The family of Erik Mezick (left) will be cheering on swimmers from a support vessel as they cross the mouth of the Bay. Photo courtesy of Kevin Mezick.

Swim Team to Cross Mouth of Chesapeake Bay in Honor of Truck Driver Erik Mezick

Erik Mezick lost his life last December, when his box truck plunged off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) between Cape Charles and Virginia Beach, Va.  Mezick, 47, was from Fruitland, Md. outside Salisbury. He was a powerful swimmer. Now, some of his swimming friends are planning to remember and honor Mezick by swimming across the Chesapeake Bay.    

Kevin Mezick, Erik’s brother, says Erik had been swimming since he was a child. According to Kevin, “It was not unusual for him to put in 100 laps a day. He made the butterfly look easy.” Kevin, and others who knew Erik, believe Erik would have survived the crash and could have swum to safety if the water had not been so cold.  

Erik often practiced in the YMCA pool with members of the Delmarva Dogfish, a group of mostly open-water swimmers.  According to Mike Lehey, the interim coach for the Delmarva Dogfish, “About half of our members swim in open waters, and most of the other half are triathletes. But, we have to practice in the pool, and that is where club members met Erik. Everyone was impressed with Erik’s interest in community support. He never had a bad word to say about anyone.”

The Delmarva Dogfish, Erik’s former training group, will swim across the mouth of the Bay in his honor. Photo courtesy of Delmarva Dogfish.

24 of the Delmarva Dogfish plan to remember Erik on July 31, 2021, by swimming across the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, between Cape Charles and Virginia Beach.  They plan to depart Cape Charles at sunrise.  The swimmers will stop just off the beach for a short memorial service before the trek begins. This will not be an easy swim. There is a lot of boat traffic in the area, in addition to strong currents, big waves, and jellyfish. “The distance is about 18 miles in a straight line, but because of the currents, we expect the teams to cover 25 or 26 miles before the day is over,” said Lehey. The entire swim is expected to take 10 to 12 hours.

There will be 4 teams.  Each team will swim for 30 minutes, then another team will take over, relay-style.  The Coast Guard and volunteer boats will be along for support and safety. Kevin Mezick, and Erik’s family, will be supporting the swimmers from a sport-fishing vessel. The swimmers will land at either Chick’s Beach or First Landing State Park, ending the day with a post-swim cookout, where everyone can remember Erik.  

If you are at the mouth of the Bay on the 31st, you might be able to spot the flotilla moving south along the CBBT. You can also follow their progress on Facebook under Delmarva Dogfish or Finding Erik Mezick. The swim is a fundraiser, and all proceeds raised will be donated directly to Erik’s surviving wife and two children. You can donate at givesendgo.com/swim4erik.

Kendall Osborne