At 8:00am, 650 swimmers plunged into the warm waters off of Sandy Point State Park on their way to Kent Island. The Annual 4.4 mile swim–The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim was underway. The first “wave” of swimmers were the slower and less experienced ones and the second “wave” followed 15 minutes later. In the end 570 would complete the race in times ranging from 1 hour and 33 minutes to 3 hours and 50 minutes.
In the end, Andrew McKissick of Ellicott City led the pack and finished in 1:33.42. The first female finisher was Meghan Viohl, 18, of Millersville (who just graduated from The Key School on Friday) with a time of 1:38.36. The youngest competitor was 12-year old Daniel Gyenis of Oak Hill, Virginia who finished overall in 92nd place with time of 1:59.53.
The swimmers leave the beach and once they clear the jetty, head between the spans of the twin bridges. A flotilla of kayaks and powerboats insure their safety and well being. The US Coast Guard closes the shipping channels and prohibits any water traffic from passing under the bridge during the swim. Today’s water temperature was 76.4 degrees–considerably warmer than the average 67 degrees. To manage the in-water activities, the Coast Guard deploys 25 vessels, the Chesapeake Power Boaters Association brings 55 boats, and the Chesapeake Paddlers bring 50 kayaks. There are two boats within the spans during the race providing food and drink to the swimmers.
The swimmers must meet certain milestones to remain in the race. If they do not hit the mile markers in time, they are pulled from the water. A swimmer in trouble only needs to raise their hand and a kayaker will come to them and offer them a hand hold and move them outside of the span to be picked up by another boat. If needed, they can be moved to a larger medical boat as well.
To view all of our photos and video from the race, please visit our online gallery and feel free to download any that you like.