“Swim along the bridge!” Michael P. Haymans, co-founder of the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim yelled out from the Gilchrist Bridge to patriotic swimmers in the Peace River. There was supposed to be a talk to swimmers somewhere around Noon before the start of the swim. As Michael explained, his uncle blew the bullhorn to get everyone’s attention to listen to instructions but a few thought it was the start of the swim and so they were off.
There are no registrations, no entry fees and no rules, with the exception of common sense. The Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is an event full of patriotic fun and a little bit of silliness mixed with hometown pride. It’s an occasion to be, well, free in every sense of the term.
Hundreds of participants came armed with neon foam noodles, animal-shaped inflatable rafts and red, white and blue spirit. Several towed coolers behind while I saw others holding a canned adult beverage in one hand with the other hanging on to a noodle. The array of colors popping atop the tea-colored water (tannic acid from mangrove trees) is such a beautiful sight.
They swam, floated, paddled and bobbled more than 1.5 miles to Harpoon Harry’s at Fishermen’s Village where non-swimmers cheered each time a swimmer climbed up a wood ladder. There was also a young man doing back flips from the Harpoon Harry’s dock – see the photos below. I do not recommend you try this.
For additional photos from the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim view my Flickr stream.
I love that we have these event. The Ticket Sarasota has a great article called Top 10 Reasons You Should Salute Freedom Swim Across River. Check it out!
I had a great day celebrating Independence Day and hope you did, too!