Committed to clean water: Why this biologist returns year after year to the Buzzards Bay Swim

Every year since his first Buzzards Bay Swim, biologist and swimmer Harris “Chad” Nusbaum has looked forward to the moment in the Swim when he can see the world from a new perspective. “The best part of all is probably when I look around and realize I’m a half mile away from land in every direction,” Chad says. “That kind of thing gives a sense of how immense the sea is, and can keep one humble. Just getting to swim across a bit of the Bay is a victory to celebrate.”

Swimmers hugging after the 2018 Swim

Chad Nusbaum and a teammate after completing the 2018 Buzzards Bay Swim.

Chad completed his first Swim in 2012. He loved the event so much that he recruited his friend Manuel Garber to join him. Since then, Chad and Manuel have swum together each year, each trying to out-fundraise the other. They first raised $1,000 each, then climbed toward $2,000 each annually.

In 2017, Manuel amplified their efforts by forming a team called The Immigrants with his UMass Medical School colleagues. The team grew from three members in its first year to six members in 2018. The growth paid off as The Immigrants took home the event’s Top Fundraising Team prize, raising an outstanding $5,001 for clean water in one triumphant swim.

To both men, the Swim has become a tradition and a personal passion. “I typically do a few open water swims each season, but [the Buzzards Bay Swim] is the one I feel most committed to and the only one I do fundraising for,” Chad explains. “Being an open water swimmer has made me acutely aware of clean water, and I believe that all living things deserve clean water to drink or live in. It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that clean water is fundamental to life.”

The Immigrants team at the 2018 Swim

“The Immigrants” took home the prize for top fundraising team by raising $5,001 for the 2018 Buzzards Bay Swim.

Chad and The Immigrants will return to the Buzzards Bay Swim this year for another amazing swim across New Bedford Harbor. After a stellar 25th anniversary Swim in 2018, featuring perfect conditions and record-breaking participation, the Buzzards Bay Swim is poised to grow even bigger and better than ever when the start gun fires at the 26th annual open water event on Saturday, June 22.

That success is thanks to the help of people like you – swimmers, volunteers, and supporters who’ve helped the Swim grow from its modest beginnings to the 300+ participant event of today. You can be part of the Swim by signing up or making a donation now at

Longtime swimmer and West Falmouth resident Larry Fish had a vision for this growth when he issued a generous challenge grant through his Fish Family Foundation. Now entering year three of a four-year program, the Fish Challenge will earn the Coalition an additional $50,000 if 380 swimmers register and raise $187,000 this year. It’s yet another reason to sign up for or donate to this amazing event!

What does Chad say to those thinking about making a splash in their first Buzzards Bay Swim? “It’s fun, it’s much easier than it looks, the crowd is very supportive and you will feel great afterwards both about completing the swim and about supporting clean water.”

You can help the Coalition earn $50,000 by joining Chad, The Immigrants, and hundreds of other swimmers at the 26th annual Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 22:

  • Sign up today! If you can swim for 40-50 minutes continuously at a comfortable pace, then you can swim the 1.2 miles across outer New Bedford Harbor. Fins, wetsuits, and personal kayakers are all permitted for those aged 11 and up. If you’re not a swimmer, you can help by sharing this story to recruit your friends and family members.
  • Donate to a swimmer or the event today. Every dollar truly counts to help reach the $187,000 goal.

The Buzzards Bay Swim is a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series event, presented nationally by Toyota. For more information on the SPLASH Event Series, please visit The Swim is also sponsored by Amica Insurance, Anderson InsulationBayCoast Bank, Bristol County Savings Bank, Buzzards Bay BrewingCommon Sense Environmental, Fiber Optic Center, Southcoast Almanac, and YMCA Southcoast. To inquire about sponsoring the Swim, contact

Categories: Events, On the Bay

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Swim the Bay, Save the Bay

Buzzards Bay Swim

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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: