2018-08-02 / About Town

Local swimmers set to participate in annual Save The Bay crossing

33 residents to swim, kayak during event

Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, a 2010 graduate of North Kingstown High, will wish luck to 33 Jamestowners as they embark on a race across the East Passage.

The fundraiser, hosted annually by Save The Bay since 1977, is a 1.7-mile swim from Naval Station Newport to Potter’s Cove in Jamestown.

Organizers expect nearly 500 swimmers and 200 kayakers from more than 25 states during Saturday’s event, which celebrates 58 years of protecting Narragansett Bay. The environmental agency was founded in 1970 to combat the industrial pollutants that haunted Rhode Island’s most precious natural resource.

“Swimming in the bay was considered, at best, disgusting; at worst, downright hazardous,” said Jonathon Stone, executive director. “Now, hundreds of us swim safely alongside marine life in increasingly cleaner waters.”

Among the 700 estimated participants are 27 Jamestown swimmers, including Christine Ariel, Judy Beckman, Barbara Bird, Peter Carson, Stephanie Cotsonas, Deb Foppert, Robert Gallagher, Keri Hague, Matt Hull, Christine Heenan, Ellen Hermann, Dean Jennings, Jeff LoGioco, John A. Murphy, Petra Napolitano, Brian Nathan, Robert Nelson, Dennis Nixon, Keelan Noble, Kathy Pazera, Erin Piva, Karalyn Sommers, Steven Turilli, Onne van der Wal, Christopher Walsh, Colin Walsh and John Welch.

Also from Jamestown are six kayakers: Christopher Fabiszak, Liam Malloy, Lex Miron, Tim Noble, Heidi Sommers and Edmund Sybertz.

Five waves of participants are expected to depart Newport beginning at 6:45 a.m., with the entire field expected in Potter’s Cove about 90 minutes later. A celebration with live entertainment, food, water, ice cream, lemonade and fresh fruit will follow until 9:30 a.m.

With a fundraising goal of $325,000, the swim is Save The Bay’s primary fundraiser of the year, providing critical support toward the organization’s mission to protect Narragansett Bay and its watershed. The ambassador for the 2018 edition is Beisel, an alum of Jamestown’s high school of record.

An All-American during her career with the Florida Gators, Beisel specialized in the individual medley and backstoke, winning medals in both events at the 2012 London Summer Games.

She defended her silver medal in the individual medley at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Eight years earlier, as a 15-year-old, she was the youngest member of the 2008 Olympic team that competed in Beijing.

Boating restrictions Saturday morning

Portions of the East Passage between Gould and Conanicut islands will be closed to boat traffic between 6:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday during Save The Bay’s annual fundraising swim. The closure extends south to the Newport Pell Bridge. The U.S. Coast Guard will allow vessels to pass through the center span of that bride on a case-by-case basis during the event. The Coast Guard can be contacted on VHF channel 16. During this closure, boats will be allowed to pass on the west side of Jamestown. Boaters with questions can call Save The Bay at 272-3540 prior to the swim.

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