Friday, July 10, 2015

Save The Bay highlights top five fundraisers for 39th annual Save The Bay Swim.

By Spencer Gossy, Save The Bay Communications Intern

Begun in 1977, the Swim is Save The Bay’s largest annual fundraiser, serving as one of its most critical efforts to ensure the protection of Narragansett Bay. Each year, nearly 500 swimmers embark on the 1.7-nautical-mile swim from the Newport Naval Academy to Potter Cove in Jamestown to raise money and awareness. Thanks to everyone who sponsors swimmers in each year’s Swim, the event generates about $350,000 each year, supporting Save The Bay’s education, restoration, and advocacy work on behalf of Narragansett Bay. This year’s top fundraisers include four Save The Bay Swim veterans and one first-time participant.

Mark Formica (far right), stands with his daughter,
Emily Favreau and his son-in-law, Pete Favreau
Mark Formica, 67, of Bristol, tops the fundraising leaderboard to date with $5,150 in contributions. He attributes his love for the natural beauty of the Narragansett Bay as the inspiration behind his decision to support Save The Bay. Formica, a 19-year participant in the Swim, will be joined on July 11th for the second year by his granddaughter, Emily Favreau, and his son-in-law, Pete Favreau. The former advisor to the Save The Bay board of directors cites biking and open-water swimming as the keys to his training regimen leading up to the Swim. The Trinity College graduate and chairman of Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, says he enjoys “the preparation, the swim, the people and the sense of accomplishment when you get to the finish line.”

Patrice Kilroy, 63, of Jamestown, has raised $3,980 from 51 generous supporters in her 12th year participating in the Save The Bay Swim. Although she grew up in Newport Beach, California, she has spent countless hours swimming and sailing on the Narragansett Bay since she moved to Rhode Island in 1983. As an enthusiast of many water-related recreational activities, Kilroy recognizes the positive impact that Save The Bay has on her local watershed. “Seems like I’ve always known about Save The Bay,” says Kilroy, “When you’re out on the water, you notice if it’s clean or not. If my swimming allows me to raise money for Save The Bay, then it’s a ‘win-win’.” Kilroy swims on a Master’s swim team at St. George’s School in Newport for the entire month of June, on top of her daily cycling and yoga regimen to train for the Swim.

Daniel Force, 54, of Portsmouth, participated in his first Save The Bay Swim in 1989 while on active duty in the Navy and stationed at the Naval War College in Newport. To date, Force has raised $3,025 for what will be his 15th Save The Bay Swim. Force enjoys the beauty of the Bay in its natural state and “hates seeing litter, debris and other pollutants caused by man’s carelessness,” he said. By raising money for the Save The Bay Swim each year, he feels he is contributing directly to the Bay’s health. Force is frequently on the Bay boating or walking along its shorelines beach combing. He swims two to three times a week and runs and bicycles daily to build his endurance. He sees himself participating in the Swim until he is at least 90-years old when, “someone may need to build a ramp down to the beach so I can make it to the water with my walker in the year 2051,” he said.

Stephen Resnick, 72, has raised $2,753 for this year’s Save The Bay Swim. He has considered himself a lap-swimmer since 1977, when he ruptured his Achilles tendon and used open-water swimming as a tool in his physical therapy. Although he lives in New York City year-round, Resnick visits Newport and Middletown quite often to visit friends and family and became aware of the Save The Bay Swim six years ago. He says his favorite part of the Swim is when he can separate himself from the other swimmers, because “the views and experiences of being in open-water are breathtaking when you get a chance to take it all in.” Recounting his first visit to Narragansett Bay nearly 30 years ago, before Save The Bay had a considerable impact on the quality of the Bay’s water, Resnick said he was afraid to swim because he could hardly see through murky water that was spoiled by pollution. He has been supporting Save The Bay ever since in an attempt to ensure the Bay never reverts to its condition when he first visited Rhode Island.

Ellen Maxwell, 60, is making the 39th Annual Save The Bay Swim her first. To date, she has raised $2,727 from 29 generous supporters after she sent out a letter to her friends and family asking for their support. Maxwell decided to participate in the Swim for her 60th birthday because, to her, it is “important to set yourself little challenges as you get older to keep your life exciting.” She is a regular supporter of Save The Bay, which she considers a much-needed voice of advocacy for Narragansett Bay where she learned to swim, fish and sail. The Washington D.C. native spends much of her time in Jamestown where she first learned to swim while boating with her grandfather on the Bay. One of her most vivid childhood memories involves visiting the Round House with her grandfather and watching aircraft carriers travel up-and-down the Bay before and after the bridge was built.

The 39th annual Save The Bay Swim will be held on July 11, 2015. Five hundred swimmers and some 200 kayakers between the ages of 15 and 83+ annually participate in the 1.7-nautical-mile journey from Naval Station Newport on Coaster’s Harbor Island across open water to Jamestown’s Potter Cove. One of the most storied open-water swims in the United States, the Save The Bay Swim celebrates tremendous progress in cleaning up Narragansett Bay since its first official Swim in 1977 and the organization’s founding in 1970. In the early years of the Swim, swimmers often emerged from the water with oil and tar balls on their skin and swimsuits.