March 11, 2004 – Start stroking. The first annual Friends of V.I. National Park Beach-to-Beach Power Swim splashes off May 30.
The event begins at 8 a.m. at the northern end of Maho Bay Beach — usually referred to as "Big Maho." Participants must check in by 7:30 a.m.
The 1¼-mile course, for individuals, goes from Maho Bay Beach to Cinnamon Bay Beach. The 3½-mile course, for three-person relay teams, goes from Maho Bay Beach to Hawksnest Bay Beach, with teams changing swimmers at Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay beaches.
Both races appeal to both competitive and recreational swimmers. Participants are divided into two categories: solo and assisted. This means solo swimmers can't use any equipment other than goggles or a mask. Assisted swimmers may use snorkels, fins, exposure suits, or whatever else they need to get them around the course.
"We were looking for a unique event to put on," Friends development director Karen Brady said, noting that no organization on St. John sponsors a swim.
Friends President Joe Kessler said that although St. John is known for its annual 8 Tuff Miles Run, this event provides an advantage. "You won't sweat as much and your knees and feet won't hurt," he said.
"This event celebrates the beaches and the waters of V.I. National Park — two of the most special features of the park — and it builds upon St. John's growing reputation as a center of challenging sporting events," Kessler said. The Beach-to-Beach Power Swim takes place solely in National Park waters.
The money raised through the event will fund Friends activities.
Register online at the Friends Swim event Web site or at Connections in Cruz Bay, St. John or at Endurance Sports at Havensight, St. Thomas or Sunny Isle, St. Croix. Registration is $25 until noon on May 29, or $40 at a pre-swim meeting to be held at 5 p.m. at Maho Bay Camps. There will be no registration on the day of the swim.
Participants and their companions receive a 25-percent discount for stays at Maho Bay Camps. To reserve your tent, call the campground at 776-6226 or go online to the Maho Bay Web site.
If you'd like to volunteer as a timekeeper, recorder or to do any one of other myriad tasks, call the Friends at 779-4940 or send e-mail.
For more information on the event, call the Friends or click on the Web site link above in registration information.
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