By Carol McCracken
Although she finished back in the pack of swimmers in the 27th annual Peaks Island to Portland swim, Jennifer Rooks was a winner nevertheless. Rooks, 42, the mother of two and a longtime local television anchor, swam for the first time ever in the benefit. “I’d do it again.” said Rooks, energized by the experience. Supporting her were her two children, Sam and Julia, and her parents. “I did better than I expected,” said Rooks, grinning broadly.
The actual first place winner in the fund raising event was Joseph Sheeham. Sheehan, 37, finished the 2.4 mile course in just over 42 minutes. He could not be located among the more than 500 onlookers and 180 swimmers at the East End Beach. (One swimmer had to be taken aboard a boat and was unable to complete the race, leaving the actual number who finished the race at 179.) “They are all winners to me, no matter where they finish,” said Terry Swann, aquatics director, of the YMCA.
Swann, who stood on the East End Beach, waving swimmers ashore with her hands and a welcoming – ‘good job, Amy,” said she knew many of the participants personally because they swim at the YMCA regularly where she is the aquatics director. “It’s smooth out there. There’s no wind and no one is getting burned up by the sun,” Swann said looking out at Casco Bay. It was overcast during most of the swim. “The tide didn’t come in as far as I’d hoped,” said Terry. “The exhausted swimmers would have had a shorter distance than the estimated 30 feet to walk to the finish line,” an unidentified volunteer completed the thought for the MHN. (She was one of 65 volunteers for the day).
Meanwhile, medical teams were waiting at the back of the East End Beach should anyone require assistance. Dr. Max Jacobs, a chiropractor in private practice on St. John Street, said, “These swimmers were in amazingly good shape. They had no problems getting out of the water. But I expect they will be feeling some aches and pains tomorrow.” The injuries were limited to a few sore shoulders and some cuts and bruises according to the medical team on site.
The proceeds of this annual swim will go toward the YMCA scholarship fund. “Terry does a great organizing job, said Hildy Ginsberg, director of the YMCA. “She deserves tons of credit,” said Ginsberg.