These 2 seasoned pool swimmers tried open water swimming for the first time at the Buzzards Bay Swim – and loved it

Competitive swimmers Alex Gallant, 20, and Nicholas Graca, 19, had never competed in an open water event before participating in the Buzzards Bay Swim – first as a youth team with Apponequet High School, and now as team Salty Seadogs. Now, as they prepare for their respective 6th and 3rd year swimming, they reflect on why they first tried the Swim and what makes them keep coming back.

How did you first hear about the Swim?

team Salty Seadogs at the 2016 Buzzards Bay Swim

Alex Gallant (center) and Nick Graca (right) as team “Salty Seadogs” at the 2016 Buzzards Bay Swim, where they won the Wheeler Watershed Challenge Cup for fastest adult team.

Alex: Our high school swim team (the Apponequet Lakers of Freetown/Lakeville) had been a part of this event for two years prior to me joining. So, my teammates encouraged me to join and help the cause.

Nick: I started swimming competitively my freshman year of high school, when I was 14 years old. When I was 17, I heard about the Swim from Alex and my swim coach, Brett Pacheco. Alex needed another swimmer for his team in order to have a chance at winning the Quicks Award (for the fastest youth team).

Since neither of you had competed in an open water event before, how did you prepare for the Swim? Did you have any fears about swimming in open water instead of a pool?

Alex: I didn’t do much differently – I just tried to get in the water a week prior to the Swim. My first year, my fear was that I would run into a pack of jellyfish! (I didn’t.)

Nick: To prepare, I swam for the Warriors Swim Club in Lakeville, which started about a month after my high school season ended and ran until the end of the school year. I had never swam in open water before, so I wasn’t sure how I would do. I’m always concerned about heading in the correct direction and not going completely off course.

Why do you participate in the Swim, and what do your friends and family think?

Alex: I participate in the Swim because it’s a fun and worthy fundraiser to help clean and maintain the waters of Buzzards Bay. My friends and family support me and the cause by providing donations and helping to spread the word about the event. It really opened my mind to how pollution is everywhere around us, and we need to keep the local environment and water we love clean.

Nick: All of my friends and family are supportive and think it’s great that I participate in the Swim, too. I originally swam because I was asked to, but now I just do it because not only is it fun, but it also keeps me in shape until the next swim season. It’s important to participate because it’s a great accomplishment after you swim it for the first time, and then you get hooked and want to keep doing it. Also, the fundraising is important so that we can keep the Bay clean and continue to have fun events such as the Swim.

Do you have a favorite part of the Swim?

Alex Gallant at 2013 Buzzards Bay Swim

Alex Gallant has placed as the top overall finisher at the Buzzards Bay Swim twice, in 2013 and 2014.

Alex: My favorite part is definitely the atmosphere. The people are always so eager to help the Bay and be participating in the Swim!

Nick: Mine has to be the end of the race, because you get a sense of accomplishment after finishing, and there is breakfast!

You started off as a high school team, but now you’re participating as an adult team. What, if anything, will you be doing differently?

Alex: I won’t be doing anything differently. We are both still doing it for the same cause!

Nick: I don’t think much will change, either. Now that I’m on a college swim team, the training is more rigorous so hopefully I’ll see a faster time than last year. However, as an adult team, we’ll be swimming against faster swimmers! We will also be able to have some of our older friends join our team.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing the Swim, but isn’t sure if they want to?

Alex: It’s definitely worth giving it a shot. I was not sure about doing it my first year, but my teammates convinced me to, and look where I am now! I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Nick: I’d say to them, why not? The Swim is really all about celebrating the fact that the Bay is so clean that you can swim in it. You don’t have to be the fastest swimmer and you can even get an escort by someone in a kayak, so there is absolutely nothing to worry about!

The Buzzards Bay Swim is a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series event, presented nationally by Toyota. The SPLASH Series engages local citizens in recreational use of our waterways to celebrate access to clean water. Event sponsors also include Amica Insurance, YMCA Southcoast, and Fiber Optic Center.

Category: Events

Swim the Bay, Save the Bay

Buzzards Bay Swim

Celebrate clean water at the Coalition's 24th annual Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 24! Join more than 300 others who make a difference to protect clean water in Buzzards Bay. You can swim, volunteer, or cheer on swimmers as they cross outer New Bedford Harbor.

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Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: