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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fiji Swims Cancelled In Aftermath Of Cyclone

David Handley, the Founding Director of Bathtub Productions and the Fiji Swims, faced a terrible situation as the race director for the Fiji Swims which had to be cancelled.

"I feel particularly disappointed for Jim Montgomery and Neil Rogers. Neil swam for Australia in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics making the 100m butterfly final as the captain of the Australian team in 1976 [where Jim won the gold medal in the 100m freestyle].

Since then Jim and Neil have been friends and for a couple of years have been aiming to get to Fiji together. This was actually what kept me pushing to organise this years swim

But a cyclone in Fiji last December knocked out all three of Handley's resort partners for many months. During this time, the resorts were struggling to get back online and reopening their resorts. "They naturally had bigger things to organise than making arrangments with us. Treasure Island won't reopen until this December, but they allowed us to start the 1 km race from their island anyway. Treasures were to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a resort this year but they have been closed the whole time. As a 7-year-old, I remember Treasure opening having gone to Beachcomber with my family since before I can remember."

As a result, this year's Fiji Swims were cancelled. The isolated islands used for the Fiji Swims are its calling card, but the islands were devastated in last year's cyclone which they have yet to recover. Because Beachcomber Island will not re-open until well after the Fiji Swims, no one can stay on the island.

Additionally, the local staff has been laid off who have served as the bulk of the Fiji Swims diligent water safety crew working under the volunteers from the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club who come to Fiji to manage the event. "Our inability to provide adequate water safety means we have no option but to cancel the race. This is quite a let-down in what was to be our 10th anniversary celebration swims, but it was the only sensible thing to do in the circumstances. We will refund all registration fees."

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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