Westport Point to Point swim draws more than 60 to Compo Beach

WESTPORT — Although COVID restrictions quelled last year’s event, this year nothing dampened the spirit of the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s 42nd annual Point to Point Swim at Compo Beach.

On Sunday morning, more than 60 swimmers circled the eastern beach, covering a mile in the water in three tiers of ability — expert, intermediate and amateur. The one-mile open water race raises money to support the YMCA’s Annual Campaign. The campaign fund provides financial assistance for programs like swim lessons, child care and camp.

“I’m really excited,” said Josephine Rojas, the Y’s new aquatics director, who was seeing it for the first time.

“The rain seems to be staying off,” she said before the start. “It’s a balmy morning, but it’s great for swimming.”

Many agreed, but also noted that any open water swim can present some subtle challenges for long distances.

“What a race like this does is it separates a lot of swimmers,” explained Gregory Sargent of Fairfield, who showed the fastest time of the day with 12 minutes and eight seconds.

He explained how the current was moving with the swimmers after they rounded the first buoy, where he said a lengthy stroke worked best to move with the tide.

But in the home stretch, the opposite became true and a shortened stroke, using more effort, became necessary to keep moving.

“You’re halfway through the race and then it gets more difficult,” said Sargent, who began competitive racing 48 years ago at age six and participated in his first Point to Point Swim in 1983.

“But the conditions were beautiful, just beautiful,” he said.

Others came out for their first time, including Shelley Forrester of Westport, who has been improving her stroke with adults lessons at the Y.

“I’m a little nervous,” she admitted, heading up the beginner’s heat.

“It’s a great community event,” said Denise Hotch, fitness coordinator at the Y. “And it’s a fundraiser for people in our community who otherwise couldn’t afford memberships.”