St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound Marathon 2017 

 

On Saturday, August 5th, over 150 swimmers and more than 200 boat and swim volunteers participated in the 2017 St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound. This was one of the most challenging years in the SWIM's history and to quote Matthew Webb, the first recorded person to swim the English Channel, "Nothing great is easy". On Thursday, with the Saturday's weather forecast, the Committee prepared both the swimmers and boat captains for the possible cancellation of the SWIM. At 2:00 pm Friday, with the forecast improving but still very iffy, the decision was made to go forward as planned. We are very grateful to our volunteer boat captains who journeyed across on Friday and Saturday.

The 6:00 am ferry carrying the swimmers was filled with excitement and anticipation as the torrential rains pounded on its steel hull. I do not think I have ever had so many swimmers on the ferry crossing tell me about their fundraising success, especially the first year swimmers. Our mantra of "Hope" was evident as not one swimmer asked if the SWIM would be cancelled. The rain and thunderstorms were forecasted to clear at 10:00 am. Upon arrival at Port Jefferson, the SWIM Committee huddled, reworked logistics, and made the decision to delay the start by approximately 45 minutes.

The 30th Annual of the SWIM consisted of 8 Solo swimmers, 2 Two-person relays, 1 Never Alone relay, 6 Classic (non-wetsuit) team relays, 13 Traditional (wetsuit) team relays, and 4 Corporate team relays.

At 9:05 am, the solo swimmers in the 1st wave left the beach under cloudy skies and less than a 1.5' wave height. By the time the 3rd wave left the beach close to 10:30 am, the sun was starting to break through the clouds. For most of the day, conditions seemed almost perfect with the exception of the wind which pushed the swimmers to the east. The boat captains and swimmers had to work harder (and swim longer) to keep within the perimeter and on course. At around 4:30 pm, the combination of the currents, due to the changing tide and wind strengthening just enough, swimmers hit a wall and few swimmers made forward progress. By 5:30 pm, with the current and wind going in the same direction, swimmers that were pushed to the east could not overtake the tide though Buoy 2A and Black Rock Harbor were in sight. Only eighteen of the thirty-four escort boats completed the entire swim.

The King Wrats in the Traditional category (though they swam without wetsuits) led the field and finished first in a time of 6:42. Water Rats Swim Team were 2nd overall with a time of 7:14 and 1st in the Classic category. Red Tide (7:26) was 3rd place overall and 2nd in the Classic category. Water Rats Swimming (7:31) was 4th place overall and 2nd in the Traditional category. Team Marco Polo (7:34) was 5th place overall and 3rd in the Traditional category.

The Solo category had three finishers. Marcia Cleveland (Illinois) was the first solo swimmer with a time of 9:25. Arthur Coleman (NY) was 2nd place with a time of 10:46. Mariel Hawley (Mexico City, Mexico) was 3rd solo swimmer overall, touching the dock in the time of 11:00. The other 2017 solo swimmers include Thomas Bell, Chip Bruchac (70 years old!), Herve Hamon, Samuel Stein, and John Waanders were amazing and inspirational in a day described as "harder than the English Channel" by many that have swum it.

Hornets was the 1st finisher in the Two-person relay category, touching the dock in a time of 9:00. Being of Sound Mind finished in 2nd place in 9:33. These teams swam the entire Sound with just two swimmers, without wetsuits and only 1/2 hour rest between legs.

Wave of Support is the first team in the Never Alone category to complete the SWIM. Their time of 8:59 is the category record. The team of six rotated in as pairs, representing that you are "Never Alone" when battling cancer.

Sink or Swim finished in a time of 9:15 in the Corporate Challenge category and was the only team to officially finish in the category. The three other teams, Code Blue Fish, Trumbull Emergency Medical Swimmers, and Bullsharks swam longer than previous SWIM years and continue to gain experience.

In addition to Water Rats Swim Team and Red Tide, other finishers in the Classic relay category include Fairfield Stags'12 (9:05) and Fairfield YMCA (9:07). Just Keep Swimming and Team D'addario (a first year team) hit the wall and could not break through. They had to be moved up and finished unofficially.

Following King Wrats, Water Rats Swimming and Team Marco Polo, Power Rangers (8:01) was the 4th in the Traditional category. Pisces Strong (8:54), Pisces Pride (9:07) and Survivors (9:56) were the other official teams in the Traditional category. Several Traditional teams were close to Buoy 2A and still swimming strong but would not finish in daylight. Starting at 6:30 pm, SWIM officials moved Colony Hot Oilers, Barbara's Bunch, and Fairfield Prep Jesuits to the entrance of Black Rock Harbor to finish. Team KSea and Seas the Day and first-year team, Snappers, finish the SWIM unofficially after missing two milestones, gain valuable experience for next year.

The Results for the 2017 SWIM includes the amount of time the solo swimmer or team was officially swimming. An asterisk (*) indicates that the swimmer or team did not complete the entire course.

The "Dream of Life" award was presented to Elizabeth "Bethamy" Aronow for her commitment and dedication to the SWIM Across the Sound. Bethamy has participated in the SWIM for the 15 years and every year introduces new swimmers to the SWIM family.

We are extremely grateful to the boat captains, their crews and kayakers who volunteered for the SWIM. I especially would like to thank our SWIM Safety Officer Joe Savino, Bridgeport Harbormaster Ryan Conrad, Medical Officer Aimee Roberts, the SWIM Committee members (Doug, Mike, Jim, Bill, Gib, and Paula), all our SWIM officials, observers, medical support, and Captain's Cove volunteers, drone volunteer Peter Sauer, the Foundation staff, and the many others who have committed their time to this special event. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this event year after year.

On a personal note, no words can properly express the gratitude and love I have for Diane Cardoso and Joe Savino who are retiring from the SWIM this year. The SWIM is what it is today because of their passion and dedication to make this an extraordinary and safe event. They have been a blessing to me in so many ways and I am so thankful for their never-ending support and guidance. Diane and Joe have both promised they will be back next year as volunteers.

Full results for the 2017 SWIM Across the Sound are linked to the top of the Marathon home page at give.stvincents.org/marathon2017. Mark your calendars for next year’s marathon which will be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018.

With gratitude and admiration for you all,

Liz Fry

SWIM Marathon Director