Swimmers decked out in red, white and blue took to the Peace River at Thursday at noon to celebrate their freedom.

“It’s July 4th. It’s a great day, it’s beautiful. We’re going to watch them swim and paddleboard. We’re kayaking and doing all kinds of things,” said participant Heather Kline.

The Charlotte Harbor Swim’s Co-Founder Michael Haymans says the turnout was typical even with the water’s elevated levels of bacteria and the Charlotte County Department’s warning.

“It’s part of nature. I don’t think it’s prohibited, it’s allowed. Don’t swallow it,” said Haymans.

“We’re going be on top of the water, hopefully and if we do get under the water I sure won’t open my mouth,” said swimmer Wanda Reed.

Participants started onshore at the North end of the U.S. 41 bridge and headed South across the waterway to Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.