ocean

12th Annual Swim & Fin Race for Salem Sound Goes Swimmingly

Contributed by Megan Podeszwa, Salem Sound Coastwatch

SALEM, MA -- The 12th Annual Swim & Fin Race for Salem Sound went off without a hitch on August 20. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning to send nearly 150 swimmers into the clean, swimmable waters of Salem Sound!

Swimmers ranged in age from 11-74 and competed 500 meter, 1 mile and 5K races. We had so much great talent join us and swimmers of all abilities. It was a great race to watch!

On land, spectators had great views of the course as well as a DJ, raffle, kids coloring table, and touch tank! Swimmers received their choice of clam chowder or meatballs after the race and others had the option to purchase food. There was also plenty of coffee and baked goods to go around!

The energy of the crowd was great as swimmers went in and came out of the water. Swimmers received ocean-themed awards by age group as well as wetsuit and non-wetsuits. First place was a scallop shell, second was a surf clam shell, and third was a quahog shell. The fastest male and female in each race received large scallop shells. 

Robert Kysela (Portland, ME) of Maine Masters (MESC) won the men's 5k race, followed by Christopher Borgatti (Byfield, MA, Unattached) and Chris Waldman (Portland, ME). Emily Dobrindt (Milton, MA) was the women's 5k champion with Rachel Saks Aronis (Natick, MA) taking second and Tsveta Stanilova (Portland, ME, MESC) finishing third. At the 1-mile distance, Benjamin Czech (Providence, RI), Joe Wang (Framingham, MA), and Richy Puopolo (East Boston, MA) were the top three men. Lyndsay Martin (New York, NY), Kaelyn Patch (Brentwood, NH), and Fiona Price (Northborough, MA) took podium spots in the women's race.

A great day was had by all and for a great cause. It was amazing to see so many people caring about our local environment and what better way to show how much you care about clean water.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support Salem Sound Coastwatch!

39th Annual Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim Draws Swimmers from Near and Far

Contributed by Guy Davis, GBM, NE LMSC Vice-Chair

NE LMSC Treasurer and ANA swimmer Al Prescott

Charles River Masters swimmers David Bentley and Andrea Sonan

GLOUCESTER, MA -- Now in its 39th year, the New England Open Water Swimming Association's ever popular Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim was held on August 19th. The swim follows a 1.2 mile rectangular course out and back from Niles Beach, a sheltered cove on the north side of Gloucester Harbor. The event now includes a 500m youth swim, an introduction for 8-12 year old swimmers to the fun and challenge of open water racing. Although more overcast than the usual perfect summer sunshine that this event typically enjoys, the conditions were perfect for racing with comfortable water temperatures and very little breeze or chop. North Shore and Boston area swimmers dominated the nearly 90 entries, including longtime former race director Richie Martin in the largest and most competitive division of Men 60-69 years. There were also participants from all over New England and from as far afield as Illinois. 

This year's non-wetsuit overall winners were Kaitlin Pratt (Wakefield, MA) and Graham Lott (Gloucester, MA). Wetsuit overall winners were Hannah Perkins (Beverly, MA) and, for the third consecutive year, Ethan Saulnier (Salem, MA). Kaitlin and Hannah are both 13 years old, and Hannah is a former winner of the youth swim. Overall winners received Megalodon teeth and division winners received shark teeth as prizes. Many thanks to race director Dave Swensen and his team, volunteers, and sponsors for the professional management, a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere, competitive racing and the coolest prizes.

Maine Swimmers Dominate at Nubble Light Challenge Revival

Contributed by Guy Davis, GBM & NE LMSC Vice-Chair

YORK, ME -- Southern Maine's popular Nubble Light Challenge open water race made its triumphant return on August 12 after a three year hiatus. The picturesque two and a half mile course takes swimmers from York's Long Sands beach around the rocky Cape Neddick headland, through “the Gut” - the narrow passage of water that separates Nubble Island from the mainland, and on to finish at Short Sands beach. Weather conditions were very favorable, with water temperatures in the low 60s, light winds, and a moderate swell. Nevertheless, the swim's long stretches of open ocean and unpredictable tidal currents around the headland most certainly warrant the race's moniker. The warmly cheering crowds on the rocks overlooking the Gut and at the finish provided great encouragement to the swimmers.

Maine Masters swimmers dominated this year's event with wetsuit winners Cheryl Daly and Justin Burkhardt and non-wetsuit winners Susan Knight and Simon Wignall. Congratulations to all who swam and completed the Nubble Light Challenge!

The race is a fundraiser for the great work of the Maine chapter of NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) whose programs enhance the lives of any one impacted by mental illness through support, education and advocacy.

Great Bay Masters swimmers at the Nubble Light Challenge

Big thank yous go to Bob Reed, Bob Fernald, and Jen Zorn for their great work reviving and organizing this terrific event and to the many wonderful volunteers and sponsors who contributed to the fantastic atmosphere and very enjoyable event.

