Trumbull's 'Marathon Mama' inspires five teams to Swim Across the Sound

Shannon Burke and her fiancé Tom Gorton, Ann Gorton and Ryan Gorton will all take part in the Swim Across the Sound.
Shannon Burke and her fiancé Tom Gorton, Ann Gorton and Ryan Gorton will all take part in the Swim Across the Sound.

Trumbull resident Ann Gorton could be called the marathon mama – the SWIM Across the Sound marathon, that is. Gorton, two of her sons, and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law have inspired five relay teams in four towns to take turns swimming 15.5 miles from Port Jefferson, N.Y., across Long Island Sound to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport. The Gortons will join approximately 200 swimmers accompanied by a fleet of 100 boats during the 29th St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound on July 30 to raise money for cancer patients and their families.

Get to Know the Gortons

Gorton swims on the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Emergency Department Team with her future daughter-in-law, Shannon Burke, of Milford. Their team name is Code Blue Fish.

Tom Gorton, 28, Milford resident, started the Fairfield Police Department relay team this year. He is engaged to Burke. His team name is Fairfield Police Department. In 2011, Tom started the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Security Department team, which continues to swim the marathon each year.

Ryan Gorton, 18, Trumbull resident, started two Trumbull EMS teams this year. There was so much interest in their team, which includes EMTs and emergency responders from Trumbull EMS and Echo House in Shelton, that they started a second team. The team names are Earn Money Swimming Team A and Earn Money Swimming Team B.

Fairfield Police Department Team – It’s Personal

When Tom Gorton was a security officer at St. Vincent’s, he helped to launch the Security Department relay team in 2011. He knew there had never been a St. Vincent’s team, and he wanted to fix that. Soon after, he joined the Fairfield Police Department. This year he was inspired to start the Fairfield Police Department team by a coworker’s wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.

Sergeant Mike Paris’s wife Kelly found a lump in her breast, which led to meeting with a surgeon at St. Vincent’s. The surgeon recommended a mammogram, which confirmed the need for a biopsy. In the last few months, Kelly has undergone a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. The possibility of more surgery down the road exists, as well.

“Cancer has touched our department – both officers and their families – over the years and we’ve supported the SWIM by offering our Marine Unit for the day,” said Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara. “This year, one of our newest members brought fresh energy to the department, so now we have a team. We hired Tom because we believe he will be a terrific officer. We got a bonus with his enthusiasm and community spirit.”

The department is swimming to support Mike, Kelly, and their five-year-old daughter, Layla, of Fairfield, and all the other people fighting cancer. When word spread about the team and the Paris family’s fight, a family-owned business in Fairfield was so moved that it donated the entire $7,500 team fundraising goal.

“This is a gift from the heart,” said the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. “We’re happy to support the team and the department.”

St. Vincent’s Emergency Department Team: Code Blue Fish

This is the third year the St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s emergency department is fielding a relay team. The team includes eight women: Ann Gorton of Trumbull; Shannon Burke of Milford; Nicole McNeiece of Shelton; Gail Wells of Milford; Heidi Sandrowski of Trumbull; and Chelsea Smith of Monroe. Lindsay Slaybaugh of Stratford will be the team medic and Stacey Maler of Seymour will be the team time keeper.

In the Emergency Department, Ann and her teammates see patients who are fighting cancer every day. “We’re doing this for our patients. It’s our way of giving back to them,” she explained.

Shannon Burke and Tom Gorton train together, despite swimming for different teams. “Not that I’m competitive or anything, but there’s no way Tom’s team is beating us,” Shannon said. “That’s not happening.”

Their team goal is $7,500 and they’re nearly there.

To support any of the SWIM Across the Sound teams, visit

Cheer them on

As the swimmers make their way across the Sound, hundreds of supporters will gather from 2 to 6 p.m. to cheer them on as they make their final approach to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport. The maritime amusement center will be alive with music, entertainment, vendor booths, and the boardwalk shops and restaurant will be open, too.