Alander Berkis didn't quite reach his goal yesterday, but he said it was worth trying anyway.
Berkis, 62, a History professor at Longwood College in Blackstone, Va., tried to swim 10 miles across Chesapeake Bay, starting at Rosehaven on Tilghman's Island just off the Eastern Shore. After 11 hours and 5 minutes in the water, he had to be pulled onto the boat that had followed him, about two miles short of the island.
"I made the point that a person can indulge in physical exercise no matter how old he is," Berkis said after it was over. "I think I have a right to feel good right now."
Berkis, who successfully completed a 100-mile swim in Florida in May, said he was not exhausted when he gave up the swim but decided to come out of the water because of a strong tide and high winds.
"I didn't anticipate how strong the current would be," Berkis said. "That was disappointing because it wasn't as bad in Florida. I just felt that the tide was too strong and the water was too choppy for me to make it without using up all my reserve and possibly get [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
Berkis emerged from the water at ting in trouble."
Coach Island after breasststroking and sidestroking his way across the bay, starting at 5:30 a.m.
After greasing his body from top to bottom with vaseline and putting in earplugs, Berkis waded into the moonlit bay. Once he was about 200 yards out, he began swimming. He kept swimming, alternating strokes, until giving up at 4:35 p.m.
Berkis had said before starting that he would not keep swimming if it meant leaving the water exhausted. "I want to be able to swim again," he said. "I have to save something for the next time I go into the water."
Berkis, who grew up in Latvia and came to the United States in 1945, says he plans to continue swimming long distance "as long as there is water."
But if he tries to swim the bay again, he'll probably have to look for a different boat crew.