Had the honor on Sunday to volunteer for the inaugural Boston Frogman Swim.
The Frogman swim is in honor of the fallen among the Naval Special Warfare community. Over 100 Naval special operators have died since 9/11. Several families showed up today to represent their loved ones while 27 swimmers completed a 5K swim, each swimming in the name of one of the deceased.
Showed up at oh-dark thirty to help set up for the swim. In usual military style, the whole place was set up in no time at all, and at the end, torn down in less than 30 minutes like we’d never been there.
I was amazed at how many volunteers showed up to help out for the event. I was equally, or maybe, more amazed at all the people who volunteered who were not in any way connected to the military. Seriously, the first five people I spoke to, fellow volunteers, none of them had been in the military. Neither did they have any connection! They simply had friends who were in the Navy or thought it would be great to support the community. So wonderful and the reason why I love living in this wonderful country!
My new friend Jane was swimming today, and I was happy to see a couple other open water swimmer friends, Polly and David, swimming the event! Wetsuits were mandatory unfortunately, but probably best for the distance and temperature (53F).
Some actual Navy Seals swam it, as well as one kid who is going to BUD/S soon. Most of those guys all swam it with legit fins and mask. Due to the cold water, it was still quite the challenge.
I counted swimmers in and out of the water, along with my new friend Renee from the timing folks and we had former Navy guy Nick doing med checks at the end. The goal, said Nick, was to get each of them to put thumb and index finger together in the OK sign and use the letter F. He made all of them flash him the sign and “Repeat after me and say ‘I’m fine.'” Amazing how many of them responded “I’m great!” One former (retired?) Seal looked at him, flashed OK, and said “I’m f^&king great!” Not exactly what Nick asked, but he got the f-word he needed.
Then of course, the after-party. You can’t have a military crowd, or an event run by military, without having a get-together after to trade stories and drink beer. I walked that way with a swimmer named Ashe. She’s new to marathon swimming and this swim so far was her farthest. What a swim to tackle as your first 5k! We got to know each other on the one mile walk, and I also got to know her brother (kayaker) and her mother. (I pointed her toward all the great people at MSF as she was interested in going longer!)
The party was great. Volunteers and swimmers got to eat free and families just paid a little to join us. The ReelHouse did a great job. Still not sure if it was turkey or pork tenderloin. Don’t care. It was very tasty. And they had Lord Hobo’s Boomsauce. Oh hells yeah. Yours truly represented the Air Force honorably, but after four Boomsauces, it was time for IronMike to go home and take a nap.
Rory did a little speech and gave out a few awards, but most importantly, there were no number ones or anything like that. This was a challenge, not a race. My new buddy Charlie, from the Highlands of Scotland by way of Montana, Texas, California and Florida, won for raising the most money of anyone (swimming all three Frogman swims) and being the slowest. And if you’re so inclined, it is never too late to donate to this wonderful charity!
I’ve said it before, but volunteering really is a must if you’re serious in this community. I went many years just swimming and not volunteering and I’ve been working to correct that. Take a new open water swimmer out with you. Coach some kids in open water. Volunteer at a triathlon. Crew for someone’s marathon. Pay it forward and you will not be disappointed!