The conditions were more favorable this year than last. At least the swimmers who were able to traverse the Chesapeake Bay were not thwarted by thunder storms. With 650 swimmers registered and 75 degree water temperatures the two heats were lined up at 11:00am at Sandy Point State Park to head over to Kent Island and the small beach next to Hemmingways.
The first heat, of slower swimmers, hit the water at 11:00am and the second with more advanced swimmers followed fifteen minutes behind. Once off the beach, the swimmers needed to get between the two spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. If they ventured outside of the spans (or did not make a pre-determined time check) they were disqualified and pulled from the water. This year, 9 of the starters did not finish the race and no injuries were reported.
This is a charity swim and the proceeds are donated to charity. Since it’s inception 21 years ago, they have raised more than $1.5 million dollars. This year’s recipients were the Maryland Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. To view all of our photos, please visit our online gallery!
The first to exit the Bay was Andew Gyenis from Reston, VA. The 17-year old won the race in 1:28. Gyenis also won the race in 2010. The first female finisher was also a 17-year old from Millersville, MD. Megan Viohl. Her time was 1:34.
However, the most notable swimmer had to be Craig Dietz. Dietz, a 38-year old attorney from Pittsburgh, was both without limbs. He was outfitted with a single flipper and swam the distance on his back–his face slathered with zinc oxide to protect himself from the sun. Dietz was allowed a 15 minute head start to get between the spans. The start is a “cuisinart” start where all swimmers just race into the water. Dietz was accompanied by a kayak for his safety and only suffered one hit to the face by a passing swimmer. About 3 hours and fifteen minutes after he started, Dietz crossed the timing mat and made his way up from the beach to the cheers of hundreds.
Jill Vukmanic, of Houston also heard the cheers of hundreds as well. Jill and her boyfriend, Mike Robinson, made the swim together. But Mike got to the beach first and was waiting to congratulate Jill on her finish with a hug and an engagement ring! She said yes!