Cross Sound Swim -Jim Bayles Gets Waves (But No Waiver) From Mother Nature
Cross Sound Swim â
Jim Bayles Gets Waves (But No Waiver) From Mother Nature
By Steve Bigham
Newtown resident Jim Bayles has been swimming long enough to know you donât mess with Mother Nature. So when the wind blew across Long Island Sound at 40-50 mph, creating six-foot waves Sunday afternoon, he listened to the advice of the US Coast Guard and got out of the water.
âIt wasnât a question of me not making it, it was a question of Mother Nature not letting me,â he said Tuesday morning. âIt was really brutal out there.â
Jim was about three-quarters of the way across the Sound (four miles from the harbor mouth of L.I.) when he was forced to call it quits. He said he felt fine, but did not want to tempt the stormy seas. Once aboard the Coast Guard vessel, it still took another hour to reach Port Jefferson, where a large crowd was gathered to welcome him ashore.
The 49-year-old Butterfield Road resident attempted the swim to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut. His 16-year-old daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with epilepsy six years ago. Jim still expects to raise some $10,000 from the swim.
Among those greeting the swimmer on shore was a group from the Port Jefferson Historical Society dressed in 19th Century outfits. Sundayâs swim was billed as a retracing of Jimâs ancestorsâ âwakeâ and a return âhomeâ to where many of his ancestors came from.
âThereâs some history there,â he explained. âMy ancestors owned a shipyard in Port Jefferson. My great, great, great grandfather rowed across Long Island Sound to Bridgeport to become a shipbuilding apprentice. Then he started his own business in Port Jefferson.â
Jim says heâll hold off on another swim across the Sound until 2003. For now, heâll concentrate his efforts on what may go down as his most momentous of marathon swims â the English Channel. Heâs slated to swim that next summer to celebrate turning 50.
Jim departed the Black Rock Yacht Club in Bridgeport along with about 25 other young swimmers, who made a three-hour round-trip swim out and back to help raise money. One of them was 16-year-old Newtown resident Kane Kunst.
Sundayâs effort was Jimâs eighth âmarathonâ swim for charity. His previous efforts, in honor of his father, raised over $80,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Last year, Jim became the first person in history to have completed the task of swimming under all 25 major New York City bridges. The final bridge was the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, under which he swam on his way from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to Manhattan, an 18-mile swim, as part of his annual iron-man fundraiser. Two years ago, he swam the 28 miles around Manhattan and, in 1998, he swam from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Manhattan. Before that, he swam the Hudson River from the Tappan-Zee Bridge into Manhattan.
Â Jim, who wakes up each morning at 3:30 and makes his way to New Canaanâs YMCA to train, has had a lifelong passion for swimming. He began swimming competitively at age five and recalls charting his âextraâ laps using a map of Manhattan. âWe used it as a chart to determine how far we had gone. It took me all summer to make it around,â Mr Bayles recalled.
Mr Bayles went to the nationals while at Dartmouth College, where he excelled in the 400 individual medley and barely missed qualifying for the 1972 Olympic trials.
Jim and Trina Bayles moved to Butterfield Road in Newtown five years ago along with their three daughters, Jen, Brooke, and Katie.
To help support Jimâs fundraising efforts call him at 270-0840.