ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys, July 14. SWIMMERS can test their endurance while focusing attention on preserving six aging offshore Keys lighthouses Saturday, Sept. 20, during the second annual 8-mile Swim for Alligator Light.
The Atlantic Ocean challenge was started by Florida Keys artist Larry Herlth, familiar to Keys locals as "Lighthouse Larry" for his detailed, scale-model metal reproductions of Keys lighthouses. When he was 52 years old, he completed the roundtrip open-water swim to Alligator Reef Lighthouse in five hours and 11 minutes, and afterward forged the idea of a competitive group swim to promote awareness.
"We need to bring the attention to a national treasure," Herlth said of the iconic lighthouses. "These structures need to be saved."
The large beacons were fabricated in the 1800s, including three built before the Civil War, to warn ships away from the Florida Keys reef tract. Modern Global Positioning System navigation has replaced the need for lighthouses in the Keys and, with the exception of their navigation lights, they no longer are maintained.
Swimmers can enter the 8-mile roundtrip event solo or as two- or four-person teams. Individuals must show prior proof of completing a 1,650-meter or 1-mile swim in 35 minutes or less to compete as a solo swimmer.
Entrants have up to seven hours to complete the course, which features an in-water start and a beach finish, ending shoreside at The Moorings resort at 123 Beach Road oceanside in Islamorada.
Awards are to be given to the top three male and female finishers overall.
Registration and check-in is set for 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at the Founders Park swimming pool, located at mile marker 87 bayside.
Entry fees are $95 per individual swimmer, $75 per person for members of a two-person team and $50 per person for members of a four-person team. Admission for spectators is free. Swimmers can register at www.swimalligatorlight.com or at www.active.com.
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