For the 92nd year in a row, a herd of 200 wild ponies swam across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island.
The swim takes place at “slack tide,” when the Assateague channel is at its calmest, and this year that meant it started at 6:47 a.m. That’s the earliest start in years.
Guided by “saltwater cowboys,” it took the ponies 18 minutes to swim across.
The Coast Guard enforced a safety zone, with smoke signals and two 24-foot USCG boat crews to keep spectators safe.
After they arrived on Chincoteague, the ponies took a rest and then paraded to the carnival grounds, where the foals will be auctioned off to benefit the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. Some of the foals are donated back to the fire company, and will return to Assateague Island with the herd.
The Assateague National Seashore estimates that some 40,000 people gather to watch the Pony Swim each year.