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The 30th Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla attracts a record 421swimmers and raises an estimated $225,000; swimmer Shawn McNulty, with daughter Nicole, is top fundraiser at $35,215; Provincetown Harbormaster’s Office honored; surprise marriage proposal accepted.

On your mark, get set, go! Photo: Mike Syers

PROVINCETOWN, MA. With hurricane Irma looming on everyone’s mind, the 30th Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla welcomed a record 421 swimmers to the seasonally warm waters of Provincetown Harbor with a light northeast breeze and sunny blue skies. This post-Labor Day community celebration and fundraiser generated an estimated $225,000 for AIDS, women’s health & the community, with critical support from 150 volunteers. Swimmers hailed from as far away as London, Amsterdam and Quebec.

Swimmer Shawn McNulty of Provincetown, along with his daughter Nicole, raised a record $35, 215.00 in pledges from 350 individual donors.

The weekend event kicked off on Friday with the inspired Celebration of Life Concert at the UU Meeting House, produced by John Thomas.

Nicole & Shawn McNulty before the Swim. Photo: Mike Potenza/Seahorse Digital

“This event highlights the importance and effectiveness of government and the community working together to assure the safety of its residents and visitors. We are grateful”, stated Jay Critchley, Director of the Provincetown Community Compact, sponsor of the event. He remarked before the Swim, “The oceans have no borders. We will be thinking of our brothers and sisters devastated by hurricanes as we swim across the harbor.”

Assistance on the harbor was provided by the Provincetown Rescue Squad, US Coast Guard, Provincetown Harbormaster and the Cape Cod National Seashore, along with the Center for Coastal Studies and 75 kayakers and power boats.

The Swim for Life, headquartered at the Boatslip Beach Club, included the Mermaid Brunch, catered by Far Land Provisions, with entertainment by Zoe Lewis, followed by the awards ceremony. Rex McKinsey and Luis Ribas of the Provincetown Harbormaster’s Office were honored with the David Asher Volunteer Award for their years of critical Swim support and their volunteer contributions to the community. James Cote of Brooklyn surprised his boyfriend, Keith Atchison, with a public marriage proposal, which he accepted, to the delight of the crowd.

The Wellesley High School swim team presented their rousing cheers at the Boatslip and at the Swim start at Long Point. Handcrafted medallions by Christie Andresen of Taqwa Glassworks were awarded to swimmers who have swum ten times or raised $10,000 in pledges. Circle of Honor recipients include: Christopher Flynn of Boston and Reenie Desabrais of Chicopee, MA.

Provincetown Harbormaster Rex McKinsey. Photo: Jay Critchley

Seventy-two 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. Following McNulty, other top fundraisers include: Jim Youngerman, Lenox, MA, $17,142; Jonathan Scott, Provincetown, $10,001; Barbara Jo Revelle, Gainesville, FL, $7,198; John MacClaren, Walpole, NH, $6,123; Paul Mast, Waldwick, NJ, $5,904; Team Chris Nagle, Eastham, $5,000; and top kayaker fundraiser, Maureen Desabrais of Chicopee at $3,000.

Although not a race, times are recorded for personal best. The fastest male swimmer was Justin Burkhardt of Cape Elizabeth, ME at 28:40. Top female finisher, at two seconds behind Burkhardt, is Kristen Read of Arundel, ME at 28.42. The oldest female swimmer was Joan Nagle, 83, of Eastham, and the oldest male was Robert Callender, 74, of Tiburon, CA. Abby Walker was the youngest swimmer at nine years old, swimming the distance in a “Satellite Swim” in a pool over the summer.

Boatslip finish line crowd. Photo: Mike Syers

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

Special thanks to Peregrine Theatre Ensemble, Mosquito Story Slam, DFlax, WOMR FM, Dunes Radio, Kathryn Rafter and Francey Beall, Allan MacKinnon, Provincetown Aquasports, the Funk Bus and Mayflower Trolley, Cee Jay, Dog Gone Sailing, John Salvatore, Schooner Hindu, Flyer’s Boat Rentals and numerous volunteer boaters.

Keith & James, newly betrothed at the Swim! Photo” Mike Syers

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 and Helping Our Women, primary beneficiaries; and 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.

The 31st Provincetown Swim for Life is set for September 8, 2018.

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