Teaming up to swim for clean water

Rob Thieler knows Buzzards Bay. In addition to being a coastal geologist, Rob dives into the Bay regularly as a member of the Chappy Swimmers, and he is preparing for his ninth Buzzards Bay Swim with fellow members Meredith Gilson and Joe Hebert.

The Chappy Swimmers—(l-r) Patty Gaynor, Meri Gilson, Joe Hebert, Greg Glavin, Rob Thieler, Keith Glavin, Patty White—gather before the 2016 Buzzards Bay Swim.

Group swim. “The Chappy Swimmers group started in the mid-1990s. A few who started it are still going strong. Others have come and gone over the years. The constant has been our shared passion for the sport of open-water swimming. We have fun together, draw inspiration from each other, and develop a lot of shared experiences, stories, and camaraderie.”

Adventure crawl. “We do group open-water swims on weekends and occasionally during the week at Chapoquoit Beach in Falmouth from mid-May to November. Depending on conditions and tide, we swim a variety of courses, which include West Falmouth Harbor. A couple times per summer, we also do “adventure swims” like Stony Beach to Woods Hole Yacht Club around Penzance Point, Trunk River to Little Harbor around Nobska Point, and Mashnee Island to Monument Beach.”

Seeing the Bay. “In short, we spend a lot of time literally immersed in Buzzards Bay. We understand the seasonal changes in temperature, water quality and clarity, the currents, and much more both daily and over the approximately 25 years the group has swum. (I’ve been at it since ~2004.) This frequent access to all things Buzzards Bay gives us a lot of insight into broader issues of bay health, public access, stewardship, the importance of land and water conservation, and swim safety, particularly in the time of covid. We value these things really highly. We’re passionate about it!”

Why we love the Bay. “We love swimming in Buzzards Bay because it has many fun and challenging places to swim, from open water to harbors, and options to go point-to-point, circumnavigate islands, and just explore.”

In it to swim it. “We are long-time supporters of the Coalition and its mission. Water quality, conservation, and public access are all vitally important to how we enjoy the Bay. And honestly, we also love a good race! The Swim is one of the most fun and best-run events in New England.”

Rob Thieler is the center director of the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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: