Published: Jul 05, 2011 11:30 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 05, 2011 10:30 PM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE Fla.- Hundreds of people gathered on Independence day morning on the shore of the peace river.  They came to swim across the Peace River. The freedom swim is an annual tradition in Charlotte County Mike Haymans and Frank Desguin wouldn't have missed this occasion for the world. They are two of the original founders of the event which started 20 years ago with just a handful of people. "We had 13 of us gathered and we swam over to Punta Gorda through the bridges," said Haymens. Now the event attracts hundreds of people every year.


Shannon Moore has been coming to the Freedom Swim every year for the last several years with her daughter. "It has become like a ritual that we do every year," said Moore. But part of the reason it's called the freedom swim is because of the tradition that some swimmers have of freeing themselves of their garments midway through the swim. That is a rumor that Desguin refused to confirm or deny. Weather swimmers chose to swim free or just take it easy, by the time most of them reached Harpoon Harry's on the other side of the river, they were glad to be done