Wareham swimmers help raise $146,000 to protect Buzzards Bay
Several Wareham residents made a splash at the 25th annual Buzzards Bay Swim on Saturday, June 30. They joined over 300 other competitors in New Bedford, navigating 1.2 miles of harbor and channel all the way to Fairhaven.
"It's the equivalent of swimming back and forth in a pool eighty times," said Event Manager Deborah Hood. "The average person can do it with the right training, but it's no small task."
The swim serves as a fundraiser for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, helping to protect over 8,000 acres of watershed land and keep Buzzards Bay clean.
Some Wareham's participants this year included a South African water polo champ, a retired Brockton firefighter and a Gleason Family YMCA Riptide.
Roderick Martin of Parkwood Beach moved to the U.S. from South Africa in 1998. He swam the Marblehead Mile in under an hour back in 2001 and once represented the South African Army in the National Water Polo Championships.
"The Buzzards Bay Swim is something I've wanted to do for awhile," Martin said. "I love the water, and I think it's important that we do everything we can to protect it."
Joining Martin was his neighbor, Mark Madden Sr., a retired Brockton firefighter and disabled veteran. Madden Sr. is on dialysis three times a week, but still makes time to swim every Wednesday.
"He's a real fighter," said Martin.
Madden Sr.'s son, Mark Madden Jr., joined the swim as his father's support kayak.
"My dad wants to show people on dialysis that you don't have to give up," Madden Jr. said. "He's lost both kidney's, but he's still doing what he loves."
Members of the Gleason Family YMCA swim team, the Riptides, also made an appearance at the Buzzards Bay Swim. Among them was 12-year-old Laura Clements, one of the event's youngest competitors.
"I signed up because of my teammates," Laura said. "It was my first time doing the race, but I had a great time because I got to see all my friends."
All together, teams raised $146,500 for the Buzzards Bay Coalition. For more information and race times, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.