Tampa Bay’s First Annual Frogman Seal Swim
On January 3, 2010, 37 swimmers, yours truly included, stepped up and stepped out on the coldest day of the year to swim from St. Petersburg to Tampa in the chilling cold waters of Tampa Bay. I got the call the day before the swim when my buddy Lt.Col. Jerry Lavely shared the details of the event with me. What started out as a quiet challenge between a few military brothers turned into a word of mouth, invitation-only “Fight Club” style event. I had always wanted to swim 3.2 miles across Tampa Bay and frankly because I have such respect for our military, I was honored to be asked to participate. I frankly wished it was happening on a warmer day, but I wasn’t going to let a little cold water keep me from swimming with the toughest guys that walk the face of this planet.
While my new Zoot wetsuit (an unexpected and fantastically appropriate Christmas gift from my support crew and girl!) kept me toasty warm, my face was frigid cold for at least the first half hour of the swim. After the first half hour, I settled into a nice steady rhythym and got a real good feel for the water. The current and water were just fine, but I knew the real work would begin in the second half…..and I was right. A nasty current and south blowing wind blew many of the swimmers off course, but my navigator kept me pushing into the current and wind and, while the work was hard, we kept a good solid course. Most importantly, the massive bull sharks that are known to own this particular part of Tampa Bay granted us safe passage. We made landfall in a total time of 1 hour and 17 minutes, not too bad given the relatively difficult conditions.
The whole point of the swim was to raise money for Lt. Dan Cnossen a Navy Seal that was injured on his first day of deployment in Afganistan. Please take a moment to visit his website here then make a small donation. It sucks that veterans that have served so honorably need the support of others, but the reality is our military and government do a piss poor job of looking after these guys when they come home.
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Remember, if you were at all inspired by this story, visit Dan Cnossen’s website to make a direct donation.
Special thanks to Jerry Lavely, Scott Neal and the Post 911 Foundation for their support of my swim and the event.