalk angers West Kelowna watchdog

Audience Group calls placement of poles in new Boucherie Road upgrade project ‘idiocy’

Kelowna asking public to help update its Cultural Plan

Second survey this year to posted to gather public input about cultural programs and services

Three candidates drop out of Central Okanagan municipal election

Two running for Peachland/OK West trustee and OK East rural director candidate step aside

West Kelowna water warning downgraded

City lowers boil water notice for Lakeview water system to a water quality advisory

Ancestral remains uncovered at Fintry to be reburied

Remains found along Shorts Creek in Fintry Provincial Park during flood remediation measures

Your weekend weather update

Rain continues to move right across the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Low risk associated with case of pneumococcal disease in the South Okanagan

No identified risk to the public from recent case of pneumococcal disease with associated meningitis

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read