Clock Dedication Ceremony to Accompany Third Annual Doty Memorial Swim
South Boston, Mass.—On Saturday, June 14, 2014, upwards of 50 swimmers are expected to participate in the third annual James Doty Memorial Mile Swim at the L Street Bathhouse (Curley Community Center) in South Boston. This year, in addition to the memorial swim, which is run jointly by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA) and the New England Marathon Swimming Association (NEMSA) with support from the Curley Community Center and the Doty family, two new clocks installed earlier this week in the tower on the L Street Bathhouse will be dedicated in memory of legendary local swimmer James J. Doty.
Jim Doty, who passed away in 2012 after a long illness, was a local open-water swimming legend who charted new marathon swim routes and adventures all around New England. He picked up open water swimming in his 30s to lose his middle-aged spread and soon became a top competitor in the elite ranks of marathon swimmers. From participating in the 24-hour La Tuque relay event in the 1960s to setting numerous distance and speed records to and from the Boston Lighthouse, Graves Light, around Cape Ann, and several other iconic locations, there isn’t a body of water in New England that Jim didn’t swim. Jim was also responsible for forming the non-profit New England Marathon Swimming Association (NEMSA), which is dedicated to promoting swimming and a clean aquatic environment in New England. Jim re-started the Boston Light Swim back in the mid-1970s after a long hiatus; the 8-mile BLS is the oldest open-water swim race in America dubbed “The Granddaddy of American Open Water Swims,” and is used by many open water swimmers as a launching pad for more arduous challenges like solo crossings of the English Channel.
“Jim and his series of unprecedented swims in New England set the gold standard for open water swimming in the region long before the sport became trendy,” says MOWSA President Greg O’Connor, who now runs the Boston Light Swim race. “His imaginative approach to finding new challenges has left a long list of swims many of us can only dream of completing someday. We remember Jim fondly for the support and guidance he always offered to other swimmers and for his dedication to the cause of cleaner water.”
In 2010, O’Connor and MOWSA Vice President Elaine K. Howley broke Doty’s 1969 record for the 16-mile double-crossing of Boston Harbor. Leading up to that swim, Jim offered insight and advice, a kindness that offered an unparalleled opportunity for a new generation of local swimmers to learn from a pro. “After that swim, Jim was so genuinely pleased that someone was looking to continue his swimming legacy that he took us out to lunch to congratulate us for breaking his 41-year-old record,” Howley says. “That’s just the kind of guy he was, and we are pleased to be able to run this event in his memory.”
The memorial mile swim event, which is geared for new and would-be open water swimmers, will launch from the L Street Beach and run a half-mile towards Carson’s Beach. Swimmers will round a buoy and return to the start/finish line. Preregistration costs just $10 per swimmer, carrying on Jim’s tradition of charging the lowest possible entry fee in order to offer more swimming opportunities to as many people as possible. The swim gets underway at 1 pm sharp.
Prior to the start of the swim, the Curley Community Center will host a dedication ceremony for the two new clocks that have been installed in the clock tower. The clocks were paid for by private donations and aim to help swimmers training in the harbor know how long they’ve been swimming. The dedication ceremony will begin at 12:30 pm.
“We like to think that Jim would be pleased with this small gesture of thanks for his leadership in open water swimming,” O’Connor says.
Photos by Elaine K. Howley