At its core, the Swim for Life, now in its 28th year, is a community event that spreads its largesse to numerous non-profit organizations that help create a healthy and sustainable community.
The event relies, in large part, on swimmers who have made the Swim a priority in their lives and return year after year. This year two swimmers will reach a milestone in their commitment to Provincetown, swimmers who have swum twenty-five times: Bill Silvestri, from Dorchester, and Joe Stewart, from Baltimore. They will be honored at the September 12 event at the Boatslip with the Long Point Award, presented by the Provincetown Community Compact.
I asked Bill a few questions:
– When did you start swimming?
My parents taught me how to swim as a baby. Soon after, they would fight with me to get out of the water because my lips would be blue.
I feel totally connected with life and nature every day I swim. It is hard to describe the different textures and palette of colors seen when you swim at different times day or night.
– What do you like about swimming?
I was smoking upwards of two packs of cigarettes a day and leading a rather sedentary life and realized I was headed for trouble. Soon after I quit I met Jim Doty, a legendary swimmer and one of the founders of NE Marathon Swimming. He asked me to join a relay team in the Boston Light Marathon Swim. His encouragement helped me to do something I never, ever thought possible. Then he suggested the Swim for Life.
– What was your first Swim for Life like?
I was terrified, but it turned out to be one of the greatest thrills of my life. I just knew I would be back the following year.
– Why do you do the Swim for Life?
I have felt a connection with the Provincetown community ever since my first swim. I love the camaraderie and feel strongly about supporting the causes that receive funds from the swim. As a musician, I am a strong supporter of the arts and the Provincetown Community Compact’s philanthropic efforts to preserve the special character that is Provincetown. My late brother, Jim, absolutely loved joining me every year for the swim. It was our “brother weekend” away. The year the Tibetan monks were there was pivotal for him finding peace before he passed.
Bill’s long-time partner, Somchai Darnsirichaiswad, will be completing his eleventh consecutive Swim this year.