It started small and spontaneous. Over thirty one years ago, Punta Gorda attorney Michael Haymans and some friends decided to celebrate the Fourth of July by swimming the 1.5 mile distance across the Peace River. They weren’t athletes in training; they had heard stories about how in the 1940s, swimming across the river was a rite of passage for teens.
They had a good time, they told their friends, and those friends told a few more friends.
Haymans resists commercializing the event. He doesn’t charge participants, require advance registration or give prizes.
It’s a happening, not a race; some don’t even swim. There are stand up paddleboards, inflatable rafts, inner tubes, even folks on plastic noodles. Kayaks join the procession with dogs on board. Takes about 40 minutes to 3 hours to cross.
There are no rules except using common sense and courtesy. (Swim with a buddy!) Many swimmers go for red, white and blue attire. For a few years, some swimmers took “freedom” to another level: They swam au natural and ran their swim suits up the mast of their sailboat. (Word has it that sailboat owner isn’t around any longer.)
The 2022 Charlotte Harbor Freedom swim will start at 9:00 AM at Live Oak Point-5100 Tamiami Trail Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980. You must sign in the day of the swim and it is recommended to be at starting point a half hour early to hear the instructions for safety. Participants will gather in the water/public beach on the northwest side of the north end of US41 North Bridge at the start of the swim, and parking is recommended at Fishermen’s Village since the swim ends at Harpoon Harry’s. Harpoon Harry’s will open and hour EARLY @10 am Monday morning to welcome guests and swimmers!
Over at Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda will keep the swimmers happy with live music until the fireworks start with a variety of children’s activities such as face painting. The fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor begins at 9 p.m. Here is a list of events: Fishermen’s Village Independence Day Celebration
Source: Herald Tribune