SWIM Across the Sound depends on teamwork

Teamwork was key to SWIM Across the Sound on Saturday, Aug. 5.

In most cases, groups of swimmers took turns diving into the open water on the 15.5-mile trek from Danford’s Marina in Port Jefferson on the north shore of Long Island to Captain’s Cove in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport.

The event, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, raises money for cancer services offered by the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation. Dianne Auger, president of the foundation, said programs include screening, prevention, and paying ancillary expenses not covered by health insurance, such as rent or heating bills.

“The money that is raised by Swim Across the Sound stays right here in the community,” Auger said.

Organizing a multi-state marathon swim in open water to raise such money requires “countless” volunteers, numbering in the hundreds or thousands over the three decades of the swim. Some of those who were there at the start were at Captain’s Cove for the 30th, and said it was teamwork that has created a lasting event that has raised some $30 million for the cause.

SWIM founder Ron Bianchi, retired president of the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation, said it was people on land pulling together in the same way those sharing the swim did at sea who are responsible for the success.

“This is a good team, and that’s why it’s worked so well is that people helped each other, they cared about why we’re doing this, they cared about the people who are going to be helped and they realized you can do anything you want if you put your heart behind it, and this organization really has,” Bianchi said.

“There are not too many grassroot organizations nationally that survive 30 years,” said Dr. Frank Scifo, medical director of St. Vincent’s MultiSpecialty Group and  chairman of SWIM Across the Sound. “And the reason is because of community. That’s a key word. The community have come together for 30 years … .”

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said SWIM Across the Sound is “not just part of the Greater Bridgeport Community, it’s part of the Sound.”

“When you listen to the number of people that Dianne has been introducing, one of the things that comes through clearly is that the team that is fighting cancer does not know town lines, doesn’t know town borders; we’re one big community standing up to fight cancer, to raise money to defeat cancer, and that’s important because cancer doesn’t recognize town lines. Cancer doesn’t recognize age or gender,” Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said. “It’s important that we all come together to win this fight.”

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