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Swim Across the Sound Raises Over $400,000 for Cancer Patients

August 03, 2023

Thirty-six years ago, three Boston College graduates swam across the Long Island Sound to raise $5,000 for cancer patients at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Little did they know their efforts would turn into the Swim Across the Sound marathon, an annual event that raised $455,000 this year.

This year, Swim Across the Sound went state-wide, bringing in swimmers from every corner of CT, raising money for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute and the hospital of the swimmers’ choice.

“The Swim Across the Sound holds deep significance- as it brings the community together, celebrates the Connecticut shoreline and offers hope and help to those fighting cancer,” Hartford HealthCare President & CEO Jeff Flaks said. “It is a powerful beacon of hope and a testament to the strength of coming together for a common cause. Together, we help create a lifeline for cancer patients and their families.”

Nearly 200 solo and relay swimmers protected by a fleet of 90 escort boats, perimeter boats, and 20 law enforcement, fire, rescue and Coast Guard boats made the 15.5-mile trek from Port Jefferson, NY to Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport. Money raised supports programs and services as well as financial assistance to cancer patients for items that are not covered by insurance.

“First and foremost it’s a fundraiser for cancer survivors, for families and patients who are in treatment who may have fallen on hard times and are having difficulty making ends meet,” said William M. Jennings, president of Hartford HealthCare’s Fairfield Region. “Sometimes when you have a serious disease it can affect you economically. This fund is available for incidental expenses that are related to their disease.”

Fairfield University’s Joey Nizzardo was the first solo swimmer to cross the finish line after more than seven hours of swimming. Nizzardo has competed in previous years as part of a relay team but decided to go solo this year in honor of his grandfather who is battling cancer.

“Everyone in my family has been affected by cancer, everyone I know is affected by cancer,” Nizzardo said.

Not long after Nizzardo, Nikko Price of Branford was the second solo swimmer to finish. Price was the 2022 winner of Swim Across the Sound. Now in his fourth year competing as a solo swimmer, he swam in honor of his grandmother, a thirty-year breast cancer survivor who passed away last August.

Team Water Rat Swimming was the first relay team to cross the finish line.

  • Other swimmers included:
  • “Code Blue Fish” comprised of members of the St. Vincent’s Emergency Department.
  • “Boo’s Crew” competing in memory of Beth Hare, a St. Vincent’s nurse who passed from cancer in 2019. Boo’s Crew was the 2023 recipient of the Ron Bianchi Award for the top fundraising team. Boo’s Crew raised $29,000.
  • Team RBG, a four-man, all veteran team.
  • Team Backus for a Cure, comprised of colleagues from Backus Hospital.
  • Team HOCC Sharks, comprised of physicians from the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
  • Team ST Elevations made up of colleagues from the cardiac catheterization lab at Hartford Hospital.

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