If this swim was dated a day earlier, it may have been taken for a joke. On 2 April this year, John Batchelder took on the famous 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim and completed the entire distance using only butterfly. The 36-year old from Littleton, Colorado, took 14 hours and 41 minutes to finish the crossing, which meant he started and finished in darkness.
The Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, which crosses the entire length of Florida’s largest estuary, was first staged in 1998. It has drawn swimmers from around the globe and is one of the world’s longest marathon swims. The main race is held annually in April, in celebration of Earth Day, but is occasionally tackled by swimmers separately on different dates. This year’s race is on 22 April.
Starting at the same time as Batchelder, but finishing several hours ahead, were the Mighty Mermaids relay team. The six swimmers are all top-ranked masters swimmers in their late 50s and 60s. Following an initial one-hour rotation they completed the swim in 30-minute segments and finished in 10 hours and 21 minutes.
Conditions were favourable for most of the day. Swimmers and crew encountered 7kt headwinds and a slight chop early in the morning, but wind dropped at mid-day and held off until around 5pm. The afternoon sea breeze then caused choppy conditions for the last four hours of Batchelder’s swim. The water temperature was 22 degrees Celsius (72F).
Four solo swimmers and five relay teams have signed up for the 19th annual Tampa Bay Marathon Swim on 22 April.
Find out more: www.DistanceMatters.com