Twenty-five years ago, a visionary group of local residents had a big idea: to swim 1.2 miles across outer New Bedford Harbor to raise awareness and funds for clean water in Buzzards Bay. That year, 17 swimmers raised $2,000 at the very first Buzzards Bay Swim, hosted by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.
Pembroke resident and New Bedford native Dan Vasconcellos was one of those first swimmers. Back then, he remembers, the water in the outer harbor wasn’t as clear as it is today. “You might have been able to see your hand in front of you. Now, the conditions are unbelievable.”
Since that first Buzzards Bay Swim in 1994, the event has grown to attract more than 300 swimmers from communities across New England and beyond to the shores of New Bedford and Fairhaven each June. This year, you can be part of the Swim’s storied history by signing up for the 25th Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 30 at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.
“The fight for clean water is a gradual, powerful movement that builds over decades, punctuated by extraordinary opportunities like this one: to swim with over 300 like-minded people who believe in the same cause,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen, who will complete his fifth Swim in June. “This anniversary gives us a chance to celebrate how far Buzzards Bay has come while recommitting to finishing the job together.”
The Swim is an exciting outdoor experience that welcomes swimmers of all abilities and fitness levels ages 11 and up. Swimmers complete a scenic 1.2-mile point-to-point open-water course from New Bedford’s South End, past the iconic Butler Flats Lighthouse and New Bedford Hurricane Barrier. First-time and beginner swimmers can swim with a personal kayak or paddleboard escort for safety.
At the celebratory finish line at Fort Phoenix State Reservation in Fairhaven, swimmers and their guests are welcomed with a beach party featuring a live steel drum band, pancakes cooked to order, gourmet coffee, free massages, local craft beer and awards and prizes.
Local swim coach Brett Pacheco has completed the Swim 10 times. “As a lifelong New Bedford resident, being able to swim in the water here on a yearly basis is fantastic,” he said. “To see the Swim grow from 50 or 60 people to over 300 people every year is amazing. It’s a pleasure to be a part of, and I would encourage other people to give it a try!”
Last year, swimmers raised $135,000 for clean water in Buzzards Bay. For the 25th anniversary Swim, the bar is set higher than ever: swimmers will work to raise $150,000, which will earn the Coalition a $50,000 matching grant from the Fish Family Foundation. All funds raised support the Coalition’s work to restore and protect the Bay from threats such as nitrogen pollution, oil spills and disappearing forests, streams and wetlands.
Don’t miss your chance to swim for clean water at the 25th anniversary Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 30. Sign up today at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.