Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Power Swim, hosted annually during the last week of May. The Power Swim was created to support sea turtle protection, marine conservation, and youth swimming programs. This is one of the nonprofit’s biggest events of the year and a kick off to the summer season.
To celebrate its 20th year, Friends of the Park created a raffle and crowdfunding campaign where contestants and supporters can enter to win nearly $5000 in prizes. (to enter, register here!) Prizes range from boat days and dinner at some of St. John’s favorite restaurants to beautiful gifts of jewelry from locally renowned jewelry store, Vibe Collection. Contestants can either buy one raffle ticket for $20 or six tickets for $100. Registration closes on May 27th, the day before the Power Swim, so be sure to register soon!
In addition to the raffle, supporters and swimmers can create their own crowdfunding campaign to support Friends of the Park’s many community centered programs. Support some of the fundraisers already created on this webpage or start your own. This is a great way to spread awareness about this beautiful, little island and its increasing need for conservation efforts. Also, if you or your friends and family want to support the Swim, but are not on St. John, purchasing raffle tickets and crowdfunding are some great ways you can be a virtual supporter!
Details about the Power Swim on May 28th
The 3.5 mile Power Swim is on May 28th. To register, go to the Friends of the Park page here. They close registration on May 19th or sooner if all 350 spots are taken. According to Friends, there’s about 50 spots left, so hurry to register!
Volunteer spots are also available if you want to get involved. Volunteers monitor swimmer’s safety by following the race in SUP’s, kayaks, and dinghies.
The Beach to Beach Power Swim will be swum as four events:
- Short course: for solo swimmers only (1 mile distance Maho to Cinnamon)
- Intermediate course: for solo swimmers only (2.5 mile distance from Maho to Trunk Beach)
- Long course: for solo swimmers only (3.5 mile distance from Maho to Hawksnest)
- Long course: for 3 person relay teams (3.5 mile distance from Maho to Hawksnest) The relay team transition points will be at Cinnamon and Trunk Beach.
The course is marked by buoys, though swimmers should familiarize themselves with the course before the race. There will be volunteers on SUP’s and kayaks bordering the race and water aid boats, in case swimmers need aid.
Swimmers can use basic gear such as head caps and nose clips for their swim without being considered “assisted”. Extra gear such as flippers or flotation devices are considered an assist.
Check in time at Maho Beach is from 7 to 7:30AM with the race starting at 8AM. The entire race lasts for a 3 hour duration. The awards ceremony afterwards will be at Trunk Beach with shuttles running from each beach.
All other information about the Power Swim can be found here on the Friends of the Park website.
So where do the donations go?
If you want to support many of Friends of the Park’s wonderful programs, register as a volunteer or swimmer for this event or consider a donation to the crowdfunding and raffle. The two main programs supported by these donations are the Learn to Swim and Sea Turtle Program.
Learn to Swim is one of the many programs that benefit from the charitable donations from the Power Swim. Friends of the Park offers free swimming lessons to anyone 4 + (adults too!). Lessons are at Cinnamon on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month and include free transportation from Cruz Bay.
The Sea Turtle Program is another program that benefits from donation. The Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program “aims to protect sea turtle nests, facilitate research projects, and spread awareness of sea turtle conservation in the Virgin Islands National Park.”
The program includes nest protection, volunteer beach monitoring, and education outreach. Nests are protected and monitored during season and hatchlings found during excavations are released into the ocean. Volunteers can sign up and train in June for turtle nesting season (July- September). Volunteers monitor select beaches for any signs of turtle nests.
The Sea Turtle Program also does education outreach at popular beaches such as Maho during winter season. Talking with Friend’s employees at Maho beach a few weeks ago, they said the outreach has made such a difference in people’s behavior towards marine wildlife because they know the do’s and don’ts of swimming with wildlife, especially our beloved turtles.
I hope to see everyone out there on May 28th for the official Power Swim! If you can’t be there in person, please remember to donate to the raffle or the crowdfunding page to support our Park!