Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad & Tobago has organized a national open water swimming championship for over 50 years.
Trinidad & Tobago is in the southern Caribbean northeast of Venezuela. Its annual national championships are held in Maracas Beach, a stunningly beautiful stretch of water on Trinidad. Formerly a 5-mile race, the national championship is now a 5K race to confirm with international open water swimming standards.
Other annual open water swims include the Hyundai Open Water Classic, also held on Maracas Beach, and the International Open Water Swim held at gorgeous Grange Bay on Tobago that offers swims, a 0.75K race, a 1.5K race and a 5K race.
One of the former national champions, Gerry
Rodgrigues (shown above winning at the La Jolla Rough Water Swim) took his open water talents to California where he wons a multitude of coastal ocean races in the 1980's and 1990's. "I remember we used to have some of our swim practices in the ocean. We grew up in the ocean, so [open water swimming] comes naturally to us. The national championship event draws swimmers from all over the Caribbean and South America and as far away as the U.S. As I learned more and more about open water swimming, I knew that in order to win the most competitive races, you have to swim tactically."
"If there is one rule that competitive open water swimmers must follow, it is the 'one-body rule'. That is, you have to stay within one body of the leaders at all times, if you want to win. Of course, it is important to draft and conserve energy during races, but sometimes, it is necessary to lead the race, especially if you think the pace is going too fast for you. It sounds counterintuitive, but you can manage (slow down) the pace when you are in the lead. Your competitors will follow you. If the pace is too fast and you are not in the lead, then you are at the mercy of your competitors. Taking the lead puts you back in control."