2021 Boston Light Swim A Sunny Success

Oldest Open Water Race in America Returns to Competition after Two-Year Hiatus

Bradley Rochlin, 25, of Boston, MA, prepares to jump into the Boston Harbor at the base of the Boston Lighthouse on August 7 to start the annual 8-mile Boston Light Swim.

In 2019, thick fog rolled in just as swimmers were heading to the lighthouse to start the annual 8-mile Boston Light Swim. Conditions quickly became unsafe, and so the extraordinary decision to cancel the race and recall all swimmers and boaters back to the dock was taken. It was a massive disappointment for all involved. 

In 2020, we had a little more warning that we’d have to cancel. The COVID-19 pandemic was declared just as the swimmers who’d been selected in the lottery had been announced. Given the again extraordinary nature of the evolving conditions on the ground, the BLS committee took the difficult decision of canceling the swim in 2020. The selected swimmers were rolled into the 2021 event.

Though not all of the swimmers who had registered were able to join us on August 7th for the 2021 Boston Light Swim, 19 solo swimmers and one 2-person relay team did arrive before sunrise on Saturday August 7th for the event. The weather forecast had been good, but this is New England after all. 

But those worries were misplaced. Mother Nature welcomed the swimmers back with open arms, clear skies, and cool, sunny conditions. Eighteen of the 19 solo swimmers successfully completed the swim. The one DNF, Mike Lynch who’s also on the organizing committee of the BLS, was swimming strongly, but was roughly a mile from the finish when the event concluded after 5 hours. Undeterred, Lynch is already back in training to increase his speed so next time he can complete the entire swim. 

Jennifer Downing, 42, of Somerville, Massachusetts jumped out early to take the commanding lead she held for the entirety of the swim, finishing in 3:15:59. Downing is an avid Masers swimmer who does much of her training in the summer in open water, but this was the farthest she’d ever swim in an event. She made it look easy. 

Craig Lewin, 35, of Canton, Massachusetts, arrived at the beach next in 3:21:15. Lewin is an open water swimming coach who completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in summer 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.  

Laurie Craigen, 43, of South Boston, Massachusetts, finished third in 3:4:22. Craigen is a psychology professor at Boston University and a recent convert to ice swimming and marathon swimming. 

In the spirit of staying in it for the long haul, this year the organizing committee offered a prize to the last place official finisher in recognition of her endurance. Margaret Lonergan, of San Francisco, California, is currently a graduate student at Dartmouth College. She finished the race with less than 4 minutes to spare with a time of 4:56:10. She received Bob McCormack’s two-volume history of the Boston Light Swim and a copy of Christopher Klein’s guidebook, “Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Shores.”  

During the swim, legendary Boston Globe sports photographer and journalist Stan Grossfeld was aboard Laurie Craigen’s boat to catch all the action. Check out his story and photos online.

1Jennifer Downing3:15:59F42Somerville, MA
2Craig Lewin3:21:15M35Canton MA
3Laurie Craigen3:24:22F43South Boston, MA
4Bradley Rochlin3:43:08M25Boston, MA
5Adam Homoki3:43:22M38Boston, MA
6Michael Klonsky3:44:23M59Lynnfield, MA
7Liz Gray3:45:32F44Belmont, MA
8Swim Spouses (Relay) Neil Greenspan and Lynne Lawson 3:46:17MixedRhode Island
9Ryan Hawker4:00:47M46Quincy, MA
10Polly Madding4:04:24F42East Boston, MA
11Anuj Sampat4:06:13M43Waltham, MA
12Ted Hirsch4:10:35M60Hull, MA
13Sara Wolf4:20:44F52Auburn, AL
14Kim Garbarino4:26:46M63Winthrop, MA
15James Penrose (* record oldest finisher)4:28:58M69Paris, France
16Paula Yankauskas4:34:26F66Hyde Park, VT
17Alyssa Langlais4:35:19F45Merrimack, MA
18Margaret Lonergan4:56:10F31San Francisco, CA
DNFMichael Lynch5:00+M63West Roxbury, MA
Official race results of the 2021 Boston Light Swim