Julie Madison - Around Longboat Key

Clockwise circumnavigation of Longboat Key from public beach access at 3495 Gulf of Mexico Dr

34.4 km (21.4 miles)

11 hours, 25 minutes on 21 April 2022

Observed and documented by Laura Elliott




  • Name: Julie Madison
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 34
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Cortez, Florida

Support Personnel


Laura Elliott

Escort Vessels: unnamed motor boat (Harbour Landings Cortez) and kayak

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, with exception of Garmin GPS watch worn by swimmer.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Luli Fama bikini), cap, goggles, Garmin watch.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, New Pass, and Longboat Pass
  • Route Type: circumnavigation
  • Start & Finish Location: Beach in front of 3495 Gulf of Mexico Dr (27.377910, -82.63559)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 34.4 km (21.4 miles) (map)


No known previous swims of this route.

Swim Data

  • Start: 21 April 2022, 07:28:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, America/New_York, UTC-4).
  • Finish: 21 April 2022, 18:53:10
  • Elapsed: 11 hours, 25 minutes, 10 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 72 80
Air Temp (F) 66 84
Wind (mph) 11 20

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 5 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Every 20-30 minutes, combo Chia Seeds, Coconut water, mango juice.

Observer Log

Download PDF


by Julie Madison

Course: Circumnavigation of Longboat Key, based on map-o-meter and my knowledge of the Island I figured the route would be somewhere between 21-23 miles. High tide was supposed to be 2:00 that day so the plan was to start on the gulf side, have the current pull me into the bay, hit the shallows on the back end at high tide, and then have the current pull me back into the gulf at the southern tip of the island. I know I am a consistent 30 minute mile swimmer so we left at approximately the middle of the island. Kayakers were scheduled for 4 shifts, 2 kayakers each, each leg was approximately 6 miles or 3 hours. Winds were predicted to be 15-20 mph out of the east, so I would have protection while I swam in the Gulf, and be hit by wind on the inter coastal. Distance ended up at 23.19

To see me start: Garry Fenimore (In charge of land logistics), Laura Elliot (In charge of observation and recording details, Amanda Girton and John Davis (First kayak leg); Gregg Meyers and Jordan Valenza (Support Swimmers), Wes Tone (helped in planning), Karen Kersch Tone (Photographer and had Drone footage)

Started behind the public access sign 3495 on the beach to have a clear and obvious marker for a finish and we headed North. Amanda and John followed a little bit to the left most of the time and slightly behind. Gregg stayed a little behind to my right, Jordan was behind us at varying distances of 10-50 ft for the first mile then he turned back. Gregg stayed with me for the first leg, although recommended support swimmer time is an hour, I felt that this would not violate the rules or spirit as the day would be almost 12 hours and I would not have another support swimmer with me after he exited the water, this was also the easiest section where a support swimmer was 100% for the pleasure of swimming with a good friend then relying on their presence to get me through. This also made his extraction point the same point as the kayak exchange which made the logistics on land easier, as the motor boat wouldn’t get there till later in the day.

The gulf was as expected, smooth and clear waters, I could see the bottom most of the time. At one point Amanda and John saw a pod of 50 dolphins. I saw lots of sand. I played around with Gregg, making sure to stay just in front of him and not getting too far ahead of him. Laura Elliot was walking the beach at this point to keep eyes on me and to record observations from the kayakers in terms of stroke rate, etc.

At the Northern tip of the Island, John and Amanda and Gregg went to shore and Nikki and Michael were already waiting for me. We went into the channel and started to get hit with that eastern wind. The first mile or so going through the channel and heading south wasn’t horrendous as there are two small islands that offered some protection. As we proceeded to make our way South, the waves from the boats and the wind picked up and continued to bash me until we hit Whale key. At some point during that section Laura and my husband appeared on the boat and kept us company, my guess would be about 30 minutes or a mile south of the northern tip is where they joined up with us. I was super excited to see them but I had bigger fish to fry. They stayed with us, my husband Bill on the outer side next to the boat channel to give us more protection from the boat traffic so we wouldn’t get run over.

The water got shallow and Bill drove the boat and parked it next to Whale key, he got in the kayak to come meet up with us. We proceeded about a 1/2 mile where it got shallower and at this time I began to get cold. The shallow water was not quite so bumpy which was nice, but I upped my food intake since I was getting cooler. Gregg and John were waiting for us at whale key, Bill went back to the boat, and drove it around the eastern side of whale key to wait for us further south as it was too shallow for the motor boat to go on the western side of whale key, while me Nikki and Michael went straight through on the western side. Nikki and Michael went in, and John and Gregg took over, I joked with them about them bringing me better wind luck than the last two kayakers. They didn’t laugh. We all knew it was gonna be a long 6 miles. So we proceeded for the next 5ish miles through a hellish wavy landscape. As we approached the southern end Gregg kept telling me 500 more yards… my husband kept the boat around us and mostly I swam in between the kayakers at the boat about 25-50ft on either side. Every now and then Laura, John, Bill or Gregg would give me verbal motivation. At about 500-1,000 yards to go the waves lightened up a bit. We rounded the southern tip and Garry was ringing cowbells and Bill was honking his horn. There were some random strangers cheering for me too. John and Gregg said goodbye. John told me it was my victory lap and to keep smiling because I was there, all I had to do was finish.

Nikki and Michael came back out, the current pulled me swiftly out into the gulf and I did a few backstroke strokes because my shoulders felt like someone had taken a meat tenderizer to them. The last 5 miles was smooth and uneventful, I had to concentrate on staying moving and warm as my teeth were chattering in my head. I didn’t know if I would finish till I got to the last mile. With a sense of purpose I finished, the crew on land positioned to make sure I finished the true circumference.

Quotes from my crew about the day:


I’ve been swimming since I was a kid. I started in our home pool and ended competing through college.

After college I needed a break from the pool and discovered open water swimming and AMI Hogfish and it has been a blast!

Kayaking along Julie’s marathon swim was an amazing experiment. Between the gorgeous view and being inspired by such a feat was fantastic.

John and I were the first kayak shift for Julie. I specifically was responsible for ensuring that Julie did not make contact with the kayak, draft off the support swimmers or kayak and also that she did not touch the sea floor. I can honestly say she did this swim all on her own. And quickly too!

Nikki Pearce

Sat, Apr 23, 2:02 PM (3 days ago)

I swam regularly whilst serving with the British Army, completed a few open water swims, but generally in water temperatures of sub 60 degrees. I have taught adults and children to swim, so swimming has been part of my life for a long time. When I moved to Florida 3 years ago, I was introduced to the Hogfish swim group and the warmer waters of the Gulf. I found swimming is one of the best forms of exercise, physically and mentally. I have swam 5km, but would like to swim end to end AMI this year.

I loved being part of Julie's circumnavigation of Longboat Key, if this challenge didn't inspire you, then nothing will! The conditions on the Gulf side were just about perfect, this gave Mike and I a very leisurely and enjoyable paddle. Conditions were more challenging in the Bay, we encountered gusts of 20mph and boat traffic.  I think Mike and I were like a well oiled machine, we kept Julie motivated and fed ensuring she maintained hydrated and focussed. There were many highlights, a huge pod of dolphins was playing in the Gulf just before we took over leg 2, the sheer clarity of the water and the final stretch with the sun just starting to set and seeing the welcoming party to greet Julie into the finish. It really was a magical day and a truly inspirational achievement.  


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