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Nearly 200 swim across the Sound

Annual event that draws both swimmers and boaters raised a quarter-million dollars for cancer research

Annual event that draws both swimmers and boaters raised a quarter-million dollars for cancer research

Long Island Sound attracts boaters and swimmers alike each year to participate in the fight against cancer. Swim Across the Sound, the St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s annual charity event, raised more than $250,000 at the 19th annual 15.5-mile swim held Aug. 5.

This year saw a record number of 180 swimmers. Participants included eight soloists and 31 relay teams, and were supported by more than 60 boats, including law enforcement boats, swimmer boats, and extra official race vessels.

“Because of the boat captains, the swimmers were able to race and raise money,” says Dave Parcells, this year’s swim director. Parcells, of Madison, Conn., first got involved with the swim in 1996 as the first amateur swimmer. Since then, he was asked to join the organizations board of directors, and in 2003 switched the swim from a professional event to all amateurs.

“I’m pleased to be able to help a great cause and get out on the water for the weekend,” says Morris Cohen, of Guilford, Conn. Like Cohen, aboard his 35-foot custom Duffy, boaters from Connecticut and Long Island volunteer at the event by donating their time, service, vessel, money and fuel. Swimmers boarded their boats at Danford’s Marina, Port Jefferson, N.Y., at around 8 a.m. The race began at 9 a.m., and from there swimmers in the water scrambled to locate their assigned boat to begin the 15.5-mile swim.

“The real challenge is to stay with the swimmer. The average swimmer swims at 2 mph, while the average boat idles at 3 to 4 mph,” says Tom Toner, a boat co-captain of Fairfield, Conn., involved with Swim Across the Sound for 14 years.

The first swimmers finished — six hours after the start — at Captain’s Cove Marina, of Bridgeport, Conn., where hundreds of people awaited their arrival.

The first relay team, Westport Swim Club Lane 3, clocked in at 6:07:43. Jeremy Virgil, of Stamford, Conn., set a new amateur course record at 6:32:26 taking first place for the solo swimmers. Dori Miller of Arlington, Mass., placed first of the female solo swimmers, finishing at 7:33:23.

“I feel like you are all at my house,” remarked Jan Williams, co-owner of Captain’s Cove Marina, where the celebrations were under way at the finish line with music, food, several cancer-awareness booths and massage tables ready for weary swimmers. Captain’s Cove Marina donates their hospitality each year for the swim.

Swim Across the Sound and St. Vincent’s Hospital are already planning next year’s marathon swim.