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Swim for Life Celebrates 30th anniversary September 9, 2017

Year one: September 9, 1988. There was an offshore breeze, the water was unusually cold, but eighteen swimmers showed up with just ten days notice. $6,000 was raised for the Provincetown Positive People with AIDS Coalition. The swimmers sang, “Row, row, row your boat” and took the plunge to the sound of bagpipes. When they reached Long Point there was no plan to bring them back to the Boatslip beach. Rides were hitched from passing boats.

Thirty years later the event attracts 400 swimmers, 150 kayakers, boaters and volunteers. Sponsored by the Provincetown Community Compact, this year’s Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla is set for September 9, 2017 at the Boatslip Beach Club and in magnificent Provincetown Harbor.

The public is invited to greet the swimmers beginning at 11:00am. The Celebration of Life Concert, produced by John Thomas, will be held the evening before the Swim, and the Mermaid Brunch will follow the Swim on the Boatslip deck, open to the public and catered by Far Land Provisions. Zoe Lewis will provide the entertainment.

“This is a very special year for this Provincetown tradition – three decades of celebrating and supporting this spiral spit of sand we call home,” states artist and director, Jay Critchley.

The fundraiser builds community and provides year round funding and support for social services, youth and educational organizations that include: AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Helping Our Women, Outer Cape Health Services, Soup Kitchen of Provincetown, Provincetown Rescue Squad, Lower Cape Ambulance, Accessible Provincetown, The Compact Community Fund, Provincetown Schools, West End Racing Club and Cape Cod Children’s Place.

Swim start at Long Point 1996, photo collage by Mike Syers

This post-Labor-Day, 1.4-mile swim has raised over $4M for AIDS, women’s health and the community since 1988. This year’s Swim poster and t-shirt image features the dory of the late Eddie Ritter, the last historic dory in Provincetown. The photo is by Allan MacKinnon, with the design by Andrea Pluhar. T-shirts will be available at Seamen’s Bank downtown next week.

For swimmers and kayakers, personal funding pages may be set up through the Swim website: For those unable to attend the Swim this year, they might consider a Satellite Swim in a pool or another location.

Business sponsors include: Provincetown Banner (media sponsor), Seamen’s Bank (lead sponsor), and the Lobster Pot Restaurant, Far Land Provisions, Boatslip Beach Club, Fanizzi’s Restaurant, Crown & Anchor, Boatslip Beach Club, Harbor Hotel, Berta Walker Gallery, Mussel Beach Health Club, Cape Air, Bay State Cruise, Art’s Dune Tours, and Seashore Point.

Swimmers, kayakers, boaters, volunteers and friends of the Swim for Life may contact for registration, pledge sheets and volunteer opportunities.

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