Fifty swimmers dove into New Bedford Harbor and raised more than $122,000 for clean water

Fifty swimmers dove into outer New Bedford Harbor early Saturday morning on June 26, 2021, to celebrate clean and healthy water in Buzzards Bay during a special post-pandemic version of the annual Buzzards Bay Swim.

The thrill of being back in the swim brightened up the otherwise cloudy morning with enthusiasm. Swimmers gathered on the beach next to the new Cisco Kitchen and Bar in New Bedford’s South End. The first wave of swimmers started at 7:15 a.m., and by 8:30 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.

“I love everything about swimming!” said Nancy Smith, 81, of Dartmouth, who completed her 20th Swim this year. “As I’ve gotten older, my focus has been more and more on making sure that other people will be able to get in and enjoy the ocean.”

See more photos from the event on our Flickr album.

20-year “Pukwudgie Award” winners Jack Leary and Nancy Smith.

Together, swimmers raised $122,251 and counting to support the Coalition’s work to protect clean water, conserve land and educate youth and adults across the Buzzards Bay region. Supporters can donate to the Swim at until July 31 to pay tribute to the dedicated swimmers who participated in this year’s event.

“It was a great swim today. The water temperature was good, there was very little wind and the water was nice and clean in New Bedford Harbor, thanks to the Buzzards Bay Coalition.” said William Muldoon, 71, of Mattapoisett, participating in his eighth Swim. “This is important to me because it’s about keeping the Bay clean for the next generation.”

The fastest swimmers: Carlyn Soares and Justin Nyweide.

The Swim drew participants from more than 30 communities in nine states, including as far as away as Missouri and Washington. Swimmers ranged in age from 16 to 81. Typically, the Swim draws up to 300 participants; this year’s field was limited to 50 people, through invitations to past Buzzards Bay swimmers.

Kaitlin Ibara flew in from Chicago to participate in the swim with her best friend and fellow Bishop Stang High School swim team member Samantha LeBeau of Warren, RI. “We knew this was coming up and we’ve been checking in on each other by phone to stay motivated for training,” Ibara said. LeBeau, who is eight months pregnant, added, “It was so nice to be invited to participate, there was no way we could say ‘No.’”

Steve Johnson of Westport was the top fundraiser, raising $11,140. Smith raised $5,400 and Robert Fallon of West Falmouth and Michael Nelson of Cambridge each raised $5,000.

“When it comes to the Buzzards Bay Swim, I try to treat it as just another swim, but when I get here it’s anything but. It has such a great feeling as a community event,” Johnson said. “I’m amazed and pleased by this year’s fundraising. I give credit, straight-up, to the generosity of my friends and neighbors. I’m very grateful to my group for the support.”

After the Swim, participants, volunteers and supporters enjoyed a finish line beach party with a hot pancake breakfast, 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.

Carlyn Soares, 23, of Boston was the top overall finisher, completing the course in 22:54.2. Justin Nyweide, 41, of Wellesley was the top male finisher with a time of 23:22.8.

Topping the participation awards were Nancy Smith and Jack Leary, 61, of Mystic, Conn., who earned the Pukwudgie Award” for their 20th swim.

Two swimmers earned the “Cuttyhunk Award” for participation in 10 Swims―Steve Johnson and Alan Harris. Four swimmers earned the “Six Mile Award,” marking five years of participation in the Swim: Ibara; Lebeau; Elizabeth Krane of St. Louis, Mo; and Marianne Buchinskas of New York, NY, and Falmouth.

The full list of results and photos from the 2021 Buzzards Bay Swim can be found on the event website.

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 scenic bicycle ride with 100-mile, 75-mile and 35-mile routes from Little Compton, R.I. to Woods Hole, Mass. The 13th annual Watershed Ride will take place Sunday, October 3. Details and registration are available at

The Buzzards Bay Swim is sponsored by BayCoast Bank, BETA Group, Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms, Amica, Bristol County Savings Bank, Buzzards Bay Brewing, Cisco Kitchen and Bar, and Fiber Optic Center.

Categories: Events, 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: