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How about some good news for a change? USNA


January 08, 2012

More than 120 swim Tampa Bay to support Navy SEALs

A group of simmers escorted by kayakers heads out into the waters of Tampa Bay as part of the annual The third annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim. The 5k open water swim from the Pinellas side of the Gandy Bridge to Picnic Island in Tampa benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, which supports families of Navy SEALs. Last year, $64,000 was netted by the swim.
As the last swimmer approached the beach at Picnic Island late Sunday morning, a swelling of applause and cheers greeted him. Jim Cunningham, triathlon athlete who had just made the 3.1-mile swim from Gandy beach, heard the cheers. He rose in thigh-deep water and ran the rest of the way to dry land.

More than 120 swimmers sliced through Tampa Bay on Sunday morning, braving cool water temperatures, shipping traffic and whatever creatures lurk beneath the dark waves.

Cunningham said he and a team of fellow St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue dive team members got together for the swim. The bay was calm, almost like glass, he said, but the cold was the biggest problem.

The whole time, he concentrated on his technique, he said. There were some distractions.

"Some places, you can see the bottom," he said. "But then, you get into the shipping channels and you can't. You lose your point of reference. And sometimes the mind plays tricks."

The third annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, a 5K open water trudge is growing each year; from a handful of swimmers who took part in 2010 to about 60 swimmers last year.

"The sport of open water swimming is really taking off," said Kurt Ott, swim organizer. "It's really, really becoming big. Swimmers now are jumping out of the pool and into open water swimming."

He said this year, open water swimming will debut as an Olympic sport.

The swim from Gandy beach in St. Petersburg to Picnic Island in Tampa benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, which supports families of Navy SEALs. Last year, $64,000 was netted by the swim.

The Frogman Swim started as an impromptu event to raise money for Lt. Dan Cnossen, a SEAL who lost both his legs in Afghanistan to an IED explosion in 2009.

That first swim attracted 38 swimmers who braved frigid waters of Tampa Bay to raise $33,000 for Cnossen and his family.

The cold snap last week warmed for the swim and the water temperature was in the low 60s.

"The water temperature actually is the warmest of the last three years," he said.

Swimmers from across the nation participated, he said, including former Olympic champion Brooke Bennett from Plant City, who swam with the first wave. She emerged from the chilly water shivering as spectators tossed towels and blankets on her to warm her up.

Registration was cut off in November to 100 swimmers, but it has grown to about 125, Ott said. Most of the added 25 are military service members out to help their siblings in arms and their families. The goal was to raise $75,000, and all indications are that that amount will be surpassed.

Sixty-five-year old Mike Craig took the plunge. He began training four months ago, the lifelong Tampa man said, and finished the swim in an hour and a half, right on schedule.

"I'll do it next year," he said. "I hope to improve my time." He said he raised more than $2,000 from sponsors.

"I asked people I know, I asked friends," he said. "I didn't have a single person say no."

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Will Russell, 40, nodded at the calm water and said, "It was an easy swim today.

"The water was great. The currents were great. It was just a great swim."

11,356 Posts
It's nice to read some good news for a change, thank you TampaSsgt. If they didn't do it in January and did some advertising I think they could get more participation.
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