A competitive swimmer since childhood

Given that she’s been a competitive swimmer since childhood, it’s no surprise Belin Villasante chose to be photographed in the water. “I feel most comfortable here,” she said. With decades of national and international competitions and accolades under her belt, Belin moved here from Guadalajara over three years ago to open a swimming school, certain she would have a favorable reception. Regretfully, the project tanked—no pun intended.
Undeterred, this mother of three (among them, an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater alum) was at a jet ski event in Marina Riviera Nayarit when a light bulb went on. “Maybe all I need is a larger body of water,” she thought. With plenty of experience in open-swim competitions and the backing of Nado Seguro, her own safe-swimming network, she and her swimming coach, Pedro Moran, designed and proposed an open-swim competition, to take place in Marina Riviera Nayarit. Both the municipality of Banderas Bay and the Riviera Nayarit Conventions & Visitors Bureau welcomed the project, the first Aguas Abiertas Riviera Nayarit competition taking place in 2011, surpassing its modest goal of 300 competitors.
By the time you read this article, the event, sanctioned by FINA (International Swimming Federation), will have been held for the third successful year, with approximately twice as many competitors, ages 7 to 70+, thus becoming a key player in Banderas Bay’s increasing appeal as a sports tourism destination.