Members of the Delmarva Dogfish, a master’s 24-member swim team based at the Richard A. Henson Family YMCA in Salisbury, will swim from Cape Charles south to Virginia Beach in memory of Erik Mezick.
Mezick was killed when the box truck he was driving plunged off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in an accident on Dec. 29. The truck went over the rail on the northbound span. Mezick’s body was finally located several weeks later.
The swim will be held on Saturday, July 31.
An avid and lifelong swimmer, Mezick trained often with the Delmarva Dogfish and is remembered by teammate Jay DeBerardinis as “a humble lion.”
“He would work a 12-hour shift at the Detention Center and then come to the Y and swim a couple miles,” said DeBerardinis. “There were no excuses with Erik.”
Accompanied by Mezick’s family and friends and by the U.S. Coast Guard, swimmers will set off from Cape Charles shortly after sunrise at 6 a.m.
Before they begin the swim across the Bay, the group will pause for a memorial.
“We'll gather in the water in the morning -- a lot like a surf style ‘paddle out’ -- with time to allow friends and family to share their memories of Erik,” said Dogfish coach Mike Lahey.
“It feels right to remember him there -- he was always at home in the water,” Lahey said.
From there, four teams of six swimmers will take 30-minute turns swimming the 18-mile route that follows the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Each team will be accompanied by a boat captained by Mezick family friends, where swimmers will rest between their swims, and by a kayak to support the swimmer in the water.
Event organizer Dave Speier said the swim should take 10 to 12 hours to complete.
“Even though the bridge spans 18 miles,” Speier said, “the swim itself will be closer to 25 miles when you account for currents and other factors.”
Speier said the swimmers participating have extensive open-water swimming experience. “This is not an easy swim,” he said.
In addition to memorializing Mezick, the Delmarva Dogfish have established a fund-raiser for his family: wife Megan, son Dylan, 18, and daughter Hannah, 16.
Donations can be made at givesendgo.com/Swim4Erik. Funds raised will be handled by the Nanticoke River Swim and Triathlon and will directly benefit the Mezick Family.