After a stormy week of weather, the 29th Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla was greeted on Saturday with partly sunny skies, warm water and a mild Southeast breeze. This post-Labor Day community celebration and fundraiser generated an estimated $225,000 for AIDS, women’s health & the community with the support of 412 swimmers, 75+ kayakers and safety boats and 150 volunteers.
The event at the Boatslip Beach Club, sponsored by the Provincetown Community Compact and organized by artist and director Jay Critchley, honored Zoe Lewis with the David Asher Volunteer Award for her years of Mermaid Brunch entertainment and her contributions to the community. Artist Bill Evaul designed this year’s t-shirt.
The Prayer Ribbons installation, strung across the expansive waterfront deck of the Boatslip, included black ribbons with the names of the 49 victims and those injured in the Orlando massacre mixed into a strand of colored ribbons. A moment of silence was observed for all who have suffered from violence in the US and worldwide. Teams that participated in the event included Team4Pulse, LANES Boston, Wellesley High School, Harry’s Team Bell, Fitzy’s Mermaids and Moving Violations Motorcycle Club.
Handcrafted medallions by Christie Andressen of Taqua Glassworks and Kaolin Davis were awarded to swimmers who have swum ten times or raised $10,000 in pledges. Circle of Honor recipients include: Brian Moynihan, Boston; Shoshanna Ehrich, Brookline; Wendell Chestnut, Melrose; Dr. Ed Nardell, Brookline; William Klessens, Salem, NH; Jorge Arroyo, Brookline; Leslie Tiffany, Chestnut Hill; Esther Kohn, Jamaica Plain; Lyne Desormeaux, NYC; Suzanne Shayer, Hartford, CT; Chris Brenner, W. Dennis; and Scott Helms, Hull.
Fifty-eight swimmers and kayakers raised over one thousand dollars each in pledges and joined the $1,000 Club, receiving prizes from local businesses totaling $10,000 in value. Top fundraisers include: Jim Youngerman, Lenox, $15,001; Terry Stangel, Cambridge, $9,100; Barbara Jo Revelle, Gainesville, FL, $8,610; Paul Mast, Waldwick, NJ, $7,007; Mark Bastian, San Miguel, Mexico, $6,418; Peter Mellett, N. Truro, $6,176; Gene Elizabeth Landis, Amesbury, $5,500; and Jeff Giles, Jamaica Plain, $4,900. The top kayaker fundraiser is Maureen Desabrais of Chicopee at $2,680.
Although not a race, times are recorded for personal best. The fastest male swimmer was Johann Steiner of San Francisco at 27 minutes, 43 seconds. Top female finisher was Katie McCully of Eastham, MA at 31 minutes.
Abby Walker was the youngest swimmer at eight years old, swimming the distance in a “Satellite Swim” in a pool over the summer. Her dad, Jeff Walker and Gene Elizabeth Landis also did pool swims. The oldest female swimmer was Joan Nagle, 84, of Eastham, and the oldest male was Robert Callender, 74, of Tiburon, CA.
Other weekend events included the festive Celebration of Life Concert the night before the Swim at the UU Meeting House, produced by John Thomas, and, the Mermaid Brunch on the Boatslip deck following the Swim.
Special thanks go to volunteer crews from Seamen’s Bank, Helping Our Women, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Outer Cape Health Services and Far Land Provisions who catered the event. The Swim also thanks Wellfleet and Cape Cod National Seashore lifeguards and support from Provincetown TV, Provincetown Aquasports, transport boats Cee Jay, Dog Gone Sailing, John Salvatore, Schooner Hindu, Provincetown Marina and Flyer’s Boat Rentals.
This year’s Swim beneficiaries include: AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Helping Our Women, Provincetown Schools, Lower Cape Ambulance, Soup Kitchen of Provincetown, Outer Cape Health Services, The Compact Community Fund, Provincetown Rescue Squad, Accessible Provincetown, Cape Cod Children’s Place and the West End Racing Club.
Event sponsors include: Lead Sponsor, Seamen’s Bank, and Media Sponsor, Provincetown Banner. Business sponsors include: Fanizzi’s Restaurant, Lobster Pot Restaurant, Far Land Provisions, Boatslip Beach Club, Harbor Hotel, Crown & Anchor, Mussel Beach Health Club, Berta Walker Gallery and support from the Provincetown Visitor Services Board.
The 30th Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla is set for September 9, 2017.