Jim Alabiso: 'I Just Take One Stroke at a Time' | Community Spirit

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Jim Alabiso: 'I Just Take One Stroke at a Time'
Jim Alabiso: 'I Just Take One Stroke at a Time'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Friends and family cheered as Jim Alabiso finished up a 3.5-mile swim across the St. Johns River.

"I think it's really great what he's doing," said his son James Alabiso.

Alabiso, a competitive open water swimmer, began his river journey in Fleming Island.  Two hours later, his white swim cap could be seen as he made his way into the dock at Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin.

"It was wonderful.  It was a lot choppier than I thought it would be, probably the windiest day that we've done this course," said Alabiso.

He was happy to make it to dry land after the long trip trailed by boats for safety.  It was on this same dock, five years ago, that Alabiso made a promise to himself.    

"At that point I said I'm gonna swim across this thing," he said.

But it ended up being more than just a solo swim.  Alabiso wants this to serve as a wake-up call to everyone.

"I'm doing it to show them you can do whatever you want to do if you work hard enough. I'm doing it so all these people can come here and learn more about the river," said Alabiso.

Alabiso hopes his mission brings awareness about the St. Johns River and why it's important to keep it clean and healthy.

"This is who we are as a people so when we don't take care of it, what does that say about us?," said Neil Armingeon, St. Johns Riverkeeper.

"It's for my kids and grandkids.  I want them to be able to jump in this river and swim across it someday," said Alabiso.

Jim's Journey took lots of training and preparation.  He said it all paid off and calls it an "in-the-moment" experience.

"When I first started this thing months and months ago, it was like I'm going to challenge the river.  But the river is challenging me," said Alabiso.

It's a nearly 4-mile challenge he had to take, hoping it'll make a difference.

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