Freedom Swim. Port Charlotte to Punta Gorda.

Well the Freedom Swim is over for this year and I am still wondering just exactly what I was thinking. 2 years in a row my family and I have swam the 1.5 to 2 mile (depending on how far off course the current blows you)  stretch across the Charlotte Harbor. What is the Freedom Swim?

Bonnie Gross Of the Florida explains it better than I can:

“Twenty one years ago, it began when Michael Haymans, a Punta Gorda attorney, and friends decided to celebrate the Fourth of July by swimming the 1.5 mile distance across the Peace River. They weren’t athletes in training; they had heard stories about how in the 1940s, swimming across the river was a rite of passage for teens.


They don’t race. They don’t even necessarily swim. Some people are on stand up paddle boards. Others float on plastic noodles or inflatable rafts and kick across. Kayaks join the procession with dogs on board. And, yes, some do swim; some make it across the river in 30 minutes.

Punta Gordas spokeserson has described it as a “bobblefest.”  There are no registration fees, no prizes and no rules except using common sense and courtesy. (Swim with a buddy!)  Many swimmers go for red, white and blue attire. For a few years, some swimmers took “freedom” to another level: They swam au naturaland ran their swim suits up the mast of their sailboat.”

This year was a little more exciting as a thunderstorm came bellowing across the harbor about a mile into the swim and many people took to climbing on the boats for a much needed bottle of water and a break. Funny how about  half a mile into the swim when lightning is flashing it does not seem nearly as fun as the idea seemed the day before. The people on the kayaks and floats are still carrying on and having a good time but those of us who actually came to swim have put our nose to the proverbial grindstone and and are chipping away at the vast expanse of water in front of us. My preferred stroke is somewhat of a cross between the doggy paddle and a drowning victim. That is, until I get within site of Harpoon Harry’s and I know the crowd can see. I then amazingly turn into a somewhat of a graceful bearded mermaid or a Michael Phelps of the harbor as I effortlessly  swim the last 75 yds  with same zeal and determination that I swam the 1st 50 feet.

When all is said and done and we have climbed out of the water and on to the dock where  a live band and a cheering crowd awaits a feeling of accomplishment comes over us. The Freedom Swim is one of my favorite events that happens on the harbor. This is the only place I have seen this big of an unorganized group of people get into a body of water with no guidance, stipulations or any type of  judging, the only rule being to try very hard not to drown!!  I tell myself I  will never do it again or at least not until next year.

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