2017-08-03 / News

Waves keep swimmers ashore for Save The Bay’s annual race

A nor’easter with 30-knot gusts, patches of fog and 3-foot waves forced nearly 500 swimmers and 200 kayakers to remain ashore Saturday during Save The Bay’s 41st annual swim across the East passage, which was canceled because of the weather.

“We are disappointed to have to call off the swim, but safety is always our first concern,” said Jonathon Stone, executive director of Save The Bay.

It was the first time the event has been canceled, though it was delayed for a month in 1998.

According to Stone, he consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard before scratching the swim, which is the environmental agency’s largest annual fundraiser. With sustained winds between 10-15 knots, Stone said the conditions between the Naval War College and Potter’s Cove, a 1.7-mile course, were too dangerous for amateur swimmers and kayakers.

Some Jamestowners who frequently participate in the event said they were disappointed but understood the decision.

“They had to make that call, but it’s a disappointment to everyone who loves that swim,” said John A. Murphy, who’s taken part in about 20 Save The Bay swims.

Judy Beckman, who’s taken part in the past 22 swims, said the appropriate precautions were taken, though she has participated in races in worse seas.

“I’ve done other competitions in tougher weather, but there were other factors at play,” she said.

The conditions would have made any necessary rescues more difficult, she said. There also was the specter of the Boston man who died in last year’s race during calm seas that may have played a role in the cancellation, she added.

“It might have been an overabundance of precaution, but every race is different,” Beckman said.

Although the race never commenced, swimmers raised nearly $200,000 to benefit the charity, which uses donations to protect Narragansett Bay and its 400 miles of coastline.

“We know how hard our swimmers have trained and worked to raise funds for our efforts to protect the bay,” Stone said. “We are grateful.”

Butler tabbed as group’s president

Cindy Butler has been reelected to her third year as president of Save The Bay’s executive board, which advises the full board of directors.

Their duty is to protect and restore Narragansett Bay, the state’s most valuable natural resource, while remaining fiscally sound.

Active with the organization since 2006, the Mast Street resident also operates a consulting firm, Butler & Associations, which specializes in human resources.

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