Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Expect The Unexpected In The Chesapeake Bay

Open water swimmers understand the general rule of open water swimming: expect the unexpected.

At the 18th annual Great Chesapeake Bay Swim this past weekend, 16% of the swimmers were pulled out of the bay due to an ebb tide.*

647 entered the water and 103 swimmers were pulled as they faced a strong oncoming current and winds during the last portion of the 4.4-mile swim.

"[The] swim was very difficult. During the last half of the race, the wind shifted into us. Times were off by 20-45 minutes from prior years, depending on where you were when it hit," said Dr. Jim Miller who has done the swim 13 times.

The swim was won by two-time winner Brian Benda who finished in 1:34:34. 20-year-old Erin Luley, a Penn State senior, who the women's race in 1:44:18.

There was also a 1-mile race held earlier in the day that was won by Chase Kalisz for the men in 23:08 and Caroline Hamilton for the women in 25:00.

Over the years, the swim has raised US$1.4 million. This year another US$150,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the March of Dimes Foundation.

* Ebb tide is the receding or outgoing (seaward) flow of water when the water level is lowered. The reverse flow is called the flood tide where there is an inflow of water that results in rising water levels.

Photo of start of the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim by Algerina Perna for the Baltimore Sun.

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