After missing last year’s annual race due to COVID-19 restrictions, The College of the Florida Keys’ Swim Around Key West returns Saturday, June 12, at 9 a.m.
The 12.5-mile journey that circles the island will begin at Smathers Beach, head toward the Southernmost Point to the Key West Harbor, continue through the harbor, and exit under Fleming Key Bridge, through the City of Key West mooring field around Sigsbee, and swim to Cow Key Bridge. Past Cow Key Bridge they will make their way around toward Key West International Airport, to the Smathers Beach finish line.
“The Swim Around Key West is swum in two different bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean,” race officials said via their website. “You can see lots of aquatic life and maybe a mermaid or two. This is a warm-water swim with temperatures from 78 degrees to 84 degrees. All safety crew boats will be flying event flags and lifeguards are positioned throughout the course.”
Swimmers can compete in either a solo category or team categories of two people up to six-person relays — the solo category of fins, monofin or mermaid tails are also included as well as the use of fins for relay teams. Every swimmer or team must have their own escort craft in the form of kayaks or motorboats.
Following the start of the around-the-island race, an 800-yard, 1-mile, and 2-mile open water swims will take place from Smathers and head toward the permanently secured poles marking the swim area. A support crew is not needed for those events, as there are buoys to mark the poles and lifeguards for safety in kayaks and boats, but for the 10K, or 6.1-mile swim, which will also begin following the 12.5-mile race, supports teams are required as this course begins at Smathers Beach and stretches as far as the airport.
There will be an awards ceremony for the open water swims immediately following the 10K race, while a 5 p.m. ceremony is planned for the 12.5-milers. The fun does not end there as on Sunday, June 13, there is a USA-sanctioned swim meet at the CFK Aquatic Center, which will involve a variety of races for all types of swimmers, while on Friday, June 11, entrants will have a chance to swim with mermaids or be transformed themselves as they pick up their race packets.