For several years, Lowcountry Splash organizer Mark Rutledge has talked about adding a longer swim to the usual 2.4-mile, tide-assisted swim from Hobcaw Yacht Club, down the Wando River and into Charleston Harbor to Patriots Point.
And he’s wanted the event to surpass the 500-finisher mark.
The former has happened and likely will make the latter come to fruition at the 12th annual event on Saturday. “I wanted the longer swim because a lot of swimmers asked for it,” said Rutledge. “A 2.4-mile swim with a current just isn’t much of a challenge for many accomplished swimmers.”
When registration opened for this year’s event, Rutledge said more people were signing up for the new 5-mile swim than the shorter event. Many lured to the longer swim were from out of town. “The thinking is that it’s worth flying to a swim that’s 5 miles,” said Rutledge, adding that one swimmer is flying in from Switzerland.
As of last Thursday, the event had 507 registrations. Of those, 390 had signed up for the 2.4-mile swim and 117 for 5 miles. Typically, Rutledge adds, the event gets 100 registrants in the final week before the swim. Rutledge said he expected to hit the 600-participant cap and close registration by Wednesday.
The 5-mile swim will start at the Daniel Island pier with the 2.4-miler from Hobcaw Yacht Club. Both finish at Patriots Point. The additional race has meant more work for Rutledge and his crew from Rehabilitation Centers of Charleston. “The logistics didn’t double. They tripled,” said Rutledge. “We had to totally revamp our safety plan.”
In fact, there will be a flotilla of agencies and volunteers along the course on Saturday. Among them are the Coast Guard, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Berkeley and Charleston county sheriff’s offices, Mount Pleasant Police, a half-dozen power skis with sleds, about 20 anchored boats and 25 kayakers from Lowcountry Paddlers and Coastal Expeditions.
All this effort raises money that goes to the Logan Rutledge Children’s Foundation, which supports the Lowcountry Aquatic Project Swimming. This year, the LAPS program expects to provide free swimming lessons to 1,200 urban youths at public pools in Charleston and North Charleston.
Another event celebrating its 12th year is the Folly Beach Wahine Classic, an all-female surfing contest that has become one of the most anticipated contests in the Charleston area.
The Wahine Classic will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Washout on Folly Beach.
Like the Lowcountry Splash, the event likely will be full at press time, but the event also is spectator-friendly, as surf contests tend to be. “I think the Folly Wahine is one of the most popular contests of the year,” said Wahine director Patti Noe. “It’s the only surfing event just for women.”
Noe said the contest, the lone female-only event in the state, serves up a nice mix of competition and fun. The event, as originally envisioned, has helped foster surfing among girls and women in the Lowcountry.
“It’s helped raise awareness that women do surf, and surf well at that. I believe it gives girls and women more confidence to get out there and do what they love,” said Noe. “Wahine has also helped spring many new friendships.”
And like any dynamic event, the contest is offering a few new twists this year.
Pro shortboard and longboard contests have replaced the open shortboard and long board events and offer nice cash prize to the winners: $1,000, said Noe. “Also, the top six wahines in each division will leave our contest with not only an awesome trophy and prize bag, but a check for up to several hundred dollars,” she said, adding that it has increased interest in the contest.
A couple of 5Ks round out the weekend of sporty events, including the well-established Green and Lean 5K that raises money for litter-prevention programs, community cleanups and beautification efforts of the city’s Keep Charleston Beautiful initiative.
The 5K starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at Brittlebank Park. It is followed by a children’s race, “Clara’s 50-yard tot trot.”
Unlike many races, Green and Lean tries to minimize the waste that typically is created by race events. “The Green and Lean 5K is Charleston’s first green race, and eight years later, we’re still proud of the minimal impact we have on our local environment,” said organizer Karen Hauck.
“We’re bottle-free, waste-free and our composting/recycling efforts divert nearly 100 percent of the materials generated from the event from the landfill. As our name suggests, be lean, be green and come out to support a great cause.”
The fee is $25 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-10, and free for 5 and under.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, the Run for Amanda 5K will be held in North Charleston. The event benefits Amanda Lanphere, a Charleston County paramedic who faced a “life-altering medical event” in February.
The event starts and finishes at Virginia Avenue and Cougar Way, a block from East Montague Avenue.
Packet pickup is 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Charleston County Rescue Squad headquarters, 2521 Rescue Drive in North Charleston, and 7- 8 a.m. Saturday near the race start.