A rain-drenched swim across the bay
Swimmers and kayakers prepare to enter the water on Fire Island.

Photo provided by Bob Fischer

A rain-drenched swim across the bay

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
7/27/2017


BRIGHTWATERS—The annual Maggie Fischer Memorial Great South Bay Cross Bay Swim was held on July 14. There were 104 swimmers who entered the water on Fire Island near the lighthouse and swam across the bay to Gilbert Park in Brightwaters, a total course distance of 5.5 miles. All of the participants were followed by a kayaker for support and safety.

It was a tough year for the event, though. Event chair Bob Fischer said, “The tide was not favorable, and easterly winds made it worse. Wave conditions were also not favorable. Worse yet, the possibility of severe weather threatened. There was a window of opportunity available with only rain and poor visibility to hamper the event, and we took it.”

Local emergency officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Suffolk County Police Department, fireboats from both West Islip and Bay Shore fire departments and the Bay-Shore Brightwaters Ambulance were on hand to help as well. There were also local community chase boats out on the water to offer assistance.

The winner of the event was C.J. Arena of Amityville with a time of 2:01:35. The first woman to finish was Meghan Slattery of Bayport with a time of 2:25:33. However, Gary Smith of Islip was the honoree that day. He actually won the event in 1956 in a field of 10. His time back then was 3:15. Smith was presented with a display of newspaper clippings and a gift certificate to Teller’s restaurant.

All in all, it was another successful year for the swim that raises money for Hospice Care Network’s children and Family Bereavement program and a scholarship for a St. Anthony High School senior. Maggie Fischer, then a St. Anthony HS senior who was set to swim the race in 1999, was killed in a motor vehicle accident a few days before the event. The name of the race was changed in her memory.

For more race results, go to the website www.greatsouthbayswim.com.