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.