Rochester friends take on waking up early, racing 1.2 miles in Buzzards Bay

Jun 30, 2018

Sean Lund, 13, and Emma Whitaker, 12, say they don't like to get up early in the summer. On June 30, both happily rose at 6:30 a.m. to prepare to jump into the ocean at 7:15.

The Rochester friends were two of 315 swimmers to participate in the Buzzards Bay Coalition's annual event, traversing a challenging 1.2-mile stretch of open water between the south end of New Bedford and Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven.

Designed as a fundraiser, the event is also run as a race and treated as such by many participants.

Both Sean and Emma had their efforts rewarded with second-place medals in the 11-13 boys and girls divisions respectively.

Sean said his mother, Maureen Lund, “helped me” get out of bed. Emma calls herself an “afternoon” person.

Once they got to the bay, the morning drag faded away.

“It’s awe-inspiring,” said Emma’s father, Phil Whitaker.

Whitaker watched his daughter from the shore. He was impressed by how she didn’t fear the open water.

In fact, she loved it. She came sped through the course, finishing in 34 minutes and 13 seconds.

In some parts of the swim, she was neck and neck with Sean, who ultimately finished about seven minutes before Emma.

“It was cold in some parts,” said Emma.

“What are you talking about?” Sean responded.

The two Rochester swimmers have known each other for about a year, meeting through the New Bedford YMCA swim team.

Competition wasn’t their only fuel on Saturday. Both Rochester kids take pride in helping keep the bay clean. From swimming to sailing, Sean and Emma use the bay and nearby harbors regularly.

Last year at a sailing club in Mattapoisett, Emma and others found garbage in the harbor.

“After that, everybody was doing a search for trash in the harbor," she said.

On the other end of the age spectrum, 74-year-old Peter Burlinson of Mattapoisett completed the swim in 61 minutes and 58 seconds. It was his second time on the course. His first was in 1997 when only about 30 swimmers participated.

In all 28 tri-town residents pushed through the 1.2 miles of open water.

At 11, Nicholas Huaco of Marion was the youngest swimmer. At 74, Burlinson of Mattapoisett was the second eldest.

Juliet Xifaras of Mattapoisett, 43, captured the Six Mile Award for participating in the swim for her fifth time..

And two of the three top fundraisers have local addresses. Bill Muldoon, 68, of Mattapoisett, was No. 1, raising $4,010. Rebecca Williams, 67, of Rochester, 67, was No. 3, raisingd $3,340