SWIM Across the Sound is a charity run by St. Vincent’s Medical Center that provides help for cancer patients and their families. Google tells me this organization started in 1987. But I can remember learning about it through my swim team around 1992 when I participated in the annual aquathon (not the 15.5 mile marathon from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport).
For many, many, many years I’d go to the pool at Fairfield University and swim back and forth for an hour or more to raise money for the cause. I became even more invested when my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and benefited from this program. I’d look forward to the Friday at the end of July each year to swim back and forth to raise money for the cause. Sometimes I was by myself, other times I’d bring friends and cousins.
Some years I’d make it to Captain’s Cove the first weekend in August to cheer on the marathon swimmers or if I was lucky my grandfather would bring me on his boat to watch the swimmers in the open water. I’d watch in awe as they swam through the sound toward the finish line. How does one swim that far and not be scared of the jellyfish around you? Eventually the marathon was opened up to be a relay team event. Should I get a team together and attempt it or just continue my cheerleading skills for the event? I decided to stick with my cheering skills.
This year the last Friday in July passed with no mention of the aquathon. I wonder why they aren’t having it? I know over the past few years it’s dwindled in participants is that it? Or is it because of COVID? But this past Friday I got an email inviting people to the Cove to cheer on the marathon swimmers the next day. With nothing else going on my mom, sister and I headed down to cheer.
As we got there we heard the announcer say “the first relay team is about 200 meters away from the finish line. Let’s cheer them on!” We picked up our pace to get to the dock to see. We looked and looked but didn’t see any swimmers. What was going on? Where were they? We could see on the dock a balloon arch and a sign saying finish. We were in the right place, so where were the swimmers?
“Let’s cheer them on,” the announcer said again. “They are in the home stretch.” More cheering happened, but no swimmers appeared as we searched the harbor. Eventually the relay team finished with a new course record and we had to ask the people around us what the deal was.
“Oh, they finished out there,” they said pointing to the opening of the harbor. “It is too polluted around here for the swimmers to finish up close here. You can watch the finish on the TV that is set up over there or on your cellphone like me.”
While I was bummed not to see them actually finish (or to do the aquathon for that matter) this year, I was glad I was there to support this amazing cause. Who knows maybe next year I’ll be swimming again!