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Taking the plunge for a cleaner Narragansett Bay

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JAMESTOWN – Some 400 swimmers and 200 kayakers traveled 1.7 nautical miles on Narragansett Bay on July 20 as part of Save The Bay’s 37th annual Bay Swim.

The actual quality of the bay has improved greatly in the last four decades, but the message of the swimmers and kayakers has just as much meaning today, according to Save The Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone.

“Narragansett Bay isn’t just home for fish,” Stone said. “As Rhode Islanders, we live our lives in, on, and next to the bay. A healthy bay, alive with crabs, quahogs, stripers and osprey, nurtures all of us with its fresh air, cool clean water, and endless recreational opportunity.”

Stone called the annual swim both a celebration and call to action. “It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come – from the raw sewage and industrial waste of the 1970s and ‘80s to trophy striper fishing in the Providence River today.”

But, Stone continued, “This year’s persistent beach closures should serve as a warning that we are long way from restoring Narragansett Bay to health. The swim is the perfect expression of a community that cares deeply about our bay, and is willing to take action to ensure its recovery.”

For the previous 36 years, the course of the swim had been across the East Passage, from the Naval Station in Newport to Jamestown. This year, the course was altered due to federal sequestration, so the course started and finished in Jamestown.

Among the elected officials on hand to greet the participants at the finish line at Potter’s Cover in Jamestown were Rep. David N. Cicilline and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares.

The swim is the largest open-water swim in the Northeast region and is sponsored by Citizens Bank.

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