Tyler Norris Goode of the Citizen-Times reported a true open water swimming love story.
The romance between Anne Alston and Tom Sherry of the Asheville Masters Swimming Club culminated in the FKCC Swim Around Key West and was enabled by long-time race director Lori Bosco who wryly said, "Every year, the Swim Around Key West is a little different."
According to Tyler's story, Anne and Tom had been dating since last year and both felt confident they would soon be engaged. Only Tom, though, knew how the proposal would take place.
That's because at mile marker No. 7 (of the 12.5-mile race, he put a gold ring on the hand of Anne. "The relationship had gotten to the point where it was basically understood, you know, we're getting married. It was time to sort of make that official. So I started thinking about a way to do that that would be fun and unusual."
What he came up with was a balloon, a string and a ring. Each participant had a support kayaker, so Tom asked his kayaker to stop at the seventh mile marker and blow up the balloon that was tied to the ring with the string.
When the couple arrived and took a break from swimming to eat and drink, Tom took the balloon, handed it to her and told her to pull up the string to see what was tied to it. Once Anne got the ring, Tom asked her to marry him.
She said yes.
"It was enormously thoughtful and romantic and quirky as he is, that whole thing about his love for prime numbers — the reason he chose mile marker No. 7 to propose. So he's very pleased that it involved all the elements he loved: long distance swimming and me and mile 7, it being a prime number."
Of course, they still had 5.5 miles to go and a wedding to plan.
While they are planning a May wedding and even more swims together, Tom finished in 5:50.01 and Anne in 6:01:56 around Key West.
Photo of Anne and Tom by Steve Dixon.