here’s no overland swimming route from Elon, N.C., to Jupiter, Fla. There’s no 600-plus mile-long waterway that cuts swaths from South Carolina and Georgia to the peninsula.
Despite what seems like an insurmountable obstacle, this setback won’t stop Elon University students from going the distance.
Like U-Swim in the fall, in which students can choose another college or univeristy to “swim” to, Swim to Florida in the spring is a competition through Campus Rec’s aquatics program where students sign up and swim the distance from campus to one of three baseball spring training sites in Florida. The distance is measured by a lap in the pool, with one length of the pool counting as one mile.
This year’s competition lasts from Feb. 14 to March 16.
“You can swim in a bikini, you can swim in a Speedo, you can swim in any kind of bathing suit that’s appropriate,” said senior lifeguard Anna Hulett.
After their laps, swimmers must tell the lifeguard, like Hulett, how many laps they swam. The lifeguard then records the laps and totals up the distance. Some swimmers are already close to halfway to their destinations.
The Atlanta Braves’ camp is the closest to Elon, 610 miles away in Orlando, Fla., The Philadelphia Phillies are just slightly further, in Clearwater, Fla. 685 miles away, and the Florida Marlins are training in Jupiter, Fla., 739 miles from campus.
“Once you (swim the laps) you get a free T-shirt,” Hulett said. “Pretty simple and pretty fun.”
It would be feasible to try to swim to all three locations, but there’s a strict rule of only one shirt per participant. But if you don’t make it to your goal distance, there’s no reward.
For each half-hour of swimming for a 155 pound person burns 223 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Swimming is also less stressful on joints than running or weightlifting.
Beck Pool usually sees around 150 people participating in Swim to Florida. A week into the contest there were 60 people signed up. There’s still time to sign up before the final day, but waiting too long might make the endeavor difficult.
“Our shortest distance is 610 miles, so you could swim 610 miles in a day, if you really wanted to,” Hulett said.