LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Officials at Swim Across America canceled the swimming portion of Saturday’s “Swim to Fight Cancer” at the Larchmont Shore Club because of inclement weather.
The swimmers were supposed to swim from four miles out in the Long Island Sound onto the shore at the Larchmont Shore Club. But fog and choppy waters forced officials to cancel the swim for the first time in the Long Island Sound chapter’s 20-year history.
“The waves were too high, too much wind, too much uncertainty,” said Jim Smith, a volunteer with Swim Across America. “The decision was made probably at 8 or 8:30.”
Smith said no one was in the water at the time officials made the decision. Swimmers normally head out to the starting point on boats at approximately 7:15 a.m. or 7:30 a.m., and the first group of swimmers usually arrives at the Larchmont Shore Club shortly after 9 a.m.
The cancellation did not affect the donations already collected for Swim Across America.
More than 1,000 people still gathered at the club for breakfast and a reception, despite the mist and chilly wind. Tony Sibio, chairman of the Long Island Sound chapter of Swim Across America, said the donations collected from this year’s swims, which culminated on Saturday, should amount to more than $1 million.
Matt Vossler, one of the founders of Swim Across America, said the organization made the right call.
“This is about raising money to help people who are battling cancer. It’s about preventing cancer. It’s a celebration of the families and of the community here,” Vossler said. “Obviously, we’re not going to risk anything in the water that’s going to have an impact on that.”
Vossler said the annual event has become the standard for all the other events Swim Across America holds nationally and is the largest in terms of money raised and people involved.
Two former Olympic swimmers, Mark Gangloff and Craig Beardsley, were supposed to hit the water on Saturday. Each expressed some disappointment but knew that safety was the primary concern.
Gangloff addressed the crowd from a microphone with the word ROOKIE tattooed on his right forearm. He had planned to swim in the event for the first time.
“I guess I’ll have to wear my rookie tattoo again next year when I come back and actually swim,” Gangloff joked.
Beardsley, who was on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Swim Team and once held the world record in the 200-meter butterfly, was also a bit disappointed, but knew that safety comes first.
“Of course you get disappointed because there’s nothing better than swimming,” Beardsley said. “But you know what, I think everyone understands that you don’t control the weather.”