The annual 8-mile Boston Light Swim is a perennial favorite among marathon swimmers around the world and this year’s event boasts an accomplished group of solo and relay swimmers hailing from near and far. From Boston and New York to California and Dublin, Ireland, 23 solo endurance swimmers and six relay teams are set to compete this Saturday.
Competitors will start in the water at 9 am just off of Little Brewster Island in the shadow of America’s first lighthouse, the Boston Light. The marathon swim runs for eight miles amid the Boston Harbor Islands National Park and finishes at the famed L-Street Bathhouse in South Boston. Spectators are encouraged to arrive at the L-Street Beach to cheer in the finishers beginning at 11 am.
The historic race, dubbed the “Granddaddy of Open Water Swims,” began in 1908 and is the oldest continually contested open water swim in the country today. The race is considered one of the most difficult open water swimming races in the world today because of the chilly 58-degree water temperature typically found at the start and variable conditions, and strong tidal flows. Swimmers and their crews must carefully train for and navigate these challenges accordingly, and completion is not guaranteed.
Most swimmers manage to complete the swim within three to five hours. There is a five-hour time limit on the course, and safety is the primary concern for Race Director Greg O’Connor, who is running the event for the fifth year in a row.
“We have put a lot of time, energy, thought, and effort into making this race as safe as it possibly can be,” O’Connor says. The safety plan includes a motorized support boat assigned to each swimmer, Coast Guard and Environmental Police coverage, as well as dedicated Boston EMS personnel on standby should any swimmers experience difficulty during or after the race. “We’ve had an excellent safety record over the past several years, and we take great pains to ensure that continues for every single participant,” O’Connor says.
This year, 23 solo swimmers—9 women and 14 men—will be competing for the title of fastest swimmer to cross Boston Harbor. Winner of the 2012 Boston Light Swim, Eric Nilsson of Honolulu, HI, is expected to place high among the finishers again this year as he defends his title. Local swimmer Lynne F. Mulkerrin is one of the fastest women enrolled in the swim and will likely give the men a run for their money. Relay team Trident, composed of speedy Katie O’Dair and Bill Geary, is anticipated to be a top relay finisher.
Although many swimmers are racing, others are enrolled to participate for the enjoyment and the challenge of finishing a massive event like the Boston Light. For some, it’s a building swim as they gear up for crossings of the English Channel. For others, like Maura Twomey, originally from Dublin, Ireland and now living in Jamaica Plain, the swim is a culmination of years of training and a true passion for open water swimming. Last year, Twomey competed as part of a relay team; this year, she’s going it alone to test her Irish mettle against the cold and unforgiving Boston Harbor.
No matter why they swim, the Boston Light Swim staff wishes all swimmers a safe and personally fulfilling crossing. This year’s race is sponsored by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), Hammer Nutrition, Finis, and Harpoon. An after-party will be held on the beach at the L-Street Bathhouse, followed by a celebration at the world-famous L-Street Tavern on L-Street in Southie.
For more information, visit us online at www.bostonlightswim.org. For media inquiries, please contact: Race Director, Greg O’Connor, at [email protected]
1. Courtney Paulk, Richmond, VA
2. Laura Colette, Beverly, CA
3. Richard Sweeney, South Boston, MA
4. Devon Dear, Somerville, MA
5. Sylvia Marino, Mill Valley, CA
6. Eric Nilsson, Honolulu, HI
7. Elias Falcon, Brooklyn, NY
8. Tom Currier, New York, NY
9. David Kilroy, Marblehead, MA
10. Kim Garbarino, Winthrop, MA
11. Richard McKern, Summit, NJ
12. Bob Burrow, Weston , MA
13. Rob Jones, Charlottesville, VA
14. Allyson Parent, Tewksbury, MA
15. Francis O’loughlin, South Boston, MA
16. Don Debaker, Safetyharbor, FL
17. Lynne Mulkerrin, Dorchester, MA
18. Zachary Cordero, Cambridge, MA
19. Andrew Jones , Swampscott, MA
20. Maura Twomey, Boston, MA
21. Jonathan Gladstone, Somerville, MA
22. James Haynes, Lynn, MA
23. Jia Jung, Andover, MA
• Sibling Rivalry: Nicole and Benjamin Glazer.
• Team Trident: Bill Geary and Katie O’Dair
• Coney Island Stowaways: Silverio Bracaglia, John Daprato, and David Cook
• Kastango: Kari Kastango, Stephen Gillis, and Peter Gillis
Four –Person Teams
• SOS: Michael Garr, Brian Gardner, Donald Sorterup, and Jon Cooper
• Boston Cods: Anita, Loughlin, Giulia Norton, Wendy McDanolds, and Margie Shaughnessy
This unedited release was provided to swimswam.