Green Whales Inc., has announced that the Atlantic City Around the Island Marathon Swim will return July 14.
The race around the island will be held in honor of the late Jim Whelan, a former A.C. Beach Patrol swimming champion, A.C. mayor, New Jersey Senator and a great supporter of the race.
The 22.75-mile race, once a famed annual summer event that attracted some of the best open swimmers in the world, was last held in 2006.
“We’re very excited to bring back the race, and our ultimate goal is to raise awareness to Whelan’s Whales, to keep kids in the pool and help them succeed,” said meet director Karen Bown, a 44-year-old Galloway Township resident. “We’ve spoken to the Whelan family, and we have their permission to have his name on the festival. We’ve been in contact with the cities of Atlantic City, Margate, Longport and Ventnor, and the Coast Guard and Marine Police. A lot of people have been working on this for just under a year, to ensure the safety of all the athletes.”
The Around the Island Marathon Swim will be part of the inaugural Jim Whelan Open Water Festival, which will also include a 400-meter swim and a two-kilometer swim.
Green Whales Inc., is a nonprofit organization that funds Whelan’s Whales, the Greenheads Swimming age group swim team and the Greenheads Special Olympics swim team.
Whelan’s Whales is a free swim lesson and water safety program provided to the children of Atlantic City. All proceeds and fundraising of the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival’s three races will help support Whelan’s Whales.
“People loved Jim, and they love what the race and festival are all about, and that’s the kids,” Bown said. “We are bringing back a race that’s famous. By our calculations, this should be the 54th. What better way to celebrate Atlantic City and Jim but to bring back a race that he loved.”
The start-finish line of the Around the Island Marathon Swim will be at the Atlantic City High School crew boathouse on Fairmount Avenue along the bay near the Albany Avenue Bridge. The direction of the race will be determined the day before the event.
The marathon race will have a capacity of 16 individual athletes and eight relay teams. Swimmers must be 18 or older to swim as an individual, or 16 or older to swim on a relay team. Relay teams can be made up of two to six swimmers.
The current A.C. Marathon Swim record holder, according to marathonswimmers.org, is Stephane Gomez, of France, with a time of 6 hours, 37 minutes, 9 seconds in 2004.
“We’ve had international interest, from Ireland and the U.K,” Bown said. “We’re hoping the local folks participate in it too. We’ll have novice swimmers (in the 400-meter race), all the way up to the expert swimmers. Victoria Dolceamore, one of our personnel who’s helping with the planning of it, also plans on swimming it. Our meet referee, Ray Peden, has been an open water swimmer and referee for many years.”
Registration for the Marathon Swim and the other races begins Feb. 1. Information and the link to registration can be found on www.greenwhales.org.