Despite complete chaos, a criminal investigation and other hiccups, the aquatics events of the World OutGames went on as planned Saturday, one day after the board of the organization announced that the majority of sporting events would be cancelled due to financial troubles.
“So basically we had to scramble to find volunteers after OutGames collapsed,” said Kirk Arthur, the former captain of the Miami Nadadores, the local LGBT swimming club. The aquatic events were hosted and organized by the Nadadores in conjunction with the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics.
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More than 600 swimmers will compete in the Aquatics events.
One of those swimmers is Alvaro A. Gutierrez, Jr. He didn’t allow the drama and chaos of the OutGames to affect his experience.
“Honestly, since it was my first meet I had no idea what to expect, so I was more concerned with asking other swimmers how it all worked,” he said. “It was amazing to see swimmers from all over the world coming to have a good time, while enjoying the adrenaline aspect of the sport. It's great to bond with other swimmers from the world.”
Swimming is fairly new to Gutierrez. Locally, he swims with the Hammerheads in Fort Lauderdale.
“I got my first official time on my backstroke,” he said with pride.
Arthur, who’s also competing, said the reason there was no disruption with the aquatics events is because the Nadadores made sure to have the OutGames pay the costs, including the venue, up front.
“They asked us to front the money, but it would have bankrupted the team,” Arthur said. “So that's why I said no when I was captain.”
The first two days went “fantastic,” he said.
Arthur and other team members were disappointed though that the drama has received most of the attention so far while the sports have been ignored.
“Sadly, no medals or ribbons,” Arthur said. “Which is kind of a big deal when you traveled far and spent so much.”
But the President of Pride Fort Lauderdale and Planet Printer, Miik Martorell, announced Saturday night that his company would donate medals and awards to the athletes.
“We, as a community, need to pull together and demonstrate to our guests what it is that makes South Florida and our LGBTQ community special,” Martorell said. “There will be plenty of time to figure out what went wrong with OutGames but, right now, we must focus on the thousands of athletes who came here to compete."
The City of Miami Beach stepped in Saturday to reschedule most of the other cancelled sporting events, and all day Saturday other local organizations were making plans to fill in the gaps and plug as many holes as possible to ensure the games would go on.
Visit MiamiGayAquatics.org for more information about the aquatics events. Click here for the full listing of aquatics events.