(WSVN) - Swimmer Julie Madison was greeted to the sounds of victory as she rounded the bottom parts of Longboat Key Island.
“Just to hear the cowbells and to hear the horns, that really helped get me through the victory lap of five miles,” said Madison.
Last week, Madison became the first person to ever swim the entire 21-mile circumference of the island, which took her 11 hours.
“For comparison, that’s pretty much like doing four marathons of running, so it takes a a lot of nutrition and a lot of coordination with the kayakers,” she said.
The open-water swimmer said the swim was incredibly difficult.
“It was a really, really rough day, we had super smooth on the gulf, and then 15 to 20 around the bay side, so it was choppy. I compared it to, like, getting no air for about six hours,” she said.
This is not Madison’s first bout with swimming over long distances.
She is also the first person to swim 17 miles around Anamaria Island, which she has done twice since December.
Madison does this because she loves the challenge.
“Honestly, even at the worst parts of Longboat Key or any of the other swims I’ve done, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said.
Her mission for completing these difficult tasks is to inspire people to challenge themselves.
“I love a good battle,” she said.
For Madison, it’s a battle she gets to choose to fight because of the battles that veterans have fought for us.
“It makes me super appreciative of my freedom and my ability to come and do stuff like this,” she said.
She swims to raise money and awareness for the Forgotten Coast K-9 organization. This organization helps to get service dogs to first responders and veterans to thank them for the freedom that they’ve given us.
“To have that freedom to be who we want to be, I feel like its a disservice to them if we don’t live up to that expectations,” said Madison.
To learn more about Forgotten Coast K-9, click here.
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