Building Bonds Through Swimming

Dave Lapalme will be jumping into outer New Bedford Harbor for the 18th time at the Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 24. He’ll do so along with dozens of teammates from the NBY MASTERS team, a group of swimmers from the New Bedford YMCA.

Dave Lapalme, Peggy Wood, and Sean Sullivan at the 2022 Buzzards Bay Swim.

Swimming in the elements. “I started swimming in the 1980’s training for triathlons. Have taken a few breaks over the years, but have been swimming pretty consistently the last 20 years. Swimming is a great way to stay in shape without having to spend too much time on it. Also a lot less wear and tear on the body than say running is. Open water swimming brings in many more elements than pool swimming. The 2022 Buzzards Bay Swim, for instance, had a wind in the face and choppy conditions. You need a totally different strategy swimming in conditions like that.”

Soaking it in. “The Buzzards Bay Swim is a unique event. It is the only day of the year that you can cross the New Bedford Harbor starting at Cisco Brewers in New Bedford and finishing at Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven. Usually I stop around the lighthouse and just take a look around feeling pretty fortunate to get in another Swim the Bay. The Coalition and their volunteers do a great job at the finish. It is one of the rare exceptions that it is OK to drink beer before noon time!!!”

Teaming up. The idea for creating the NBY MASTERS stemmed from a conversation between Nancy Smith and myself during a ‘Chit Chat’ session at the NBY pool.  Nancy is our “Fearless Leader” and I suggested that she start the team and be the captain. Well she did not like that idea and told me that I would be the captain. So I started the team the next day. We have a great group of people at the NBY and it made sense to start something that we could all be part of.  A second reason to start the NBY MASTERS is to attract former NBY Hurricane teammates and also former local High School swimmers by using this as an annual event to bond and have a few laughs. My daughter Sienna, and son Zac started swimming for the Hurricanes when they were 8 years old and each finished up their careers with 4 years on the Bishop Stang Swim Team. During this time our family was blessed with many great memories and gained many friendships.”

Training with friends. The NBY MASTERS is open to anyone that would like to do the Buzzards Bay Swim. If you are looking for training partners you can find a bunch of us at the NBY. We will have some open water training sessions a few weeks before the event. An annual ritual for the team is to meet the Friday before the event at Cisco Brewers (this year that would be 6/23/23) around 1 pm. I call it a “Scouting Session” for the next day’s Swim. Somehow it usually turns into something a little different than that. Always one of those “Highlight of the Year” days for me.”

Registration is open now for the 30th annual Buzzards Bay Swim on June 24 at

Category: On the Bay

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: