Frogman Swim sets records
More than 125 open-water swimmers, an equal number of kayakers and a dozen stand-up paddleboarders turned out Sunday for the third annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, which resulted in records set on the course and in money raised for the families of wounded Navy SEALs.
Tampa's Vincent Donnelly, a 20-year-old who swims for Purdue, covered the 3.1-mile course from Gandy Beach to Picnic Island in 55 minutes, 54 seconds, bettering Ron Collins' inaugural mark of 55 minutes. Caleb Hudak, a 15-year-old from Seminole, was second in 56:16, followed by Becca Mann, 14, of Clearwater Beach in 56:17.
Brooke Bennett, a three-time Olympic gold medalist from Plant City, finished in 1:01:08. Bennett, a correspondent for Bright House Sports Network, hopes to complete the triple crown of open-water swimming by crossing the English Channel, completing the Swim around Manhattan and California's Catalina Crossing.
Unlike the two previous years, conditions were perfect for this year's wetsuit-legal swim. The water temperature was in the low 60s and the course was relatively flat. The field included high school pool swimmers to active-duty military personnel fresh off the plane from Afghanistan.
More than $100,000 was raised in individual pledges for the nonprofit Navy SEAL Foundation. Hugh Culverhouse Jr., son of the late Buccaneers owner, saw the event on television and pledged $25,000 on the condition that other local businesses join forces to match his contribution.
To learn more about the swim or how you can help the foundation, go to tampa bayfrogman.com.
Free boating safety checks
Thinking about boating to the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Jan. 28? Law enforcement will be on the water doing routine vessel inspections so make sure your safety gear is in order. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 79 will offer no-cost, nonpunitive, 15-minute checks at the Gandy Boat Ramp, 5108 W. Gandy Blvd., Tampa, on Saturday (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Sunday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.); Jan. 21 (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.); Jan. 22 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Jan. 27 (9 a.m. to noon).
Have your state-issued documents and federally mandated safety equipment, which include registration numbers on the hull; vessel registration and hull registration decal; personal flotation devices; flares; fire extinguisher; horn, whistle or bell. To learn more, visit safetyseal.net.
Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors-Fitness Editor