Celebrating 25 years of the Buzzards Bay Swim: Help secure $200,000 for clean water through the Fish Family Foundation Challenge

In 1994, a visionary group of conservationists had the idea of swimming across outer New Bedford Harbor to raise funds and awareness for clean water in Buzzards Bay. That year, 17 swimmers raised $2,000 at the first Buzzards Bay Swim. With your help, this year the Swim will raise more than $200,000 through a generous matching challenge grant.

Larry Fish with his wife Atsuko on Buzzards Bay

“The Buzzards Bay Coalition is one of those places where you can be confident that your support is going to have a tangible benefit,” said Fish, pictured with wife Atsuko on Buzzards Bay. “I believe it is one of the best run, most effective environmental organizations in the entire Northeast.”

Over time, the Swim has grown in popularity. In 2008, the event swelled to 100 swimmers, and by 2010, the Swim was raising more than $50,000 each year.

Around that time, a passionate open-water swimmer and West Falmouth resident named Larry Fish attended the Swim. Fish – the former chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group – instantly saw the power and potential of the event.

“When the Buzzards Bay Swim first began, it was a fledgling effort with modest participation. However, it was a great cause and a wonderful swim,” Fish said. “I immediately felt the potential to make it a bigger event and contributor to the Coalition’s overall mission.”

Fish took action, creating a three-year, $75,000 challenge grant from his Fish Family Foundation that propelled the Swim to reach an all-time high of 262 swimmers in 2013. But even with this rapid growth, the Swim has not yet reached its full potential.

Why is it important for the Swim to continue to grow? Events like the Swim are critical to our mission of protecting and restoring clean water in Buzzards Bay. As part of the Swim, members and supporters like you fundraise in a fun and dynamic outdoor setting that showcases the importance of this mission. As Fish says, the Swim “shouts out about the recovery work the Coalition has done over many years in cleaning up the Bay.” When swimmers share their personal stories about why they care about the Bay, they invite hundreds of new people into the conversation every year.

Our goal is to fill the course to capacity – that’s 400 swimmers – and raise more than $200,000 every year by 2020. To help us get there, Larry Fish has issued another multi-year challenge that will ultimately bring $200,000 in matching funds from the Fish Family Foundation – but only if we achieve these goals. We did it last year, earning the first portion of this generous matching grant.

This year, for the Swim’s historic 25th anniversary, we’re aiming to welcome a record-breaking 360 registered swimmers and raise more than $157,000. If we do, the Fish Family Foundation will congratulate us with an additional $50,000.

We’re well on our way to meeting these goals – but we need your help. Here are two ways you can support the 25th anniversary Buzzards Bay Swim:

  • Register for the Buzzards Bay Swim (or encourage a friend to!): If you can swim for 40-50 minutes continuously at a comfortable pace – or train to do so by June – then you can swim in this exciting event. If you’re not a swimmer, share this story to recruit friends and family who like to swim. If 100 people brought in just one new person, we’d meet our goal!
  • Donate to a swimmer today. Make a surprise donation to one of the top 100 swimmers – it will encourage them to keep working hard to fundraise. Or you can make a general donation to the Swim. Every dollar truly counts to help reach our goal.

Fish will be swimming in his 11th consecutive Buzzards Bay Swim this year. “Buzzards Bay is where I have my home,” he says. “It’s a beautiful and precious place to me, my family, and so many others.”

Thank you to Larry Fish and the Fish Family Foundation for their generosity and for believing in the Buzzards Bay Swim. If you’d like to help, have a question, or want to share an idea, please contact Event Manager Deb Hood at (508) 999-6363 x207.

Category: Events

Swim the Bay, Save the Bay

Buzzards Bay Swim

Celebrate clean water at the Coalition's 31st annual Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 22, 2024! Join more than 400 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: