Former Navy SEALs to swim across Lake Norman to raise awareness

Former Navy SEALs to swim across Lake Norman to raise awareness

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by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 31 at 11:08 AM

LAKE NORMAN, N.C. -- Two former Navy SEALs are set to swim more than 12 miles across Lake Norman Friday. 

The swim is raising awareness for Operation Restored Warrior, a program in Colorado that works with veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. 

Mooresville resident and former US Navy SEAL Shannon Rusch and friend and fellow SEAL Rich Graham will take off from Queen's Landing at 10 a.m. 

They'll then swim the 12. 2 miles to the Rusty Rudder, a lakeside restaurant.  Rusch estimates it will take the two men six to eight hours. 

"It's going to be difficult, no matter how you cut it.  So, it's just going to be one of those things, you commit to it and then go out and do it," he said. 

Rusch and Iredell County resident Randy Millwood came up with the idea for the swim.  Millwood is a former Air Force pilot and said both men were looking for a way to lend a hand to Operation Restored Warrior and the veterans that the program helps. 

"They put them through a five day program called the drop zone and it's all about making them comfortable with their surroundings so, they open up with other vets that have been through similar experiences," said Millwood. 

Rusch said he understand what some of those veterans are going through. 

"You know, you go from a very structured lifestyle to coming home and not having that structure and maybe not having that guaranteed paycheck, and then that creates problems in the family." 

It's those veterans he'll be thinking about on Friday.  

"If it takes me doing something crazy like swimming 12 miles in Lake Norman to raise awareness for these guys, then I feel obligated to do so."

The public is invited to a party at the Rusty Rudder starting at around 6 pm.  That's about the time Rusch and Graham should be finishing their swim. 

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