Swimmers make the turn around Alligator Lighthouse during the swim in 2021. DAVID GROSS/Weekly File Photo

Nearly 500 solo and relay team open-ocean swimmers will attempt to complete the annual Swim for Alligator Lighthouse Saturday, Sept. 10, a unique endurance challenge in Atlantic Ocean waters off Islamorada.

Individuals and two-, three- and four-person teams must conquer the 8-mile round trip in less than eight hours. To compete as an individual, a participant must show proof of completing a prior 1,650-meter or 1-mile swim in 45 minutes or less. All swimmers must have a support kayaker.

Originally sanctioned by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the event features an in-water start and beach finish at the host hotel, Amara Cay Resort at MM 80.5 oceanside.

First- through fifth-place solo and relay team finishers will win awards in male, female and mixed divisions. All successful participants receive a finisher medal and souvenir towel.

Early-bird check-in and packet pickup is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at Amara Cay. An informal meet-up social is planned for 6 to 9 p.m. at Florida Keys Brewing Co. at 200 Morada Way. Participants also can check in Friday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Amara Cay.

Saturday, wave starts for swimmers will begin by 7:45 a.m. All swimmers must exit the water by 3:30 p.m. An awards ceremony with dinner begins at 6 p.m. at La Siesta Resort, located at MM 80.2 oceanside.

Entry fee is $210 for solo swimmers, $200 per person for a two-person team, $190 per person for a three-person team and $180 per swimmer on four-person relay teams. All swimmers must provide their safety-kayaker information to race officials. Online registration is available and the field will be capped at 490 swimmers, according to race officials.

The event is a fundraising effort for the Islamorada-based Friends of the Pool Inc., a nonprofit group that in 2021 was granted ownership of Alligator Reef Lighthouse under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The group intends to restore the 148-year-old beacon.
Alligator Reef Lighthouse is named after the USS Alligator, a U.S. Navy schooner that ran aground and sank on the reef in 1822.

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