A former Trail Stingray swimmer won a very surprising silver medal at an international open-water race in the Caribbean last month.
Trail’s Martin Gonzalez, 16, his brother Erik, and father Alberto hopped a plane in Castlegar for a last-minute vacation to St. Kitts in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean over spring break.
While vacationing, Martin entered the four-kilometre Nevis to St. Kitts Cross-Channel Swim, with approximately 200 competitors from neighbouring islands, Mexico, the U.S.A., and Canada competing.
“It was my first open-water race in my life,” said Gonzalez. “So it was pretty exciting.”
The J. L. Crowe student wasn’t exactly prepared for the competition. He hadn’t trained in almost two weeks, nor did he have a racing suit. Yet, longtime race organizer Winston Crooke outfitted the Grade 10 student and Gonzalez signed up for the race, which started early on Mar. 29 on the tiny island of Nevis at Oualie Beach with the finish line at Cockleshell Bay on the island of St. Kitts.
After a mass start, Gonzalez fixed his eyes on a far point four-kilometres away and headed straight for it.
“It was really wavy, and I did swallow a lot of seawater, but I could see the bottom the whole way, and I saw lots of sea life, and two turtles and a stingray.”
Gonzalez finished the race in a scorching 60-minutes and 30 seconds just over a minute behind the first-place finisher Christian Marsden, a member of the Trinidad-Tobago national swim team, who came in at 59:20.
“I was very surprised . . . It was a good race, and I was very happy to get second,” said Gonzalez. “I mean I didn’t even think I was going to place.”
Gonzalez’s success in the Nevis-St.Kitts swim will likely mean bigger and longer swims in the future.
“I want to expand my horizons into open water now, because it’s a lot of fun. I like long -distance events, so even though it was my first time it definitely won’t be my last.”