As amateur swimming clubs gathered for the fifth Landon Von Kanel Invitational 7-9 June at the Lions Pool, Pastor Randy Von Kanel – the father of Cayman’s first CARIFTA swimming medalist – says his late son’s memory is a testament to the skills he gained through a sport he loved.
“Landon was a young man whose hard work translated in the pool,” said Pastor Von Kanel. “His appreciation for competition, and the friendships he made through swimming, along with the discipline and focus that training introduced to him are real life, shining examples of the benefits of swimming.
In 1996, Von Kanel topped the podium for the first time in the country’s history winning gold in both the Boys 11-12 200-and 400-metre freestyle events. In 2001, Von Kanel was tragically killed in a car crash at 18 years of age. Pastor Von Kanel says the yearly meet bearing his son’s name is a touching tribute.
“It means so much to us that his first club – Stingray Swim Club – sees fit to honour his memory at this meet every year,” said Pastor Von Kanel.
The Cayman Islands later established the Landon Von Kanel Award which given only when a male swimmer in the Boys 11-12 age division wins gold in both the 200-and 400-metre freestyle events at the CARIFTA Championships. This year, Bahamian Marvin Johnson was honoured for just the eleventh time. Stingray’s Kathy Jackson says the meet provides an opportunity to educate swimmers on road safety as well.
“We reminder them as they get older to be careful when driving, wear your seat belts, and take your time,” said Jackson. “We have young swimmers today who don’t know the sad part of Landon’s story, but everything that swimming gives our swimmers is the best part of Landon. He’s a role model of what swimming does for our young people.”
As Stingray cruised to a victory this weekend, it’s up and comers reflected on the impact he had on swimming in the Cayman Islands.
“He and his family had a big role with Stingray,” said Stingray swimmer Kyra Rabess. “He means a lot to our club and was one of best people our club had.”