Gateway: Living

Swim with Fish participants raise $12K for Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank

The 18 swimmers who participated in the ninth annual Swim with Fish fundraiser Saturday pose for a group shot. The event raised $12,627 for the Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank. Participants swam the Colvos Passage, a one-mile swim, beginning on Vashon Island.
The 18 swimmers who participated in the ninth annual Swim with Fish fundraiser Saturday pose for a group shot. The event raised $12,627 for the Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank. Participants swam the Colvos Passage, a one-mile swim, beginning on Vashon Island. Courtesy

Clad in wetsuits, 18 swimmers dove into waters off Vashon Island on Saturday to swim the Colvos Passage for the ninth annual Swim with Fish fundraiser.

Together the swimmers raised $12,627 for the Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish Food Bank, breaking the previous year’s record by $2,600.

Steve Rees was the first participant to finish the one-mile swim in 32 minutes, 57 seconds, while swimmer Allison Skibbs raised the most money, netting pledges amounting to $2,300.

The swim began at the home of 99-year-old Jane Macready on Vashon Island. Macready has allowed the swim to begin at her backyard beach for eight of the nine swims.

More than 140 people attended a post-swim party, with a potluck dinner and music by Mark Thomas and his blues band.

The event also included a kids swim, featuring a short course swim around designated markers.

The idea for the swim began in with neighbors Peter Bortel and Steve Rees who, looking across the Sound from their Point Richmond Beach backyards, decided they could swim the distance.

The inaugural swim was held in 2007 and featured five swimmers and two dozen neighbors for support. Five years ago the swim became a fundraiser with the goal of raising funds for the Gig Harbor Peninsula Food Bank.

The biggest issue facing the swim today is participant safety, with temperature, water currents and boat traffic all posing risks to swimmers.

The swim is timed to be held as close to high-tide as possible to lessen the effects of the current, and held during the summer to try and achieve the warmest waters and calmest conditions possible for swimmers. Swimmers wear wetsuits to lessen the exposure to the cold water and each swimmer is required to have surface support, typically a kayaker, to guide and watch them during the swim. The surface support also increases the swimmers visibility to boating traffic.

2015 Swim with Fish participants and their completion times

1. Steve Rees - 32:57 (no fins)

2. Marty Paul - 34:02 (no fins)

3. Tony Marchman - 34:25 (no fins)

4. Tesa Johnson - 35:44

5. Lance Hester - 36:16 (no fins)

6. Joe Karhan - 37:16 (no fins)

7. Peter Bortel - 37:41

8. Brian Govit - 38:38 (no fins)

9. Tres Walker - 40:31 (no fins)

10. Jason Pape - 41:15

11. Drew Kellerman - 41:25 (no fins)

12. Chris Mayor - 44:18

13. Bill Coughlin - 44:38

14. Keith Reagan - 46:02 (no fins)

15. Larry Burr - 50:34

16. Mark Dietzler - 57:25

17. Allison Skibbs - 58:10

18. Megan Becker - 77:21

Kids swim participants

1. Caiden Campbell, age 9

2. Hannah Welch, age 8

3. Ben Bortel, age 8

4. Sam Campbell, age 8

5. Cooper Pape, age 8

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