This Saturday 475 swimmers and 225 kayakers made the 1.7 mile journey across the bay to raise money for Save The Bay, a non-profit member organization that works to protect and restore Narraganset Bay. This year marked a record number of participants, who came from more 20 states and Canada to make the swim.
“We’ve had an incredible year,” said event director Gretchen Heath. “Last year’s Gulf oil spill was a call to action toward protecting our fragile ecosystem. This year we have 475 swimmers who are demonstrating their commitment to the environment in a very tangible way.”
“The money raised through our 2011 swim is urgently needed,” said Save The Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone, who made his seventh swim on Saturday. “This year we lost one million in federal funding for our education programs, so we’re doing double duty trying to raise funds to ensure the continuation of Save The Bay’s science programs that reach 17,000 Rhode Island students every year.”
Jana Hesser, a seven-year swim veteran, said it is easy to raise money for the organization because Rhode Island residents understand the value of Save the Bay its effort to clean up the bay.
Rachel Balaban, who makes the swim an annual event, did not even let pregnancy keep her away in a past year's swim.
"I started swimming the bay 23 years ago because I had just moved from Fairfield, Conn., where I had been active in the local bay organization there and I wanted to continue in Newport," she said. "Over the years, I've developed a passion for this swim, not only because of the environmental impact its had on our surrounding waters but also because of the community of friends I've developed and the deep love for open water swimming I've nurtured."
Save The Bay offers education programs to schools, community groups and the general public. It also works to protect the Narragansett Bay by advocating for legislation, permit reviews, and through its habitat restoration program.
Top Finishers Age Town State Net Time Matthew Gilson 43 Providence RI 38 min 09 sec Benjamin Evangelista 19 North Kingstown RI 38 min 55 sec David Polatty 40 Narragansett RI 39 min 03 sec