TARPON SPRINGS, Florida- It is the culmination in a holy day of celebration with 43 young men between 16 and 18 years old representing their community, families and faith.
After morning service and a procession through town, thousands gathered for the dive into the murky, manatee filled waters of Spring Bayou.
Braving the chilly air, divers clung to an outer ring of boats, some capsizing before the moment of truth.
It took a mere 13 seconds before the cross was retrieved.
STORY: Sarasota teen retrieves Epiphany Cross
"When you first hit the water you can't see anything, you can't breathe, it's so cold," said first time diver Gregory Kalouris. Even though he left the water empty handed, it's an experience he says he'll cherish always.
"I'm just glad to be a part of it after watching it, ever since I was little- to be part of it is a blessing in itself."
Peter Smith, 18 of Sarasota, was the lucky young man who first retrieved the cross. Embraced by his family and blessed by church leaders, the teen was carried through town on the shoulders of fellow divers, now forever part of this Tarpon Springs tradition.
"I couldn't be more proud," said Smith. "To represent the Greek Faith and the city of Tarpon Springs, I couldn't be more proud."
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