The Florida Keys have always been known for their beautiful crystal-clear waters and relaxing island lifestyle, but they’re also a growing name on the open water swimming scene as well.
The Swim for Alligator Lighthouse in gorgeous Islamorada, Florida is back in action this year and boasts an amazing tropical swim around a notable area landmark. This year’s event takes place Saturday September 15th.
The swim will again be host to this season’s GSS North American Championships, the race was hosting the event last year as well but due to Hurricane Irma the whole race was cancelled. The area has fortunately been able to bounce back since last year and the swim is back in action and ready to welcome hundreds of eager swimmers looking to complete this challenging adventure.
Don’t worry, despite the name, there are no alligators at this lighthouse. In fact, the lighthouse itself is named after a US Navy Schooner named the Alligator which ran aground there in 1822. The reef has claimed many boats over the years, hence the need for the lighthouse.
The idea for the swim came from world renowned artist, Lighthouse Larry decided to swim from Islamorada to the Lighthouse and back, alone and self-supported. Upon his return Larry has claimed that “every open water swimmer should experience this,” and shortly after the swim race was born.
The route is still very similar with swimmers traveling 4 miles out to the lighthouse and 4 miles back for an 8-mile (12.9km) journey. The swim takes swimmers through warm blue waters and by amazing coral reefs.
Currently there are over 300 swimmers signed up with a projection of 350-375 swimmers by race day. This is only the 5th annual event, showing extremely strong growth for this already well-known destination swim. There are both solo and a variety of relay options available as well. Other than Lighthouse Larry Herlth who is the main figurehead of the event, there is now a strong committee behind the event dedicated to making the event a successful, safe and memorable one for open water swimmers. The goal is to produce an open water event safely and bring the swimmers to the lower keys to experience Islamorada at it’s finest.
It is the Fighting Manatee Swim Club, the Masters swim club of Islamorada, who accepted the challenge to present a world class open water swim event in the Florida Keys. The Fighting Manatees presented the Inaugural Swim for Alligator Lighthouse back in 2013 and now it’s here to stay!
Proceeds from the swim benefit the Friends of the Pool in Islamorada, providing scholarships for high school students. They also support small investments towards the preservation of Alligator Light. The Swim brings awareness to treasured Historic Lighthouses on Florida’s Coastal Waterways. Friends of the Pool is an all volunteer 501c3 organization.
There are limited spots still available before the race on September 15th, this is an open water swimming challenge that will make a memorable and lasting experience for any seasoned open water swimmer!