Bruce Herman's experience speaks to the draw of the Beaufort River Swim.
The Utah resident plans his Hilton Head Island vacation to coincide with the open water race and last year swam the event for the third time, finishing runner-up.
"The swimming community is such a nice community," the then 53-year-old Herman said last year after earning a bobblehead doll for winning his age group. "It attracts fun people and people out looking for an adventure on a Saturday morning like this."
The eighth annual River Swim starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. Swimmers launch from Port Royal Landing Marina and swim with the tide and under the watch of spotters in kayaks, finishing on the boat landing at Beaufort Downtown Marina.
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Proceeds from the race, which costs $40 in advance and $50 on Saturday, go to the Wardle Family YMCA's Learn to Swim programs.
Last year's event raised more than $4,500 for the programs, which allow individuals to participate who otherwise would not have been financially able.
Of the 500 scholarship swim lessons the YMCA gave last summer, close to half were funded through the River Swim, said Rick Simonds, senior program director and River Swim director.
Simonds expects between 150 and 175 swimmers Saturday, depending on how many are walk-up registrants.
"It's one of those interesting, fun events, because it's in the Beaufort River, which is a unique location," he said. "Not a lot of (races) have where you can go out in the open water."
John Evans, of the Bluffton Fins swim team, won the overall race in 2013. He finished in 52 minutes, 3 seconds. Megan Ciampa was the top female finisher in 53:37, sixth overall.
Eighth Annual Beaufort River Swim
What: An approximately 3-mile open water race held in the Beaufort River with the tide, starting at the Port Royal Landing Marina, winding around the curve and finishing adjacent to Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
When: 8 a.m. Saturday; check-in from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 a.m.; pre-race meeting at 7:50 a.m.
Where: Beaufort Downtown Marina
Details: Registration is $40 in advance and $50 on Saturday. Buses will be available to carry swimmers from the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot, where they register and where the race ends, to the race start at Port Royal Landing Marina. For information and to register, visit www.beaufortriverswim.com.
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.