Despite her affinity for the sea, Rosie grew up in the landlocked state of Pennsylvania, where she taught herself to swim in her backyard pool. It wasn’t until she met and married her husband Devin – owner of Destination Soups, a popular eatery in downtown New Bedford – that Rosie truly found her way to the ocean here on Buzzards Bay.
In 2011, a pregnant Rosie attended the Buzzards Bay Swim for the first time, but not as a participant. Her friend Lynne was swimming the 1.2-mile course, and Rosie was there to cheer her on. Two years later, remembering how inspired she felt watching Lynne swim into the finish line at Fort Phoenix, Rosie decided to attempt the crossing herself.
Rosie received lots of encouragement from her fellow teachers at Hastings Middle School in Fairhaven, several of whom also participate in the Swim. However, not everyone who heard about Rosie’s endeavor was as enthusiastic. “When I first told people that I was swimming the Bay, some people said, ‘You’re crazy – I could never do that!’” But their disbelief only fueled her pride.
Because she had never swum competitively, Rosie she knew she had a lot of work to do in the coming months to prepare. She joined the New Bedford YMCA and began to swim once a week, eager to take on the full 44-lap distance that would make her ready for the 1.2-mile Swim course. But after 12 laps at her very first practice, Rosie was exhausted – more like a fish out of water than a mermaid.
She was not easily discouraged. With weekly practice, she was swimming a full mile – 33 laps – with ease after two months. “The repetitive action back and forth allowed my brain the time to decompress while my muscles stretched and rose to the occasion.” By the time June rolled around, Rosie felt like a pro, swimming 44 laps effortlessly.
But swimming in open water was another story. When Rosie first practiced swimming at the beach in the South End of New Bedford, where the Swim course begins, things didn’t quite go according to plan. “I suddenly forgot how to swim altogether! There were waves to contend with, and the water wasn’t crystal clear with a line down the middle.”
She encouraged herself to calm down and remember why she wanted to swim in the first place. “When you just let go, swimming in the ocean is the most natural, freeing thing in the world,” she says. With this in mind, Rosie put her head down, finished her first open-water practice swim, and began to look forward to the big day with confidence.
On the day of the Swim, Rosie waded into the water with 300 other participants, welcomed by the calm, salty waves of Buzzards Bay. “It was a magnificent morning, a thousand sparkles on the water. A very good friend of mine looked at me and said, ‘Remember, just keep swimming.’ – and we did. We swam our hearts out and made it to the other side.”
The Buzzards Bay Swim is a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series event, presented nationally by Toyota. The SPLASH Series engages local citizens in recreational use of our waterways to celebrate access to clean water. Event sponsors also include Amica Insurance, Anderson Insulation, YMCA Southcoast, and Fiber Optic Center.