(From the Buzzards Bay Coalition)

The Buzzards Bay Coalition’s 24th annual Buzzards Bay Swim was cancelled this morning due to unsafe weather conditions as the stormy remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy passed over Buzzards Bay. But that didn’t stop more than 350 dedicated swimmers from raising $130,000 for clean water at this signature outdoor fundraising event.

The Coalition and safety personnel from the Massachusetts Environmental Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and the New Bedford and Fairhaven police, fire and harbormaster departments surveyed the weather forecast for the 1.2-mile open-water course across outer New Bedford Harbor this morning and deemed conditions unsafe for swimmers and boaters.

Greg Desrosiers/TSM
File photo / Greg Desrosiers/TSM

“We know how disappointing it is to cancel this event, especially after hundreds of swimmers have worked so hard to train and fundraise – but the safety of swimmers and kayakers comes first,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “With the threat of thunderstorms and lightning, it was best to keep everybody out of the water.”

It was only the second cancellation in the Swim’s 24-year history. The first, in 1999, was also due to unsafe weather conditions. Although the on-the-water activities were called off, swimmers still gathered at Fort Phoenix State Reservation to celebrate their fundraising accomplishments with breakfast, local craft beer, a live steel drum band, free massages and an awards ceremony.

The Swim drew 353 registrants from 21 states, including as far as away as Alaska, Washington and North Carolina, as well as Canada. The youngest swimmer was Emma Whittaker of Rochester, who turns 11 this weekend, while the oldest was 77-year-old Nancy Smith of Dartmouth, who has participated in 18 Buzzards Bay Swims.

As of today, swimmers have raised $130,000 to support the nonprofit Coalition’s work to protect clean water, conserve land and engage people in outdoor exploration across the Buzzards Bay region from Little Compton, R.I. to Woods Hole, Mass.

If swimmers raise a total of $135,000, 10-time Buzzards Bay Swim participant Larry Fish of West Falmouth has pledged to donate an additional $25,000 from his Fish Family Foundation. Members of the public who wish to support the Swim and meet this fundraising goal can donate until July 8 atwww.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.

Bill Muldoon of Mattapoisett was the top fundraiser this year, raising $4,005. Rebecca Williams of Rochester raised $3,121, while Dan Vasconcellos of Pembroke raised $2,775 in memory of his father, Arthur. Wynn Perlick of Westport was the top fundraiser for a new swimmer, raising $2,900. In addition to the top individual fundraisers, the Red Dory Restaurant of Tiverton, R.I. was the top fundraising team with a total of $11,600 – the most any team has ever fundraised for the Swim.

Dan Vasconcellos also received the first-ever “Pukwudgie Award,” given to swimmers who have participated in 20 Buzzards Bay Swims. Pukwudgies are figures from native Wampanoag folklore known for making mischief along the shores of Buzzards Bay.

Three swimmers – Lea Anthony of New Bedford, Martha Arruda of Fall River and Larry Fish of West Falmouth – received the “Cuttyhunk Award” for participation in 10 Swims, which is equivalent to swimming the distance between New Bedford and Cuttyhunk Island.

Fourteen swimmers received the Six Mile Award, marking five years of participation in the Swim: Mark Alexander of Jamaica Plain, Rebecca Belastock of Falmouth, Halle Berger of Acushnet, Jonathan Berger of Acushnet, George Borden of New Bedford, Robert Butters of Waltham, Peter Carson of Jamestown, R.I., James Knowles of Southborough, Patricia McGovern of New York, N.Y., Jonah Mikutowicz of Dartmouth, Bill Muldoon of Mattapoisett, Chad Nusbaum of Newton, Eric Pauls, Jr. of Westport and Ruth Tannert of Roslindale.



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