Three hundred fifteen swimmers dove into outer New Bedford Harbor early Saturday morning to celebrate clean water in Buzzards Bay during the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s 25th anniversary Buzzards Bay Swim.
As of the start of the event Saturday, swimmers had raised $146,500 to support the nonprofit Coalition’s work to protect clean water, conserve land, and educate youth and adults across the Buzzards Bay region.
“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. “This anniversary has given us a chance to celebrate how far Buzzards Bay has come, while recommitting to finishing the job together.”
Calm, clear waters and bright sunshine greeted swimmers as they gathered on the beach next to the former Davy’s Locker restaurant in New Bedford’s South End. The first wave of swimmers started at 7:20 am and by around 9:20 am the final swimmers had covered the 1.2-mile course and arrived at the finish line at Fort Phoenix Beach State Reservation in Fairhaven.
“This swim is a great mix of doing something good with an event with a real community feel,” said Dana Tatlock of Cranston, Rhode Island, who took home a Six Mile Award this year for completing 5 swims. “Looking back at this going on for 25 years, it has me thinking about how individuals doing small things can have a really big impact.”
The Swim drew participants from 160 communities in 17 states, including as far as away as North Carolina, Texas, and California. Swimmers ranged in age from 12 to 78.
Bill Muldoon of Mattapoisett was the top fundraiser this year, raising $4,010. Courtney Rocha of Westport, who was the top fundraiser among first-time swimmers, raised $3,345, while Rebecca Williams of Rochester raised $3,340. In addition to the top individual fundraisers, “The Immigrants” (Harris Nusbaum of Newton, Manuel Garber of Winchester, Elissa Donnard of Worcester, Alper Kucukural of Cambridge, and Alan Derr of Westford) was the top fundraising team with a total of $5,001.
To help inspire swimmers to increase their fundraising this year, eleven-time swimmer Larry Fish of West Falmouth has issued a challenge: if swimmers raise a collective $157,000, the former chair and CEO of Citizens Financial Group will congratulate them by donating another $50,000 from his Fish Family Foundation. Members of the public who wish to support the Swim and meet this fundraising goal can donate through July 31 at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.
“Buzzards Bay is where I have my home. It’s a beautiful and precious place to me, my family, and so many others,” said Fish. “The Coalition is one of those places where you can be confident that your support is going to have a tangible benefit.”