Race website

Fundraising page

Race Facebook page

NAMI Maine website

Photos by Tracy Phillips Photography via Nubble Light Challenge Facebook page

Event Spotlight: 12th Annual Swim & Fin Race for Salem Sound

Contributed by Charlotte Brynn, NELMSC Open Water Chair, USMS National Open Water Committee, Level 4 USMS Coach, and Executive Director of The Swimming Hole

Enjoy clam chowder, clam shell awards, and a dazzling view of the water. -Megan Podeszwa

This month we are spotlighting an open water event: The 12th Annual Swim & Fin for Salem Sound, which will be held on August 20 in Salem, MA. I was impressed by its family-friendly appeal, and that it benefits efforts to make our coastal waters clean and safe. I reached out to Megan Podeszwa, Race Director, and Susan Yochelson, Salem Sound Coastwatch Outreach Coordinator, to learn about the swim's history, and what makes it a stand-out event. After hearing their answers, I've definitely added it to my list to swim in the future!

Two of last year's Swim & Fin winners

Q: The 12th Annual Swim & Fin includes a 500 meter course, 1 mile and a 5 km option. What are some of the reasons that this is such a good event for novices to try their first open water event?

A: The Swim & Fin is a well-established event with an excellent safety record. The 500-meter has been called the "get wet, fun swim." It's a short course--less than one third of a mile, equivalent to five laps in an Olympic pool. We have considerable safety support with lifeguards and kayakers keeping a close eye on the swimmers. The harbormaster is right there if anyone needs to be rescued. 

Q: It looks like you have fun activities set up at the beach. What are some of the fun things swimmers and their families can enjoy on race day?

A: The Swim & Fin is held in a beautiful wooded park with dazzling views of the water. It's a perfect spot for a family picnic. There's a playground for young kids, two beaches and a steep old-fashioned concrete slide that has been thrilling children and adults since 1943. (It's the only one in New England and cardboard is a must for this slide!) We have food, music, a marine touch tank with local sea creatures, raffles and some activities for kids. Swimmers will have access to a changing room and outdoor shower, and will be treated to fresh clam chowder donated by Finz--a fabulous local seafood restaurant. The awards are uniquely ocean-themed-- no regular medals for us! With its rich history and cultural attractions, Salem is a great place to visit. There are shops, museums, including the world-class Peabody Essex Museum, the National Park Service's Salem Maritime Historic Site, wonderful restaurants, and more for every age group.

Q: How did the Swim & Fin get established 12 years ago?

A: The Swim & Fin was started by a neurosurgeon. Seriously. Twelve years ago, Dr. Michael Medlock walked into the Salem Sound Coastwatch offices with the proposition that we should hold open water swimming races. Dr. Medlock grew up swimming in Florida and in New England he loves Salem Sound with its beautiful coast, beaches, vibrant marine life, and charming islands that frame the view. He thought it would be a great way to highlight our clean swimmable water and connect people to the Sound. We liked the idea, especially since encouraging recreational use of these coastal waters is one of our core values. Dr. Medlock created the event and continued as Race Director for 10 years. In the beginning, swim fins were allowed, hence the name. That feature has since been dropped and now the name stands more for swimming with the fishes.

Q: Volunteers make our swim events special. Who are some of the people that help put on the race?

A: Volunteers are the life-blood of Salem Sound Coastwatch's activities, including the Swim & Fin. We have professional lifeguards who donate their time, experienced kayakers who patrol the course, medical professionals who provide first aid, and people of all walks of life who direct the cars, put out signs, handle registration and body marking, and coordinate swimmer safety. We also have many sponsors and donors. Finz, a famous local seafood restaurant, donates clam chowder for the swimmers; a local shellfish company donates clam and scallop shells that we paint gold, silver and bronze for medals, and many local companies support this event. The thing they all share in common is a love of our coastal waters.

Q: This race is for a great cause! The swim benefits the Salem Sound Coastwatch, working to make our coastal waters clean and safe. Cleaner coastal waters is a cause especially close to open water swimmers' hearts. Can you tell us a little about what Salem Coastwatch does?

A: We do so many things! Salem Sound Coastwatch is a nonprofit environmental organization. Our motto is "leading the way to a healthier sea and shore." Our flagship program is called Clean Beaches and Streams, where we test water at outfall pipes and streams that flow on to the beaches in order to identify pollution "hot spots." This information is shared with the local communities in our watershed and with the State of Massachusetts. Our work has actually uncovered homes and businesses that were not connected to the sanitary sewer system. Waste from these buildings was flowing directly into the Sound! 

Our work generally falls into three categories-identifying sources of pollution and developing solutions, monitoring and protecting marine resources and habitats, and educating the public. We have a large and active Adopt a Beach program in which volunteers are trained to monitor and clean up their favorite beach. "School to Sea" is our exciting ocean literacy program in which we work with both students and teachers to develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, the ocean in their backyard. This past year we took hundreds of students, including every 3rd and 7th grader in the City of Salem, on educational boat trips where they got to observe sea life with an underwater camera, conduct a plankton tow and hold lobsters and other marine life pulled from a lobster pot. We partner with local communities, academic researchers, other nonprofit organizations, businesses and citizens to address issues such as flooding (a serious source of pollution), building resilience to protect the coast from storms and sea level rise, monitoring invasive marine species, and raising citizens' awareness and understanding of their connection to the water and their role in restoring and protecting its health. Salem Sound Coastwatch is widely recognized throughout the region for the quality of our work, and we have received numerous awards since the organization was formed over 25 years ago.

