A thrill for those who love the river, Great Ohio River Swim to memorialize Bill Keating Jr.

WCPOPublished: September 14, 2017
Published: September 14, 2017

The 10th annual Great Ohio River Swim will kick off Sept. 24 at the Serpentine Wall. It's the region's largest swimming event, with participants racing 900 yards across the river to Newport and back. The timed swim will begin at 8:15, with an awards ceremony to follow at 9:30. More than 1,300 swimmers ages 10-85 have participated in the event since it was introduced in 2007. This year, the swim will be renamed to honor Bill Keating Jr., one of the event's most passionate participants and supporters, who passed away earlier this year. Keating's daughter Caroline will co-chair. "My father and I often raced one another during the swim, and I actually beat him once," said Caroline Keating. "He loved the swim. Our family is honored that the committee has chosen to name the swim after my dad. This year we are reaching out to many competitive swim teams and to all folks who love the water. The growth of this event is exactly what my Dad would have embraced." In addition to providing family outdoor fun and a chance for participants to gather with fellow swimmers, organizer and participant Brewster Rhoads said the event helps people learn about river conservation. "Swimmers are invariably impressed with the cleanliness and beauty of the Ohio," Rhoads said. "They become more committed to protecting it." He said the Ohio River was recently highlighted in Travel and Leisure magazine as a place to visit in 2017. "The swim is an epic experience," said fellow organizer Jennifer Mooney, who also participates each year. "It offers a chance to be on the Ohio when it is peaceful and serene. Once people come, they are hooked. It is a beautiful way to experience our river." Offering advice for navigating the swim, Mooney said, "There is a slight current and slightly colder temperatures in the middle of the river. One has to be ready for that change upon entering the middle section. It is also important to stay in one's own space and avoid kicking other swimmers or getting kicked." The river will be closed to barge and powerboat traffic by order of the U.S. Coast Guard from 8-9 a.m. the day of the race. Certified lifeguards and safety boats will monitor the event, and a safety boom will be deployed to add additional protection for swimmers as they approach the finish line. Swimmers can register online through Sept. 17. Registration is $40 for adults 23 and over; $35 for college students 18-23 with a valid college ID; and $25 for teens 12-18. After Sept. 17, the entry fee goes up to $50 for all swimmers.

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