17th Annual Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo

Memories are powerful things, and the memory of Nick Sheahan has helped nearly 200 students attend college. More so, his memory has spread awareness of shallow-water blackouts, preventing countless deaths from this under-recognized yet common risk of snorkeling and diving.

The Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo furthers these two important causes each year, raising more scholarship funds and teaching more people about shallow-water blackouts.

Shallow water blackout (SWB) is an underwater “faint” caused by prolonged breath-holding. It is often a result of pre-dive hyperventilation or overexertion, meaning even experienced swimmers are at risk if not more risk than untrained swimmers. The blackout occurs because there is not enough carbon dioxide in the blood to trigger a breathing response as oxygen decreases.

The result is the swimmer losing consciousness without warning, which then triggers a breath that causes water intake. Water depth does not matter as the effects are sudden, and it is believed that 20% of drownings are due to SWB.

Last year’s Dolphin Rodeo was a record-breaking event. It awarded $48,000 in scholarships to Coral Shores’ graduating seniors, bringing the lifetime total to an astounding $408,000! This year’s fishing tournament is expected to be even bigger, with more anglers, more sponsors, and more money earned for local students.

Nick’s father and event founder, Tom Sheahan, says, “We strive to do better every year, and our community makes it happen time and time again. We are very thankful for their support and look forward to an even better showing this year.”

Nick Sheahan

The 17th Annual Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo will be held the first weekend of May at Tavernier Creek Marina. It begins with the Kickoff Party on May 3rd, the 2-day tournament begins on May 4th, and the weekend of fun wraps up with the Awards Dinner on May 5th.

Often referred to as “the party of the year,” this year’s Friday night Kick Off Party provides great music by DJ Dave and delicious food by Mike’s BBQ 101. Non-anglers are welcome to attend with a social ticket for only $40, which includes dinner.

The Kick Off Party’s Silent Auction and 50/50 raffle are big attractions for anglers and social guests alike. Guests know to expect high-quality items, like local artwork, jewelry, a high-end cooler, fishing gear, fuel cards, and gift certificates for fun fishing trips and beautiful hotel stays. By popular demand, this year’s auction is returning to in-person, paper bids.

The 2-day tournament prizes are just as generous! Every year, nearly 150 anglers compete in hopes of breaking the Florida state record for the largest Dolphin Fish and claiming the grand prize of $25,000.

If the state record goes unbroken, 1st place will receive $5,000, 2nd place $2,500, and 3rd place $1,000. The cash prizes and coveted trophies are awarded to the Adult Division, and the Junior Division receives trophies and other prizes. The anglers who weigh in the largest wahoo and tuna can look forward to 100 gallons of fuel from Chris’s Bait and Tackle, along with a trophy.

Tom Sheahan gives special thanks to Tavernier Creek Marina, Bucked Up Energy, the event team members Becky Bohnstedt, Joe Biondoletti, Jaime Snyder, Brandy Smith, Jamie Gunthner, Michael Borguss, and the many sponsors, volunteers, and donors.

Visit NickSheahan.com to compete, attend, sponsor, donate, or volunteer at this year’s Dolphin Rodeo.

Life-Saving Tips to Prevent Shallow Water Blackout:

·       Always dive or practice endurance with a buddy

·       Never hyperventilate more than 3 or 4 breaths

·       Treat your weight belt as disposable and drop it if in doubt

·       Remember that SWB occurs suddenly and at any depth

·       Learn CPR and how to adapt it to shore, board, or boat

Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor who loves to travel vicariously through stories.

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