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Alligator Lighthouse Swim
News Shorts
Posted: September 11, 2023
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    Swimmers escorted by kayakers circle Alligator Reef Lighthouse on September 9, 2023, off Islamorada, Florida. (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
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    Swimmers head for their kayaker escorts after beginning the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse open-water challenge. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
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Swimmers took on an annual eight-mile ocean race on Saturday. They circled the Alligator Reef Lighthouse off the Florida Keys.

Connor Signorin was the male winner. He is a former All-American swimmer. (That means that he was a very good college swimmer.)

Brooke Bennett was the top female swimmer. She also finished second overall. She has won three Olympic gold medals.

Both swimmers excel at competing in pools. But the swim around the 150-year-old lighthouse is a different challenge.

“You’re here amongst the sea life and this is your natural form of swimming,” says Mr. Signorin. “This isn’t pool swimming.” He finished the race in two hours, 59 minutes, 44 seconds.

About 400 people raced. The event raises money to preserve the historic lighthouse.

The lighthouse isn’t named for the toothy reptile native to Florida. It honors the U.S. Navy Schooner Alligator. The ship was built in 1820. It was used to capture illegal slave ships and protect merchants from pirates.

In November 1822, Alligator was escorting a group of merchant vessels. It ran aground on the uncharted reef. The crew tried to free it. But the ship was stuck. Crew members removed most of the equipment and valuables. Then they set fire to the schooner to prevent pirates from using it. Alligator had a powder magazine. That’s where gunpowder and ammunition was stored. When the fire reached it, the ship exploded!

These days, sailors don’t need as many lighthouses. But years ago, beacons like the Alligator Reef Lighthouse saved many boats from wrecking on reefs or rocks. The lights helped sailors navigate.

The writer of Psalm 119 called God’s word “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Verse 105) Like the lighthouses helped sailors, that light helps us navigate the world and follow Jesus.