Swim team members and alumni from Andrew Warde and Roger Ludlowe high schools swam for their proverbial lives in a 30-hour marathon 41 years ago this weekend. The marathon, which raised $4,000 to help keep the swim teams at both schools afloat for the 1971-72 school year, set a national record of 100 miles.
The event, which was held at the Olympic-size Fairfield YMCA pool on Old Post Road, began at noon on Saturday, July 3, 1971, and ended Sunday evening, July 4, at 6 p.m., according to a front-page story which appeared in The Bridgeport Telegram, Monday, July 5, 1971 (see below).
More than 60 swimmers participated, completing the 100 miles in 28 hours and one minute. Encouraged by financial backing from townsfolk who pledged one dollar for every completed lap, the participants continued after setting the record to log 30 hours of uninterrupted swimming.
George Ford, a parent of one of the swim team members, announced at the conclusion of the event that $4,000 had been raised. However, he emphaszied that another $4,000 was needed to support the activities for the swim teams at both high schools.
"If the Board of Education approves a request for a $2,000 allocation for the program, the swim teams will be able to continue their activities in the new school year," Ford stated. As a result of sharp budget cuts, the Board of Education eliminated funds previously provided for the swim team programs.
Rather than let the program die, members of the swim teams at both high schools started the ball rolling for a fund-raising event. The marathon was the first endeavor, and other plans for raising the needed funds were in the works.
The marathon was supervised by Edward Quinn, the Ludlowe swim coach, his assistant, William Babcock, and George Reed of Warde. Mike Tierney and Bob Wilk, Ludlowe's co-captains, and Dan Ford and Mike Cardone of Warde helped organize the marathon.