Families get in the holiday spirit at a joint fundraiser Christmas party on Sunday at Indigo Beach House in Cane Garden Bay. Participants in the day’s aquathons helped support both PAW BVI and the BVI Swim School. (Photo: Dana Kampa)

While Christmas celebrations entail snowball fights or ski races in colder countries, a new tradition of aquatic racing is becoming a staple for some families in the Virgin Islands.

Among several holiday events that took place over the weekend, community members turned out on Sunday at Indigo Beach House in Cane Garden Bay for the Christmas Cracker Aquathon.

This is the second year that PAW BVI and the BVI Barracudas Swim Team have co-hosted this fundraiser, though this time they moved it to earlier in the season rather than holding it on Boxing Day.

PAW BVI Founder Natasha Ruscheinski thanked community members for their support throughout the year and said the organisation has plenty of 2024 events lined up, including its annual dog walk.

Ms. Ruscheinski was also one of the participants in the adult 800-metre race that kicked off the afternoon of activities.

Though the somewhat high surf added an extra challenge, all the participants rose to the occasion and made their lap around Cane Garden Bay without issue, she said.

“It looks a bit choppy, but it was actually perfect weather,” she added.

Coming in second place was 14-year-old Charlie Potgieter, a member of the BVI Barracudas Swim Team. The young swimmer, who received three medals at the team’s meet in St. Thomas last month, said he was particularly pleased to have beat one of his instructors in the day’s race.

The Christmas party was a family affair, with his mother Juliane Potgieter joining him in the 800-metre race and his younger brother Joe participating in the junior race.

Race course

Their course was shortened to account for the weather, but they still had to paddle past the waves to a nearby buoy, swim back to shore, then race along the beach to the finish line drawn in the sand, passing under a pool noodle arch lofted by a swim instructor who donned a Christmas sweater-style waterproof top for the occasion.

Ms. Potgieter said she wanted the whole family to join in the fun to support her son’s interest in competitive swimming, while enjoying some seasonal cheer.

“We try to do as much as we can all together, and we’re looking forward to a nice, relaxing Christmas time now,” she said while joining the crowd in cheering for the final children to cross the finish line.

The races were followed by beach games for the kids and a raffle.

Funds raised Rebecca Nockolds, head coach at the BVI Swim School, said money raised from the race entrance fees, the raffle and other fundraising efforts will go toward supporting both nonprofit organisations.

The swim team has its eyes set on garnering enough support to facilitate its participation in a meet at St. Croix next year.