CHARLOTTE COUNTY - Hundreds of swimmers are anticipated to participate in Thursday's 22nd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River.
Exercising common sense (including swimming with a buddy) and courtesy are the only rules for this leisurely 1.5-mile event, which draws both swimmers and paddlers of all types.
This year's Freedom Swim is scheduled to begin at noon and participants are encouraged to arrive no later than 11:30am.
Participants will swim from the beach in Charlotte Harbor at the north end of the U.S. 41 Bridge, and head south across the waterway to Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office has issued the following traffic advisory for the event:
Traffic Safety During Freedom Swim
(Charlotte Harbor) The Annual Freedom Swim across the Peace River is scheduled for tomorrow beginning at noon, but the Sheriff’s Office wants the public to also be mindful of traffic considerations.
The swim route begins in Charlotte Harbor on the west side of the bridges and finishes at Fisherman’s Village. In order to insure the safety of pedestrians and drivers, due to the increased holiday traffic, the Sheriff’s Office is encouraging all swim participants to park at Fisherman’s Village and ride the Green Hibiscus trolley to the beach starting area. The trolley will be available from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm.
Those who do choose to park on the public lands on the east side of the bridges in Charlotte Harbor will need to access that parking off Melbourne Street. For safety purposes, the ‘driveways’ off US 41 northbound leading to those public lands will be cordoned off. There will be no parking permitted along the right-of-ways.
Pedestrians who want to cross US 41 from the public lands on the east side of the bridges to the swim start on the west side will need to either cross under the bridges or use a crosswalk. The nearest crosswalk is located at Kings Highway/Parmely Street and US 41. The Florida Department of Transportation will be conducting an inspection of the areas under the bridges prior to the event to insure the way is clear for pedestrian traffic.
Drivers need to be aware that no stopping will be permitted on US 41 to drop off participants. Anyone wishing to drop off participants are urged to do so at Fisherman’s Village so they can utilize the trolley.
The Sheriff’s Office’s goal is to make this event a safe one for everyone.