Hundreds participate in 33rd annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

Hundreds jumped into the Charlotte Harbor for the county’s annual freedom swim to beat the heat. Brave souls swam the 1.5-mile stretch to celebrate America’s birthday.

WINK News got an up close and personal view thanks to the Punta Gorda Fire Department’s boat.

“We provide the marine resources in case [they] cannot make the distance, and they need help getting out of the water before they get to their actual endpoint. Really, just for first aid purposes,” Lieutenant Alex Davenport said.

“Typically, when we get a call, it is the worst weather, the worst circumstance. To be able to cruise out here and enjoy it with everyone else is great,” sec Firefighter John Hall said.

The 1.5-mile swim isn’t easy.

“Every once in a while, you stop, and I’ll flip onto my back to try to get some sun on the front,” Olivia Humbel, a swimmer, said.

“You kinda blank out for most of the swim and hope you don’t see any fish that are bigger than you,” Tyler Hall, another swimmer, said.

One young man, Liam, just 13 years old, placed 2nd.

“Near the end, my arms started to give out; the water is very warm, but it felt good,” Liam said.

His mom, Suzanne Murtha, rode along with him in a kayak the whole way.

“It was awesome. I am so glad I am able to do that. I’m so glad I’m able to kayak and support; the ability to do that is awesome,” Murtha said.

The annual tradition started when an attorney and his friends decided this was how they wanted to celebrate the fourth. It then became known as a celebratory and inclusive swim that promoted freedom.

WINK News saw all different ages show up to the event. Everyone was in good spirits including Liam when he was finished.

“Hard to explain. I felt relief all over my body knowing that I didn’t have to support it anymore,” Liam said.

“He has been swimming since before he could walk. It is [an] incredible amount of work on his part. I am super proud of him,” Liam’s mother said.

Everyone WINK News spoke to said they are absolutely coming back to participate next 4th.

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