The Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim
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
Chincoteague, 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 can be watched from the
land, by the swim area or from a boat.
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 the 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
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
The 2010 swim began
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
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
early. 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.
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.