March 3, 2008

First annual Seal Swim was a chilling event
 ...With Slideshow


Hatteras Island’s first annual Seal Swim didn’t last very long – maybe about five minutes.  However, all those who took a quick dip in the chilly Atlantic to benefit Locomotion, the island’s teen association, will remember it.  

And so will Locomotion director Kathy Kiddy.  The event raised more than $1,200 for the teen group, much more than many of its other fundraisers.

The morning of the Seal Swim, Saturday, March 1, was seasonably cool – in the mid-50s – but the southwest wind was steady and gusty, which made it feel much colder on the beach in front of The Outer Banks Motel in Buxton.  The ocean water temperature was about 47 degrees when about 14 swimmers headed for the dive into the ocean.

While a crowd of people watched from the beach, the brave made a sprint to the ocean, got wet, and got out as fast as they got in.

Outstanding among the sprinters was Russ Kiddy, who obviously will go to any length to help his wife raise money for the teens.  Kiddy was outfitted in a purple tulle tutu, purple fishnet hose, pink Crocs, and a pink boa.  Needless to say, he stood out among the folks milling around on the beach.

Kristen Ferguson and Megan Higginbotham, who were the only two who showed up early to enter the sand sculpture contest that preceded the Seal Swim, must be recognized for their stamina while building an outstanding sand castle on the beach.

Friends and supporters showed up early to visit with each other and support their Seal Swimmers.  The Dare County Sheriff’s Office helped with traffic, the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad had a boat in the water, and Dare County Emergency Medical Service personnel stood guard on the beach – along with Anita Bills of Frisco, a volunteer lifeguard.

Carol Dillon, owner of the Outer Banks Motel, gave the group her blessing to have the event on her motel’s beachfront, and the National Park Service agreed to let the group have their gathering and dip in the ocean. Afterward, the swimmers and their supporters had coffee and hot chocolate at Keith Gray’s Diamond Shoals restaurant.

“It was just a good time had by friends and neighbors,” said Kiddy.

The goal of the Seal Swim and a goal of Locomotion, Kiddy said, is to raise the awareness of the problems of substance abuse on the island.

The second annual Seal Swim will be on Saturday, March 7, 2009.

This year’s intrepid swimmers were Rich Kenner, Kerry Hooper, Richard Augustson, and Kevin Scarborough, representing Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative; Sherry Smith, representing Vane Brothers Tug Boat in Baltimore, Md.; visitors Nick Rossi and Andy Kennedy, and Alissa Oberbeck, Kristen Ferguson, Megan Higginbotham, Russ Kiddy, Travis Salyers, Libby Tawes, and Wolfgang Blackwood.

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