Boat captains sought for St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound

St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound is in need of a fleet of about 100 volunteer boats to guide, protect, and care for more than 250 swimmers who will take to the waters to raise funds and awareness for cancer care. The 29th annual St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound Marathon will take place this year on Saturday, July 30, beginning at Port Jefferson, New York and ending at Captain's Cove, Bridgeport.

"While it's the fearless swimmers who spend months training and fundraising for this event, the success of the SWIM Marathon also depends upon the generosity of local boat captains to escort the swimmers and ensure their safety," said Dianne Auger, president, St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, which sponsors the SWIM Across the Sound. "It's truly an incredible sight to see all these boats and their crews watching over, guiding, and protecting the swimmers."

Glenn Carlson knows first-hand how important the SWIM support services are to a family living with cancer. His mom Joanne, of Monroe, Conn., fought pancreatic cancer twice and passed away peacefully on Mother's Day this year. During her treatment this past December, one of the prescriptions she was given was prohibitively expensive yet the SWIM offered to covered two years' worth of this medication. When her cancer returned and she needed specialized transportation, first from St. Vincent's Medical Center to a rehab facility and then to hospice care, the SWIM covered those expenses, as well.

"My family is forever thankful for the support that SWIM Across the Sound, St Vincent's, and all who provided care to my mom gave to us," he shared. "I am a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and I have volunteered my services and boat for the SWIM in memory of my mom. My family and I look forward to volunteering and supporting these swimmers as a tribute to her and as a way to help other families going through their own battles with cancer."

Approximately 100 boats — all staffed by volunteers — will serve either as escort boats, guide, medic, media, and special committee boats. Escort boats will be paired with a team, two-person relay, or a solo swimmer and will be responsible for their safety as well as the safety of the crew on board. Guide boats will maintain the perimeter of the SWIM course and act as a protective shield around the swimmers. It takes great boating skill to allow one swimmer to jump into the water and/or pick up another climbing back on board. Individual swimmers on relay teams tend to do 20 to 30 minute runs, while solo swimmers will be in the water for the entire distance.

Power and sail boats 22 feet and up in length are needed as escorts for solo swimmers, two-person relays, and team relays, guides, and safety backup, and to carry personnel and paramedics. Boats 18 feet and up may serve as guides and safety back-up.

The annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon fundraiser involves more than 250 swimmers making the 26 kilometer (15.5 mile) trek from West Beach in Port Jefferson, Long Island to Captain's Cove in Bridgeport, CT for pledges. In 2015, swimmers raised close to $300,000 for the SWIM Across the Sound, which provides 45 programs for cancer screening, education, and support as well as providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their families in need.

To volunteer as a boat captain, visit