JUMP IN: SWIM ACROSS AMERICA
If you are out on Clearwater Beach on Saturday, join three-time Olympic champion Brooke Bennett for Swim Across America at Pier 60. The event has raised more than $600,000 in the past four years for cancer research. Swimmers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to participate as fundraisers in the half-mile, 1-mile or the "Iron Man Distance" 2.4-mile course. They can swim as individuals or as part of a team in honor of friends and loved ones who have fought, or are fighting cancer. Participants 18 and older are asked to raise a minimum of $500, and those younger than 18 pledge to raise $200. Swimmers participating in the "Iron Man Distance" 2.4-mile course are asked to raise $1,000. To register for the swim, visit swimacrossamerica.org.
Open-water swimming is one of America's fastest growing sports. You don't need any specialized equipment — just water! But play it safe and swim near a lifeguard. Clearwater Beach and Fort De Soto Park both have professional staffs and well-patrolled waterfronts ideal for those new to the sport. Most local beaches have a clearly marked Safe Bathing Limit, or SBL. Stay inside the buoys. Lifeguards do a good job of keeping personal watercraft away from swimmers. But on beaches not patrolled by lifeguards, swimmers should exercise caution. A brightly colored swim cap will make you more visible to boaters and rescue personnel. If possible, swim with a partner. There is safety in numbers. Never swim alone.
SHOWBOATING: TAMPA BAY BOAT SHOW
Florida is the No. 1 boating state in the nation. With thousands of miles of coastline, hundreds of lakes and year-round good weather, there is ample reason. If you're thinking about getting in on the action, head over to the Florida State Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday for the Tampa Bay Boat Show, presented by the Tampa Bay Times. Check out the latest assortment of pontoons, cruisers, center consoles, inflatables, personal watercraft or catch a fishing seminar with one of the Times' Captain's Corner columnists. Local lenders will offer special rates during the show, just in case you find the perfect vessel. Learn about beginner fishing, inshore fishing, dock fishing, kayak fishing, fly fishing, spear fishing, shallow-water fishing and more. Plus learn how to use proper tackle and find out where to scuba and snorkel on the Gulf Coast from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Free, $6 parking. (727) 893-8523. tampabay.com/expos/boat-show.
CREATURE FEATURE: HOGFISH
The species Lachnolaimus maximus, sometimes erroneously called hognose or hog snapper, is one of the finest tasting fish in the Gulf of Mexico. With an elongated snout resembling that of a pig, the hogfish is also one of the most peculiar sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico. A member of the wrasse family, a big hogfish can reach 3 feet in length. They have strong jaws and root around to feed primarily on clams, crabs and snails. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about hogfish is that the males form harems. A single male typically patrols a group of two to 15 females. He will check on his females repeatedly and engage in courtship behavior (involving a quiver dance) throughout the day, but spawning typically occurs near dusk. Peak spawning season runs from December through May. Hogfish begin life as females and switch to male if they become big enough and their social cues (i.e., lack of a male) warrant the transition. But once a male, always a male. They cannot switch back and return to being female. The transition process can take weeks, even months.
GREAT GIFT: YETI GROWLER
This company's world-class coolers can keep a six-pack of root beer cold for days, but what about those outdoor lovers who like their sarsaparilla straight from the tap? Yeti's new 64-ounce Rambler is the perfect Father's Day gift for any brew lover. Made from 18/8 stainless steel, this growler can really take a beating. The double-walled insulation with a patented design means it won't sweat in your backpack. Fill it with 3 Daughters Rodbender Red and toss it in your tackle box for your next fishing tournament. $89.99. yeticoolers.com.