Frogmen plan to kick it across Tampa Bay again

Swimmers and a kayaker cross the 58-degree water of Tampa Bay on Jan. 3 during a fundraiser for a Navy SEAL who lost his legs. The Frogman Swim from Gandy Beach to Picnic Island is expected to become an annual event.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Swimmers and a kayaker cross the 58-degree water of Tampa Bay on Jan. 3 during a fundraiser for a Navy SEAL who lost his legs. The Frogman Swim from Gandy Beach to Picnic Island is expected to become an annual event.

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The first Frogman Swim, a 3.1-mile open-water swim across Tampa Bay on Jan. 3, enticed 37 swimmers and 42 kayakers, who raised more than $30,000 for Lt. Dan Cnossen, a U.S. Navy SEAL who recently lost his legs in Afghanistan. Organizers plan to make the fundraiser an annual event. The 2011 swim is scheduled for Jan. 2, when the water temperature should once again be in the mid 50s. "We wanted to make it as hard as possible," said Cmdr. John Doolittle of St. Petersburg, who braved the frigid waters in his Speedo. This year's participants received a commemorative coin, above, from the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, the nonprofit organization that helps injured SEALs. Organizers will limit next year's field to 50 civilians and 50 active duty and former Special Forces personnel.



Outdoors poll

Last month: What's the best way to cure Nature Deficit Disorder in our youth?

Take away TV and computer time 46 percent

Force them outside and get them dirty 36 percent

Curb the parents' fear of the outdoors 18 percent

Total votes: 84

New question: Which is the toughest challenge?

• Swim across Tampa Bay

• Ride the Pinellas Trail end to end

• Paddle around Pinellas County

• Stand-up paddleboard from Fort De Soto to Anna Maria Island

• Sail a catamaran from Davis Island to Honeymoon Island

Vote at outdoors. tampabay.com.

Queen of the outdoors

Belleair native Devon Sibole, a 26-year-old graduate of Palm Harbor University, won the First Ascent Award given annually by the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition to an outstanding young woman who has made significant contributions to the outdoors.

Sibole, who worked as a Clearwater Beach lifeguard during the summer while home from the University of Pennsylvania, has trekked across Nepal and recently competed in the legendary TransRockies Run, a six-day 113-mile run in the Rockie Mountains reaching an elevation of 12,500 feet.

"This past month, I lived in a GoLite tent in national and state parks all over Northern California," the account executive for the San Francisco-based OutsidePR said. "It is impossible for me to come to work not grinning ear to ear."

Casting for a cause

The Johnny Kellar Inshore Fishing tournament run by the Old Salt Fishing Club had a 130-angler turnout as the event reached its 20th year, raising more than $75,000 for All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. The category winners were: seatrout — Matthew Brown, 5.18 pounds; flounder — Tommy Laronge, 1.70; grouper — Tommy Laronge, 8.74; sheepshead — Hank Manee, 7.5; and Master Angler — Jean Gifford.

Satellite to the rescue

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a fleet of satellites that played a vital role in the rescues of 195 people during life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2009.

In each incident, NOAA satellites pinpointed downed pilots, shipwrecked mariners or stranded hikers by detecting a distress signal from an emergency beacon, such as an EPIRB, and relaying the information to first responders on the ground.

NOAA's polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia's Cospas spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, called COSPAS-SARSAT. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft and boats, and from smaller, handheld personal locator beacons.

When a NOAA satellite finds the location of a distress signal within the United States or its surrounding waters, the information is relayed to the SARSAT Mission Control Center based at NOAA's Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. From there, it is sent to a Rescue Coordination Center, operated by either the U.S. Air Force, for land rescues, or the U.S. Coast Guard, for water rescues.

Now in its 28th year, COSPAS-SARSAT has been credited with supporting more than 27,000 rescues worldwide, including 6,232 in the United States and its surrounding waters.

Of the 195 saves last year, 154 people were rescued from the water, eight on land and 33 people were rescued as a result of their personal locator beacons.

Alaska had the most rescues in 2009, with 49, followed by Florida (39) and Texas (32).

The trend in rescues is going down, with 283 rescues in 2008 and 353 in 2007.

The end for Loran

The Coast Guard announced last month that it will decommission the Long Range Aids to Navigation program and terminate the Loran-C signal broadcast from Jupiter Inlet on Monday.

Technological advances over the past 20 years, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), have made Loran-C antiquated and unnecessary as a maritime navigational tool. The Loran-C system, maintained for the past 52 years by the Coast Guard, used multiple low-frequency radio transmitters to determine the location of the receiver.

Compiled by Rich Kenda, Times staff writer

Frogmen plan to kick it across Tampa Bay again 02/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 10:43pm]

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