Find out more or register for the Swim & Fin event here: https://www.swimandfin.org/

NE-LMSC Members Take on Misery Challenge

Results      Photos

Contributed by Guy Davis (GBM), NE-LMSC Vice Chair

Ildiko Szekely (BUMS) was the top female in the Misery Challenge.

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, MA -- Over 100 hardy competitors, including many NE-LMSC members, completed this year's Misery Challenge swim on July 15. Misery Challenge is a 3-mile out-and-back swim between the Manchester-by-the-Sea yacht club and Misery Island. The sky was overcast and the water was cooler than in previous years, but the sea conditions were very calm, making for fast swimming. As with last year's race, swimmers had to navigate low tide conditions, completing the course with a 200-yard beach run.

This year's winners were Eric Nilsson (57:11) of Tech Masters (MIT) and Ildiko Szekely (1:00:15) of Boston University Masters (BUMS). Another notable performance was Sam Levinson's (Unattached) completion of the course swimming butterfly in 1:48:48. Levinson is training to take on the channel swims of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming -- butterfly! Many thanks to race organizer Josh Crosby and his team, volunteers, and sponsors for another terrific event.

Mindy Williams (GSP) was third overall female and won her age group.

Martha Wood (Unattached) and Guy Davis (GBM) each won their age group.

Swim Across America Boston Harbor Raises Over $220,000 for Cancer Research

Results     Photos

 Contributed by Jessica Stokes, Charles River Masters

The 21st Annual Swim Across America Boston Harbor Swim was a big success! Spirits were high among the passengers on Timeless and Secret Love, despite the overcast sky. Team members were able to jump off their boats and complete three or four 15-minute swims in the Harbor. (Usually, swimmers swim four to six times, but there was a delay in the action this year due to fog.) Team members included seven Olympians: Carlton Brunner, Janel Jorgenson, Kristy Kowal, Alex Meyer, Heather Petri, Eric Vendt, and Eric Wunderlich. The Boston Harbor Swim and the Boston Pool Relay (which took place in April) raised a combined $325,000 for Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Perini Center and Mass General Hospital for Children's cancer research group.

Theroux Completes 40-Mile Circumnavigation of Aquidneck Island

On September 26, Trent Theroux swam 40 miles around Aquidneck Island, home to Newport, Rhode Island, to raise money for RISE Above Paralysis - a non-profit focused on assisting families of people who have experienced spinal injuries.

Trent faced six-foot swells and headwinds during his roughly 18-hour swim, but he powered through and came ashore with a smile. 

Check out a video of Trent's finish at Bowen's Wharf here. Follow more of Trent's swim via the real time updates posted to NE-LMSC and SwimRI's Facebook pages. Congratulations Trent!!


Press Coverage

Providence Journal Pre-Swim Feature

Providence Journal Post-Swim Feature

4th Annual Boston Sharkfest Draws Large NE-LMSC Contingent

Results

Congratulations to all who participated in the Boston Sharkfest earlier this month. Nearly 500 swimmers covered the one-mile distance across Boston Harbor from east Boston into the Seaport on calm waters under sunny skies. Members of the NE-LMSC made a great showing, taking age group honors in almost every age group in both the wet suit and non-wet suit categories. 

A special shout out to CMSC member Franny Cohen who celebrated her 60th birthday by swimming Sharkfest - her first open water race! - and taking silver in her age group.

Lin Completes Nantasket - Nahant - Nantasket Solo Swim

Helen Lin continues to prove she has no limit when it comes to navigating the open water. Earlier this month, Helen became the first person to make the 18-mile round trip swim from Nantasket Beach in Hull to Northeastern University's Marine Center in Nahant. Helen took a whopping 10-minute break in Nahant before heading back to Nantasket.

Read the Patriot Ledger's coverage of Helen's swim (along with video) here and enjoy the video from her crew here

Congratulations Helen! 

Penny Palfrey Wins 2015 Boston Light Swim

Results

Legendary open water swimmer - 53-year-old Penny Palfrey of Seventeen-Seventy, Queensland, Australia - handily won the 8-mile Boston Light Swim across Boston Harbor on August 15th with a time of 2:56:48. Palfrey maintained an amazing 85 strokes-per-minute pace throughout the eight-mile course.

Finishing second overall, and winning the men's competition, was 63-year-old James Clifford of Poolesville, MD, the oldest male competitor in the race. Clifford finished in 3:08:22, edging out third place finisher Jennifer Olsen, 44, of Natick, MA, who finished in 3:11:28.

The Boston Light Swim is the oldest open water marathon swim in the U.S. and has been a local tradition since 1907. Participants begin in the water at America's first lighthouse, the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island in the outer Harbor. The course continues past George's Island and Rainsford Island, then along Long Island (and past where the Long Island Bridge used to stand), and around Thompson's Island. Swimmers come ashore at the historic L Street Bathhouse in South Boston, home of the world famous L Street Brownies and the L Street Ice Swimmers.