Up the River Downtown – 6 Miles in the St. Johns River



I love this city.

Really.. I’ve liked it for quite a while now… but lately, I just love it. I remember having a conversation with my mom about Jax shortly after I moved here. I complained that I felt like something was missing and this just wasn’t the city for me. We concluded that Jacksonville was missing heart, missing a center. That conversation today would be the exact opposite. This city as heart. It has soul. It has a community – and I love it. I just needed to find it all.


Today, I participated in an incredible community event… a first timer. Up the River Downtown was intended to be a river advocacy swim with a few swimmers and a few crew members. We swim in the river all the time and wanted to do something a “little bigger” to show everyone that our waterways should used for recreation. Our river is not dead and should not be ignored. We are so lucky in Jacksonville to have both the ocean AND the river. We also decided to raise money for the local Special Olympics Swimmers, because, well, they’re pretty darn awesome.


Well, our “little bigger” turned into the largest in-and-on-the-water event in the St. Johns River. We had 10 swimmers, I’m guessing 15-20 crew members (SJRK boat, pontoon, SUP), two dragon boats (about 20 people each), and the Jacksonville Fire Association’s boat with fire fighters (who had a water spout going at some point). We all started at Jacksonville University with the plan of swimming about 6 miles down to the Riverside Arts Market.


We knew we were having a bunch of people joining us at the nearest public boat ramp, Arlington Boat Ramp. As the days grew nearer, we expected quite a few people.. we started calling it the “flotilla”. We did NOT expect forty-eight kayaks to join us. As we passed the boat ramp, we took a hydration stop. It was incredible looking around at all the people surrounding us in the river. Usually, we just have 2-3 kayaks. At one point during the swim, I took the opportunity to turn around and look behind me… it was such a beautiful sight. I really wish I had a camera (Diego had his GoPro.. hopefully a link to the video will be coming soon!) I’d like to send out a huge thank you to the volunteer flotilla – thank you for joining us and thank you for staying behind us, and allowing only the crew kaykers to remain up front; this kept the swimmers safe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

9/17/13 EDIT: Diego’s video has been posted! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N6PHkm7zs-Y

Photo taken by Jacksonville.com

Photo taken by Bruce Lipsky @ Jacksonville.com

Source: Jacksonville.com


The swim was incredible.. from Jacksonville University, past the Arlington Boat Ramp, past Exchange Island, under the Matthews Bridge, Under the Hart Bridge, under the Main Street Bridge, Under the Acosta Bridge, under the railroad tracks and to the Fuller Warren Bridge/Riverside Arts Market. A little over six miles. The water was warm (88 degrees) and a little choppy between near the Hart Bride (as usual) and yes, there was algae (light speckles, not much more than we have seen in the past)… but we could not have asked for a more perfect day.



Thank you to Megan for being our social media person (pretty last minute) – you were amazing. Thank you to the hundreds of people who met us at RAM. Thank you to my little swimmers who came to watch me swim :) And thank you, thank you to everyone who donated under my name/sponsored my swim – the Special Olympics Swimmers thank you too. Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for getting Honda to be my official sponsor :)


Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish


Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish





Roger - leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3

Roger – leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3


Author: swmslo

Just a girl (woman?) living life in North Florida... blogging, on occasion, about what seems to matter most to probably me and only me.

2 thoughts on “Up the River Downtown – 6 Miles in the St. Johns River

  1. Pingback: Aspirations | swmslo

  2. Pingback: 2013 Year in Review | swmslo

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