MOWSA and BLS Staff

The Boston Light Swim has a lengthy history and has passed through the capable hands of several race directors down the ages, including legendary New England marathon swimmer Jim Doty, who revived the swim in 1976 after a three-decade hiatus. Since 2008, Greg O'Connor and Elaine K. Howley have co-directed the annual 8-mile race across Boston Harbor. In 2010, Greg founded the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit to further expand our mission of encouraging marathon swimming in and around Massachusetts' waterways. We are pleased to be able to contribute our volunteer efforts to the lengthy tradition of open water swimming in New England with the assistance of a strong, core team.

BLS and DOTY SWIM Race directors

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Greg O'Connor

MOWSA Founder and President
Boston Light Swim Director Emeritus

A lifelong swimmer, Greg O'Connor competed on the varsity team at Gettysburg College. He retired from swimming after graduation, but several years later, dismayed by middle-aged spread, he decided it was time to get back in the water. He set his sights on completing the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in Maryland, and before long, he was hooked on open water. He soon decided to see whether he could go farther, and in 2006, he completed his first Boston Light Swim. From there, he's gone on to complete a solo crossing of the Catalina Channel, a solo loop around Manhattan Island, a double Boston Light Swim, a solo cross-Cape Cod Bay swim, and in 2018 he completed all seven stages of NYOW's 8 Bridges Swim down the Hudson. He was the first person to complete the cross-Massachusetts Bay Swim. When he's not swimming, he works as a cancer research scientist and is raising his son Finnian with his wife Wendy. In 2019, he retired from organizing the Boston Light Swim to focus on offering MOWSA solo swims.

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Elaine K. Howley

MOWSA Vice President
Boston Light Swim Race Director

Elaine began marathon swimming after meeting Greg at the pool in the early 2000s. He casually asked her if she'd be interested in training for an 8-mile swim in the Harbor. Having just finished grad school, Elaine was looking for a new challenge and returning to her open water swimming roots--she had lifeguarded for several summers on the New Jersey shore--seemed just the ticket. The 2006 race was a huge success and she swam again in '07 and '08. She holds the record for the fastest BLS Double (set in 2010 as part of a tandem solo with Greg). She's also completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, a solo length of Loch Ness, and was the first person to swim the 32-mile length of Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho. She’s also the first woman to swim the BLSx3. When she's not swimming, Elaine is a freelance journalist, writer, and editor. She lives in Waltham with her husband, Mark, and two cats.

BLS Organizing Committee

Alana Aubin, Boat and Social Media Support

Alana has been a competitive pool swimmer since childhood and was introduced to open water swimming after college. She had so much fun doing BLS in 2018 that she is attempting her longest swim yet, a Boston Light Swim Double, in 2019. An avid bicycle commuter, Alana trains and coaches with Charles River Aquatics Masters, works as a data analyst, and plays trombone.

Rick Born, Logistics Support

A life-long, competitive pool swimmer, Rick discovered his love for open water relatively late in life, when, in their mid-forties, a couple of his high school swimming buddies convinced him to do a relay of the English Channel. Having barely survived this, he finally fell in with the right group of folks (many of whom are members of the BLS committee) who have taught him so much about ocean swimming. His most adventurous solo swim was the BLS in 2015; he also loves the annual ice swimming festival in Lake Memphremagog. For his day job, Rick studies the nature of the neural circuits underlying visual perception. He has a daughter just out of college, and he lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife and two very active dogs.

Rena Demeo, Food and Beverage Wrangler

Rena has lived most of her life in Boston with the exception of 10 years in the Pacific Northwest. She moved back home because she missed being so close to the ocean. Rena also missed the thrill of mountain biking and going down hill wicked fast, and found her way to the Nahant Knuckleheads. There she met the greatest group of people doing amazing swims. Rena is now an ice/winter swimmer. She also loves crewing for her friends and learns so much from all of their epic journeys. She hopes to follow in their wake some day and do her own epic swims. For now, she loves the ice. Both for swims or a lovely Old Fashioned.

Mina Elnaccash, Boat Wrangler

Mina was a pool swimmer until 2008 when she took the plunge at the Wild Fish 1-mile swim in Salem, making her an instant open water convert. A software project manager in EdTech by day, she daydreams about her next marathon open water DNFs (somehow her favorite swims!), visiting new breweries, and competitive cooking with her partner, Kris.

Mark Howley, Volunteer Wrangler

In contrast to everyone else involved with the organization, Mark is a non-swimmer who originally hails from the United Kingdom (he’s not Australian!). An avid kayaker who supports the marathon swim dreams of others, Mark has faced a range of conditions while kayaking across the Catalina Channel, Lake Memphremagog, Lake Tahoe, and Lake Pend Oreille. He’s also supported multiple Boston Light Swim solo crossings.

Kellie Latimer, Volunteer Communications

Kellie learned how to swim in the chilly waters of Casco Bay, Maine. After 15 years competing in the pool and a brief detour into the world of triathlon, she discovered marathon swimming. Her most recent accomplishment was completing a Boston Light Swim Double in June of 2019.

Ricky Sweeney, Permitting and Site Coordination

Rick Sweeney is a life-long South Bostonian who is enjoying his current state of non-employment after spending over 38 years as an Information Technology professional. Rick is an outdoorsman who'll never refuse an offer to go on an adventure if it includes Irish Whiskey and/or beer. Rick enjoys open water swimming. He’s participated in the Boston Light Swim six times, and has participated in many marathon swims as a support kayaker.

Mark Howley (volunteer wrangler), Elaine Howley (race director) and Greg O'Connor (director emeritus) enjoy a beer at the 2018 pre-race dinner, courtesy of our 2018 beer sponsor, Castle Island Brewing Company.   Photo by Jon Washer

Mark Howley (volunteer wrangler), Elaine Howley (race director) and Greg O'Connor (director emeritus) enjoy a beer at the 2018 pre-race dinner, courtesy of our 2018 beer sponsor, Castle Island Brewing Company.
Photo by Jon Washer