As of the end of the event, swimmers had raised $153,000 to support the nonprofit Coalition’s work to protect clean water, conserve land, and educate youth and adults across the Buzzards Bay region.
“The fight for clean water is a gradual, powerful movement that builds over decades, punctuated by extraordinary opportunities like this one: to swim with over 300 like-minded people who believe in the same cause,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “This anniversary has given us a chance to celebrate how far Buzzards Bay has come, while recommitting to finishing the job together.”
Calm, clear waters and bright sunshine greeted swimmers as they gathered on the beach next to the former Davy’s Locker restaurant in New Bedford’s South End. The first wave of swimmers started at 7:20 a.m., and by around 9:20 a.m. the final swimmers had covered the 1.2-mile course and arrived at the finish line at Fort Phoenix Beach State Reservation in Fairhaven.
“This swim is a great mix of doing something good with an event with a real communal feel,” said Dana Tatlock of Cranston, Rhode Island, who took home a Six-Mile Award this year for completing 5 swims. “Looking back at this going on for 25 years, it has me thinking of how individuals doing small things can have a really big impact.”
The Swim drew participants from 160 communities in 17 states, including as far as away as North Carolina, Texas, and California. Swimmers ranged in age from 12 to 78.
Bill Muldoon of Mattapoisett was the top fundraiser this year, raising $4,010. Courtney Rocha of Westport, who was the top fundraiser among first-time swimmers, raised $3,345, while Rebecca Williams of Rochester raised $3,340. In addition to the top individual fundraisers, “The Immigrants” (Harris Nusbaum of Newton, Manuel Garber of Winchester, Elissa Donnard of Worcester, Alper Kucukural of Cambridge, and Alan Derr of Westford) was the top fundraising team with a total of $5,001.
To help inspire swimmers to increase their fundraising this year, eleven-time swimmer Larry Fish of West Falmouth has issued a challenge: if swimmers raise a collective $157,000, the former chair and CEO of Citizens Financial Group will congratulate them by donating another $50,000 from his Fish Family Foundation. Members of the public who wish to support the Swim and meet this fundraising goal can donate through July 31 at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.
“Buzzards Bay is where I have my home. It’s a beautiful and precious place to me, my family and so many others,” said Fish. “The Coalition is one of those places where you can be confident that your support is going to have a tangible benefit.”
After the Swim, participants, volunteers and supporters enjoyed a finish line beach party with a hot pancake breakfast, complimentary massages, local craft beer by Buzzards Bay Brewing, steel drum music from El Caribe and a live broadcast by Chris “Gazelle” Arsenault of FUN 107. The event concluded with an awards ceremony that honored the top finishers, fundraisers and longtime swimmers.
Joseph Chance of Cambridge was the top finisher, completing the course in 22 minutes and one second. Liam Jordan of Mendon, who was also the first-place finisher for the 11-13 age group, came in second with a time of 24 minutes and 13 seconds. In third place was Paul Henderson of Plymouth with a time of 24 minutes and 15 seconds.
The Wheeler Watershed Challenge Cup for the fastest team went to the “Salty Sea Dogs” (Alex Gallant of Lakeville, Jack Bauer of Cumberland, RI and Jackson Perry of Cumberland) with an average team time of 25 minutes and 41 seconds.
The Quicks Awards for the fastest youth teams went to two combined teams: the New Bedford YMCA Hurricanes and the Wareham Gleeson Family YMCA Riptide Team shared the award for boys and girls ages 11-13, while the MetroWest Aquatics Club received the award for both boys and girls ages 14-18.
“I take great pride in helping the Coalition continue with the important task to save the Bay,” said Gerry Payette of Bristol, R.I., who received the “Pukwudgie Award” for participating in 20 Buzzards Bay Swims. “Enjoying the Swim – living in the moment – is truly what I believe. And helping out a great cause – it’s a win-win situation.”
Two swimmers, Debbie Gabriel of Fairhaven and Peyette, received the “Pukwudgie Award” for completing an incredible twenty Swims. Four swimmers – David Korb of Boston, Marc LaPlante of Acushnet, Doulas Mederios of Fairhaven, and Benjamin Ostiguy of Northhampton – received the “Cuttyhunk Award” for participation in 10 Swims, which is equivalent to swimming the distance between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk Island.
Sixteen swimmers received the “Six Mile Award,” marking five years of participation in the Swim: James Balfour of Durham, ME, Peter Carson of Jamestown, RI, Madison Carvalho of Fairhaven, Robert Fallon of West Falmouth, Manuel Garber of Winchester, Jefferson Hunter of Florence, Maureen Nolan of Falmouth, Eric Pauls, Sr. of Westport, Lorena Pugh of North Kingstown, RI, James Shea of Longmeadow, Dana Tatlock of Cranston, RI, Andrea Tishman of Waban, Shari Tishman of West Newton, Michael Walsh of Fall River, Maureen Wieler of Pocasset, and Juliet D. Xifaras of Mattapoisett.
The Buzzards Bay Swim is one of two signature outdoor events hosted by the Coalition. The other is the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride, a one-day bicycle ride with 100-mile, 75-mile and 35-mile routes from Little Compton, R.I. to Woods Hole, Mass. The 12th annual Watershed Ride will take place Sunday, Sept. 30. Details and registration are available at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/ride.
The Buzzards Bay Swim is once again part of the Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Event Series. The Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Buzzards Bay Swim, to benefit Buzzards Baykeeper, is also sponsored by Amica Insurance, Buzzards Bay Brewing, Citizens Commercial Banking, Fiber Optic Center, South Coast Almanac and YMCA Southcoast. For more information on the SPLASH Event Series, presented nationally by Toyota, please visit www.splashseries.org.