While the Hamptons Swim, a Swim Across America fund-raiser, is a recreational one, Rod McClave, an international-caliber triathlete and training partner of Laurel Wassner, who recently became the first woman ever to win the Montauk triathlon outright, can’t help but move along swiftly.
His time of 43 minutes and 31 seconds in the 5K — one of three distances swum in Gardiner’s Bay Saturday morning by 126 participants who’d raised money to fight cancer — was so fast, in fact, that Gerry Oakes, a Swim Across America board member and chairman of its volunteer Nassau-Suffolk committee, was astounded.
“Forty-five minutes for a 5K would be the time of a 20-year-old Olympian,” Oakes said during a telephone conversation Monday evening. “A masters swimmer, somebody in good shape in his 30s or 40s, would swim a 5K in around an hour and 15 minutes.”
When questioned, McClave readily agreed. “My 5K time is usually between 54 and 55. The top ones in the world championships are in the 43 range.” He could only conclude, he said, that this year’s triangular course was shorter than advertised.
Not that he was out to break any records, McClave, who’s working on getting his professional triathletic card, said, after running up the Fresh Pond, Amagansett, beach to the sign-in table, that he had swum because “it’s a good cause — there’s no reason not to do it.” Moreover, said the 37-year-old New York City resident, “they run a tight ship here — this is the best open water swim I’ve ever been at.”
John Ryan Sr. said later that “since safety is our main concern, we put even more lifeguards out in the water than Swim Across America recommends.”
Jim Arnold, who with Ryan made sure everyone was accounted for as they left the beach and returned to it, added, “We’re here to serve the community — we want to make you feel as comfortable as you would be in your own backyard.”
McClave said he’ll return here for the Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad’s Kirk Park-to-Ditch Plain ocean swim for the Montauk Playhouse on July 23, and added that he would have done the North Fork triathlon this Sunday and the Montauk sprint triathlon on July 17 as well, but he had been told when he called that they were full.
“We were at over $110,000 by Saturday, but we think, once all the checks are counted, that we may finish at around $130,000,” said Oakes, who swam the one-mile course.
Children were asked to raise at least $300, and adults at least $500. There were a half-dozen teams, either named in honor of someone who has cancer or in memory of someone who, as was the case with Michael Bromley, for whom the Minetree family was swimming, has died of the disease.
Half of the proceeds — an estimated $65,000 — from the Hamptons Swim are to go to Fighting Chance, a Sag Harbor organization that provides free services to cancer patients on the East End and their families. Half is to be apportioned by Swim Across America among the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, and the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory.
“We’ve been impressed by Fighting Chance — we’re trying to help them grow,” said Oakes, adding that “Swim Across America has given it $200,000 over the last three years.” The Nassau-Suffolk committee, he added, “raised $660,000 on the Island last year, and Swim Across America, which runs events all over the country, has raised $4.5 million all told.”
“It was great,” said Oakes, when asked how the water was. “I didn’t see any jellyfish. They were a problem last year. But if there were any — and I would have known because I didn’t have a wetsuit — they thankfully didn’t see me. . . . And don’t forget to add how pleased we are with East Hampton Town, which runs this event. We’re the town’s guest. We gave Supervisor Wilkinson a plaque thanking him at the awards ceremony.”
Some of the participants who also are cancer patients spoke at that ceremony, Oakes said. “Arnie Paster of Southampton, who was the top individual fund-raiser, with more than $10,000, was especially moving.”
Team Tarlow, he said, had topped the teams with more than $15,000 raised.
The Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter Hurricane swim team was out in force, among them Georgie Bogetti, who was swimming for her father, Jeff, an Ocean Rescue member who has brain cancer, Teague Costello, Thomas Brierley, Carly Drew, Marikate Ryan, Julia Brierley, Amanda Calabrese, Cecilia de Havenon, Maddie and Lilah Minetree, and Grace Howard, whose birthday it was.
Drew, whose specialty is the butterfly, when asked how it would be doing three miles, replied, “We do three miles altogether in practice, so it shouldn’t be hard. It’s kind of boring, but it’s better than being in a pool.”
“It’s the same, but different,” said Calabrese.
“My husband’s out there on a surfboard,” Stephanie Bogetti, who was keeping a count of the swimmers, said. “This is a great thing,” she added, “and it’s a great day for it.”
When asked about her daughter, who, though only a seventh grader, has medaled in national lifeguarding contests, Bogetti said, “She’s a distance girl, not a sprinter . . . she raised $2,500 on her own, and Team Jeff has raised over $8,000.”
Tom Cohill, the Hurricanes’ coach, who was the D.J. and handled the mike that morning, agreed that distance was Georgie Bogetti’s thing, adding, “she’s too young for the varsity, but she’ll make a splash soon.”
He was, he said, in reply to a question, “very, very excited” to see all his talented charges skimming through the bay.
Looking ahead to the fall, Maddie Minetree said the high school’s girls swim team ought to be as strong as ever given the fact it had lost only two seniors and that three or four younger competitors, including her sister Lilah, were coming up.
The first one-miler up the beach was Angelika Cruz, a Spanish teacher at the Montauk School who recently passed the cold water ocean lifeguard test and intends to become a member of the Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad.
Asked if she were a triathlete, she said, “I run and I swim, but I don’t bike.”
Arnold said he wasn’t sure who had been first out of the water among the half-milers.
McClave did that one too, swimming along with Devin Richards, the 10-year-old daughter of a friend of his, Jodi Richards.
“She did amazingly,” McClave said of Devin. “She came in ahead of a couple of guys.”