It was late on a Friday night when I first heard the news: The Buzzards Bay Swim had been canceled.

Just hours before go-time, all the hard work and training I had put in since March dissipated before my eyes. An email from Buzzards Bay Coalition mentioned a dangerous level of bacteria from sewage discharge due to excessive rainfall, making New Bedford Harbor unsafe for swimmers.

I can't imagine the disappointment on the faces of organizers as they made the difficult decision to call off the swim. They were simply doing their job, protecting the well-being of the participants.

No doubt about it, I was bummed.

I went to bed with a heavy heart, repeating to myself, "It is what it is." and "There's always next year."

My alarm still went off bright and early the following morning. I was in bed, wide awake, staring at the ceiling. I must have refreshed my email a dozen times, hoping and praying that the swim would be back on, but nothing changed.

So, it was time to take matters into my own hands.

READ MORE: Buzzards Bay Swim Canceled for First Time in 31 Years

Onset's Silver Shell Beach is where I've been training, so it seemed fitting to mimic the 1.2-mile swim in a familiar area. I grabbed my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap, and made my way to Onset.

Upon arrival, I was happy to see other Buzzards Bay Swim participants with the same idea. Colorful swim caps dotted the bay as each swimmer fought through a strong current to complete the mission.

The water temperature was a warm 72 degrees, perfect for swimming. After a quick stretch, I defogged my goggles, took a deep breath, and began my swim. The buoy system measured out a quarter-mile each way, so I had to make five trips back and forth to reach the 1.2-mile mark. The actual Buzzards Bay Swim was supposed to go across the harbor.

Everything I had done leading up to this point motivated me as I counted my strokes and focused on my breathing. It was just me and the open water.

As I passed the final buoy marker, a sense of accomplishment washed over me like a second wind. The shore approached quickly, and the moment I emerged from the water felt great. I stopped the clock at one hour and 7.1 seconds, coincidentally displaying 1:07.1 (as in Fun 107.1).

This swim was meant to be.

Buzzards Bay Coalition raised over $200,000 this year to continue efforts to keep the watershed clean. This is particularly important given New Bedford's ongoing challenges, despite improvements in recent years. Raising awareness for clean water doesn't stop, and New Bedford's "crappy" weekend situation should be an eye-opener.

I'll happily keep swimming and advocating for a great cause.

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