The Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim

The WaitThe Annual Pony Swim is on the Wednesday before the last Thursday in July. The auction is held on the last Thursday. The return swim is on the following Friday. The ponies swim from Assateague to Swim from the BoatChincoteague, rest for about an hour and then run down Ridge Road, to Beebe Road, to Main Street and then up to and in the carnival grounds. They are then held in the corral until the following morning when some of the foals are sold at auction. The herd swims back to Assateague the following day, Friday.

The swim over the boatsThe swim can be watched from the land, by the swim area or from a boat. Public vantage points from land include Memorial Park and down Pony Swim Lane. Also various rental homes overlook the area. Boats anchored in the channel adjacent to the swim area can provide an excellent opportunity to observe the ponies up close as they cross the channel. Parking for the event is provided by the Town of Chincoteague at the high school with a trolley service shuttling guest from theReturnSwim2011 school to Memorial Park. Because of the popularity of the event it is common for our guests to start gathering both in the public access areas and on boats by the swim lane well in advance of the event, to secure a good observation point. At the 2010 swim, boats started anchoring at 5am that morning as other guests on shore were staking out their spots. The swim begins when the current in the channel is slack, no lateral movement of the water. This allows the ponies to go straight across the channel without drifting left or right.  The 2010 swim began Salt Water Cowboys when the first pony entered the water at 11:56 am and continued until the last pony arrived on the far bank at 12:01p. For those who choose to follow Pony Swim Lane down to the marsh where the ponies come ashore they should consider they will be standing in a very marshy area. An excellent video of folks watching from Pony Swim Lane area can been seen at this link. The return swim can offer the same opportunity to watch the ponies swim across the channel without as much competition for viewing space and a much shorter wait for the event.

If you are interested in watching the swim or attending the auction it is important you reserve your accommodations well in advance of the event. If you wish to watch the swim from one of the local charter boat, those reservation should also be made Boats at the Swimearly. It is not uncommon for boats to be reserved a year in advance. You can of course bring your own boat. However be forewarned there will be a large number of boats operating in a very confined space with a strong current. Some of the operators you may encounter may not have experience in this environment. Cut or fouled anchor lines and the occasional bumps are not uncommon.  If you are unsure of your boating skills, concerned about your boat or just have a short temper it might be a good idea to leave your vessel at the dock for this event. You will notice in the picture to the right above the boats lined up side by side for the width of the channel. The Carolina Skiff in the center of the same picture contains then Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to the left and his daughter in the center of the boat.

1930 Swim 

If you have questions about future swims, call the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce at 757 336-6161. If you are interested in reserving a seat on one of Captain Dan's boats contact Captain Dan at 757 894-0103.

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