Fallen SEALs honored in swim around Coronado Island

Posted at 9:03 PM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 00:03:23-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - Honoring fallen Naval Special Warfare Operators, a group of a dozen swimmers made their way around Coronado Island Thursday morning.

The group consisted of current and former SEALs as well as other service members and some civilian family members.

Most of the swimmers participated in a relay, swimming 20 minutes off-and-on. But Jeff Utsch, a tactical swim instructor for the SEALs, did the entire 11.8 mile route by himself.

"It wouldn't be as meaningful if it didn't hurt a little bit," he said, admitting his calves cramped up around mile 7.

But the pain was the point, he says, recalling a conversation he had with a deployed service member 15 years ago that motivated him to always push himself.

"It comes down to this: if they are going to sacrifice over there for our freedoms here they don't want us sitting on the couch eating Cheetos," said Utsch.

That's where Shawn Cassidy comes in. He's a veteran and CEO of the Leadership and Freedom Center. He helped organize the 1st Annual SEAL memorial Swim and recruited boat support from Utopia Management and 

"We never want to forget," said Cassidy, which motivated him to get in touch with Utsch and put this event together.

While the swim was meant to honor all Naval Special Warfare Operators who have lost their lives, Utsch was swimming for two in particular, Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty. The two were killed on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi. Utsch said he met Woods while working in San Diego.

"Great guy, hard worker," Utsch remembered.