Have you ever thought about swimming across Mobile Bay? Five guys from Mobile did, and they pulled off the feat just a few weeks ago.
News 5 caught up with four of the five men who told us their story that started in Point Clear and ended Western Shore of Mobile Bay near Dog River.
“We looked over across the bay and thought ‘that would be a challenge someday,’ but I never could get anybody to do with me,” said Chad Hon. “We talked it about a lot.”
After 20 years of waiting, Chad Hon finally found four others brave enough to join him, and on the morning of Oct. 29, all five Mobilians took a boat out to the Grand Hotel, jumped into the water there and swam all the way back to the Mobile Yacht Club.
“We got up that morning, got in the boat, checked the weather one final time and realized that with the breeze [and] the tide chart that it would be easier to start on the Eastern Shore and swim back towards Dog River,” Hon said.
They knew that despite not being the first to make the swim, those who went before them before drew headlines like Gaywood Steadham, who braved the bay when he was just 19 years old back in 1933.
“He graduated from Murphy, was born in 1913 and he started at Arlington Park — just north of Brookley — and swam to Point Clear,” said McCrary Otts. “We’re not sure what the distance was, [but] we do know it was a little bit further that what we swam.”
The swim was approximately 11 miles in distance and lasted about 8 hours. At times, the guys felt like they had bit off more than they could chew.
“You could start to see the bridge, and then you starting moving an hour or so later, and you could start to see the cars,” said Stephen Greenleaf. “You’re thinking, ‘Golly we’re getting close!’ but it seemed like the last hour was dragging, but we did it!”
Just in case, a boat followed the swimmers. They used it to take breaks, hydrate and eat, but their feet never touched the bottom of the Mobile Bay.
“The other guys brought like, sports nutrition gels, sports drinks,” said Sean Hylton. “I kind of went the junk food route with Little Debbie’s and Krystal burgers, but it tasted good!”
Much like the sweet taste of success that marked the end of their journey, one that will told and retold time and again for the rest of their lives.
“I’m sure there are some people who’ve done it, but it’s a small group,” Hon said. “Now we’re part of it, I’m proud of it.”
An accomplishment that, for some of the swimmers, can only be achieved once in a lifetime.
“Yeah, one and done,” Greenleaf said. “We just had to do it.
“Now it’s a little notch on our little post.”
But that sentiment didn’t resonate with the whole group.
“I’d love to do it again,” Hylton said. “I hope we can do it again.”
Dr. David Forbes was the fifth member of the team.
Since sharing their story, viewers have come forward with their own personal stories of friends and family who also braved the journey. Share yours with us by leaving a comment or sending an email to our newsroom.