KEY WEST, Fla. — Solo swimmers, relay teams and even “mermaids” can test their strength and stamina Saturday, June 12, during a 12.5-mile open-water swimming race around the island of Key West.
Entrants in the annual College of the Florida Keys’ Swim Around Key West can register as solo competitors or in teams of two to six swimmers with or without fins. The race also includes categories for swimmers with monofins or mermaid tails.
Participants are to vie for awards in age categories ranging from 12 and under to 70 and over.
Sanctioned by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the 2021 swim is to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Smathers Beach, located at 2601 S. Roosevelt Blvd. on the Atlantic Ocean.
All solo swimmers and teams must check in Friday, June 11, at the College of the Florida Keys pool on campus at 5901 College Road. As well as picking up their race packets, entrants can enjoy activities including “transforming themselves” into mermaids or mermen.
The 12.5-mile clockwise route around Key West encompasses the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, with the finish line at Smathers Beach. The course takes participants past Key West landmarks including Mallory Square, the Southernmost Point marker and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Each swimmer must provide a support crew and kayak or boat to accompany them around the island. Lifeguards and kayaks will be positioned throughout the course for safety.
Swimmers who prefer a shorter challenge can participate in 800-yard, 1-mile, 2-mile and 6.2-mile (10k) competitions in the Atlantic waters off Smathers Beach. Following courses marked with poles, the shorter races are to have sequential in-water starts beginning at approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
According to event organizers, competitors might glimpse mermaids and mermen swimming the shorter routes as well as the 12.5-mile challenge.
Swimmers must register by June 5. The entry fee for the 12.5-mile race is $120 per solo swimmer and $200 to $560 per relay team depending on the number of team members. Entry fee for the 6.2-mile race is $75 per person, and each shorter race is $30 per person. Discounts on solo swimmers’ fees are available for United States Masters Swimming and USA Swimming members.
Event information and registration: swimaroundkeywest.org or 305-809-3562
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY