CAPTAINS’ LOG: JULY 28-30, 2023
The MSI Team participated in the annual Swim Across The Sound marathon, benefiting the patients, and their families, affected by cancer and seeking treatment at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT. In its 36th year, this year’s Swim Across the Sound was the largest year for donations, coming in at $455,000!!! These funds are directly distributed to families to help cover the costs of fighting cancer. It provides a small relief in a trying time.
On Friday, the team took the Enders family boat to Port Jefferson, NY to dock for the night prior to the swim marathon that traverses Long Island Sound, approximately 15.5 miles from Port Jefferson, NY to Bridgeport, CT. Saturday, the team captained as an escort boat for a relay team completing the marathon, six swimmers from the UConn Swim Club.
The following is the recounting of Captain Michael and Captain Mary Leigh, escorting the MSI Team and UConn swimmers across the Sound.
FRIDAY, JULY 28
2:00p: Depart from Pilots Point Marina, Westbrook, CT on the Enders boat - That’s Amore II. The team enjoyed calm waters and sunshine, stopping for a swim halfway across the Long Island Sound.
5:30p: Arrive and dock at Danford’s Marina in Port Jefferson, NY, the start line for the swim marathon. MSI is assigned as Escort Boat #24 in the Swim Wave #2.
7:00p: The team enjoys a dinner by the docks at Ferryman’s Grille, with the sun setting over the Sound.
10:00p: Bedtime to be ready for the intensive day on the water the next day.
SATURDAY, JULY 29
6:00a: MSI Team reports to the docks for breakfast and to ready the boat for the swimmers.
7:15a: Swimmers arrive on the ferry coming from Bridgeport, CT. Michael meets them at the ferry and the MSI Team greets the crew showing them the ropes on That’s Amore II. Swimmers notify MSI Team that they would like to be swimming portside and will be swimming for 15 minutes each leg, unless the swimmer would like to swim longer.
8:00a: Wave #2 is called for position to drop the first swimmer at the beach in Port Jefferson. That’s Amore II leaves the docks at Danford’s Marina and slowly motors to the drop-off location with 20 other boats and the outgoing and incoming ferries cutting their way amongst the marathon flotilla.
8:40a: First swimmer, Brian Crowley, is brought as close to the beach as possible by That’s Amore II with Mary Leigh at the helm and swims to his position on the beach. The rest of the crew positions out at the boating start line, waiting for Wave #2 to begin swimming.
8:51a: Wave #2 hits the water and the team waits for Brian to swim alongside the boat to begin escorting. There are a few learning curves in the first leg, with Brian instructing the captains and his swim team from the water as we get our bearings.
9:06a: After some adjustments, second swimmer, Emily Clark, takes the water and Brian works with his relay team and the MSI team to run a tighter ship and keep the swimmers on course.
9:21a: Third swimmer, Matt Cristiano, takes the water.
9:36a: Fourth swimmer, Maeve Hallissey, takes the water.
9:51a: Fifth swimmer, Richmond Le takes the water.
10:06a: Sixth swimmer, Mia Tollis, takes the water.
10:21a: The relay begins again with Michael taking the captain’s helm from Mary Leigh.
10:35a: That’s Amore II is hailed by the Committee Boat with a warning of illegal transitioning by our swimmers when one swimmer’s leg ends and the other begins. Swimmers only get one warning before disqualification. The swim team and MSI captains clarify on the rules, ensuring that all transitions happen with the next swimmer coming in behind the current swimmer and fully passing the current swimmer before passing off. Transitions go smoothly the rest of the day with team members instructing transitioning swimmers when needed.
12:45p: That’s Amore II reaches midpoint on the sound between Port Jefferson and the finish line at Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport. MSI captains and the team keep the energy high by strategizing with each swimmer before they hit the water and cheering on the swimmers as they progress. Some swimmers like to stay directly to the side or a little ahead of the boat, some enjoy “racing” the boat to push their time.
1:30p: Sun is hot and Mary Leigh is being hypervigilant on the swimmers and MSI team staying hydrated and safe. Waves are getting bigger and the current is proving to be a challenge for captaining the boat in as straight a line as possible, though Michael and Mary Leigh stay the course as tightly as possible. The team remains alert for fatigued swimmers as they enter the 5th hour of swimming.
2:10p: Closing in on the last couple of miles, the team strategizes the final rotation of the swimmers and the plan for crossing the finish line. Some team members have begun taking 20 minute legs to stay ahead and cut down on transition time.
3:09p: The final rotation of the swimmers begin, with Brian Crowley pushing a tough 30 minute leg to get ahead of a fellow UConn Swim club team that is closing in and bring the team into a solid position for finishing. He covers a mile on the Sound in 30 minutes with Mary Leigh racing him from That’s Amore II as he swims through some of the largest waves of the day.
3:39p: Emily Clark takes her final swim, clocking in at 25 minutes and just over half a mile despite battling tough waves the whole swim. Michael takes the helm to captain the final mile and a half to Bridgeport.
4:04p: Matt Cristiano takes his final swim, clocking in at 25 minutes with a strong leg making it look easy after almost 8 hours of swimming, covering almost three quarters of a mile.
4:29p: Maeve Hallissey takes her final swim, clocking in at 15 minutes, bringing the team in a good position for a quick sprint to the finish line.
4:44p: Richmond Le takes the water for the final sprint to the finish line, swimming alongside three other swimmers. The team makes a lot of noise from the boat as they divert away from the final length of water to allow the finishing swimmers space to complete the swim.
4:55p: Swimmer Richmond Le crosses the finish line, the relay team finishing at 8 hours and 4 mins!!! That’s Amore II swings around to grab Richmond from the water. Congratulations are given all around, the now unified MSI and UConn teams proud of their finishing time and the work they put in together.
5:00p: That’s Amore II slowly motors their way to Captain’s Cove, where a raucous party is being held for the swimmers and boat captains as they cross the finish line.
5:25p: The MSI Team drops the swimmers at the docks and says the final goodbye before pulling into a slip for the night at Bridgeport.
6:00p: The MSI Team cleans up the boat and goes their separate ways, with a few hanging back to enjoy the buffet and open bar provided to the swimmers and boat captains!
7:35p: Mary Leigh and Michael hunker down in That’s Amore II for the night with a storm rolling in, watching the relevant movie, “Shark Tale” before passing out after 12 hours on the water.
SUNDAY, JULY 30
8:15a: Mary Leigh finally wakes up and joins Michael for a light breakfast on the boat before preparing That’s Amore II to head back to the home marina in Westbrook.
9:30a: Michael hears bagpipes right next to the boat and he and Mary Leigh catch the ceremony that is held the morning after the swim for families who have lost loved ones to cancer. Sunflowers are thrown into the water as the bagpipes play Amazing Grace, a beautiful and moving tribute to witness.
10:15a: Michael takes the helm to turn the boat around in a tight spot with Mary Leigh holding down the stern. A successful takeoff occurs and they make their way back to the Sound for a beautiful cruise along the coast of Connecticut back east to Westbrook.
12:30p: Michael successfully docks the boat at Pilot’s Point despite a strong current and high winds with the help of Mary Leigh and a neighbor on the dock at the marina.
12:45p: Mary Leigh and Michael make themselves a rum drink and get to work swabbing the decks and cleaning the cabin after a couple of days of heavy use.
4:10p: That’s Amore II is spick and span and Mary Leigh and Michael head to the pool for some afternoon sun and relaxation after the jam-packed weekend.
6:45pm: After enjoying a dinner at the marina restaurant, Mary Leigh and Michael say their goodbyes and head home, tired but elated with the weekend spent with the MSI team!
Thank you to the MSI Team and the UConn Swim Club Relay Team for their hard work, positive spirits and camaraderie during Swim Across The Sound.
It is a special thing to be able to participate in a community service event as large as this one as an organization and to welcome more folks into the MSI family!
- MICHAEL AND MARY LEIGH -
MARY LEIGH DESIGNED AND DIGITALLY DREW THIS GRAPHIC TO HAVE PRINTED ON T-SHIRTS AND COOZIES FOR THE MSI TEAM AND THE SWIM TEAM!!!
PLEASE, ENJOY A VIDEO COMPILATION OF OUR DAY ON THE SOUND!