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In 1987, a 39 year old swimming professional from Martinique swam across the channel from Martinique to St Lucia and completed a return trip. This event instigated a promise that is being fulfilled 30 years later.
Jacques Sicot, two-time Masters World champion with over 50 French champion titles, has accomplished many challenging feats during those 30 years.
He has swum from Martinique to Dominica to Guadeloupe; he’s swum around the entire island of Martinique. Yet his promise to come back to St Lucia and swim around the island was left untouched – until JULY 3rd, 2017!
Jacques Sicot (69) and his companions, Luria Gilbert (18) and Cathy Seichepine (59), set forth through the support of Caraib Swim to complete a mission that many felt was impossible. His brother, Clery Boror (61), escorted the team via kayak each stage of the way.
The support crew from Martinque was made up of friends as well as emergency personnel that volunteered their time. As mentioned in the Event Presentation, this adventure is hoped to inspire and develop local open water swimming, invigorate clean seas and clean beaches campaigns, and fortify a relationship between Martinique and St Lucia.
As I spoke with various persons in villages around St Lucia, I had one man actually tell me “Mate fou!” I can assure you, not only was Jacques serious but the determination of the whole team was astounding. Each day of the 12 stage event taking place over a 2 week period, they set forth to swim an average of 10K.
According to FINA – the world governing body for swimming – this length is a marathon in swimming! Imagine completing a marathon on a daily basis. Jacques stated that this was a challenge to complete not a competition for time, so safety was first and foremost for all involved.
Day 1 – Monday July 3 Gros Islet – Castries 10,814M
Day 2 – Tuesday July 4 Castries – Anse La Raye 10,457M
Day 3 – Wednesday July 5 Anse La Raye – Soufriere 12,377M
Day 4 – Thursday July 6 Soufriere – Choiseul 10,823M
Day 5 – Friday July 7 OFF DAY
Day 6 – Saturday July 8 Choiseul – Laborie 6,145M
Day 7 – Sunday July 9 Laborie – Vieux Fort 5,407M
Day 8 – Monday July 10 Vieux Fort – Savannes Bay 12,098M
Day 9 – Tuesday July 11 Savannes Bay – Micoud 9,880M
Day 10 – Wednesday July 12 OFF DAY
Day 11 – Thursday July 13 Micoud – Dennery 10,965M
Day 12 – Friday July 14 Dennery – Dauphin 15,315M
Day 13 – Saturday July 15 Dauphin – Cas En Bas 8,528M
Day 14 – Sunday July 16 Cas En Bas – Rodney Bay 12,935M
For the first half of the event, the weather and conditions were perfect. Day- after-day they were able to take to the water completing each stage as scheduled. The sun high in the sky on the morning of Monday July 3rd, the first stage was completed in a 3 hour time – much faster than expected!
It was amazing to watch the swimmers daily as they steadily traversed the waters around our beautiful Helen of the West! The local community came out to support their arrivals and departures from to village to village. Onlookers stood on shoreline and cliffs, waving as they passed by. Boaters and fisherman, kept at a safe distance by our Marine Police escorts, witnessed in awe, cheering Jacques and crew along the water.
Unfortunately, due to offshore weather causing high sea swells and choppy waves accompanied by rain, there were a few stages not able to be completed. The team was dismayed to disappoint the crowds that aligned the Dennery shoreline for these stages. With safety for all parties as the utmost importance, it was in best decision to cancel these legs.
Thankfully, the weather chose to cooperate for our Last Lap on Sunday June 16th. The team swam around Pigeon Island to Barrel o’Beef into Reduit beach. They were accompanied by several swimmers from Schoelcher Natation 2000 (Martinique) founded and coached by Jacques Sicot as well several St Lucian swimmers. Charles Devaux and Omar Alexander swam the last 1.5K with the group; Ziv Reynolds, D’Andre Blanchard, Shaquil Flavius, Kenai d’Auvergne, and Simran Gopee – all 11-12 local competitive swimmers – joined in for the last 500 Meters.
This stage was completed with media and supporters cheering them on as the returned to shore in from of St Lucia Yacht Club, Reduit beach.
As dubbed by Jacques, the “Fiesta Finale” was hosted at St Lucia Yacht Club. Additional support and contributions were generously provided by Marine Industries Association of St Lucia, Bay Gardens Beach Resort, Louis-Fernand family and various other interested persons.
Special presentations were made to Jacques Sicot, Luria Gilbert, Cathy Seichepine, and Clery Boror by Isabel Alexander-Marquis from the Department of Youth and Sports. Special thanks to Solange for coming out to be our Mistress of Ceremonies!
The Caraib Swim group as well as local organizers would like to say a special thanks to the following parties: Marine Police Unit for the daily accompaniment and security on the water; the Dept of Youth & Sports for the coordination efforts; the local media for coming out to promote and support; local community members for unwavering support; the lifesaving association for assistance. We look forward to growing open water swimming with future joint endeavors.