Fifty cold-blooded but warm-hearted swimmers took to the Monterey Bay Saturday morning to raise money for local food banks and soup kitchens.
Organizers of the third annual, "Will Swim for Food" hope to break the $40,000 mark in donations. Last year’s event raised $18,300.
At 9:42 AM the first swimmers took to the water, which was actually warmer than the chilly 42 degrees on the beach. The swimmers were accompanied by a flotilla of kayakers and paddle boarders, and for added safety three boats manned by the Coast Guard Auxiliary patrolled the perimeter quietly in the back ground.
The swim was roughly a mile long. Most participants wore wetsuits and others were clad in scant swim suits. The event began with a safety briefing on the wharf. The group then moved to the starting line on Cowell’s beach. At the half way point, waiting in a rubber ducky raft, a volunteer bobbed at the end of the wharf giving coffee to the more leisurely minded athletes.
There were swimmers from Virginia, Oregon, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, and Half Moon Bay. Santa Cruz County also provided swimmers, including Santa Cruz city’s new Mayor, Hilary Bryant. The 50 swimmers are raising money for 10 food banks, two soup kitchens, and one soup pantry. The event is sponsored by Plantronics, Erik’s Deli and Annie Glass.
The first swimmer, a woman wearing # 4, finished first on the Boardwalk side of the wharf, the time was 10:09 AM. She was followed by several others clambered onto the beach, breathing heavily, as their supporters ran to them with towels and blankets as they waited for the rest of the swimmers to finish the benefit.