Happy Independence Day 2012!

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21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Florida, July 4, 2012

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Florida, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day! Hope you’re enjoying the spirit of America today. To celebrate the holiday I headed down to Southwest Florida’s Charlotte Harbor to wish participants of the 21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River well.

Freedom Swim Co-Founder Michael P. Haymans Shouts Out Instructions Prior to the Swim, July 4, 2012

Freedom Swim Co-Founder Michael P. Haymans Shouts Out Instructions Prior to the Swim, July 4, 2012

The swim started 21 years ago when a few friends decided to celebrate Independence Day by swimming across the Peace River. Today, hundreds of people participate in what’s been described as a gloriously unorganized blobblefest either with foam noodles; neon inflatable rafts; red, white and blue attire or just swim trunks. Others choose to do it by some kind of boat.

Some participants were the four-legged furry kind, either swimming or sitting atop a paddleboard. Without a doubt, the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is one of the most fun events in Punta Gorda.

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Florida, July 4, 2012

Red, White & Blue for the 21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Florida, July 4, 2012

The swim beings in Charlotte Harbor under the Gilchrist Southbound Bridge (U.S. 41) and ends at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, just over 1.5 miles away. I’ve participated in the Freedom Swim before, both as a swimmer (2008) and kayaker (2011) but this year I was just an observer.

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, July 4, 2012

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, July 4, 2012

Freedom Swim co-founder Michael P. Haymans kicked off the swim by yelling out safety instructions prior to the 2 p.m. start. It sounded as though it’d be a tough swim but participants looked up for the challenge.

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River Had Four-Legged Participants, Too; Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, July 4, 2012

21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River Had Four-Legged Participants, Too; Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, July 4, 2012

New this year was a Coast Guard sign up form in which about 200 people signed. I guess this is to account for everyone and not leave anyone out there.

By the way, Michael’s one of the kindest and neatest people you’ll meet.

How did you celebrate Independence Day?

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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