Next Bay Swim
News and Views
Bay Swim Founder Brian J. Earley
Brian Earley and
(March Of Dimes Central Maryland Poster Child).
Friday, June 10, 1983
Brian Earley of
Winchester on the Severn has found a way to beat the weekend traffic jam ay the Bay
Earley plans to swim across the Bay.
Actually, he will be stroking across the bay below the
bridge Sunday beginning at 1 PM for his second annual swim for the American Diabetes
Earley, whose father, Joseph, died in 1981 after suffering
22 years from diabetes, will begin the 5 mile swim from a spot along Kent Island and
finish at Sandy Point State Park.
The swim is an attempt to raise money through sponsors for
research into the disease.
Last year, Earley completed the trek in under three hours.
He hopes to break that mark this year.
Earley, a Towson State University junior, will swim
alongside a boat. He is a former Junior College All American and Athlete of the Year at
Anne Arundel Community College.
Early swims set for Sunday
| Two swimming races, the
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim and the Brian Early Chesapeake Bay swim benefit for the
American Diabetes Association, have been combined this year and will be held Sunday
beginning at 10AM. Swimmers will start at a beach next to the Bay Bridge and finish at
Hemingway's Restaurant on Kent Island. The point-to-point distance is 4.35 statute miles.
Swimming is done between the two Chesapeake Bay Bridges. The shipping lanes will be closed
from 10AM till noon to allow swimmers to pass across. In 1982, Brian Early organized the
first swim to raise money for diabetes research. The project was done as a memorial to his
father, Joseph, who died in 1981 after having diabetes for 22 years. The first swim netted
$800.00 for the Diabetes Association. In 1983 and 1984, Early swam solo crossings and
raised $2000.00 each time for diabetes research. In 1985, several additional participants
joined the swim and a total of $3000.00 was raised. This year, the diabetes swim will be
combined with the bay race. Organized three years ago by Fletcher Hanks, The Chesapeake
Bay Bridge Swim Race is a competition among athletes. Swimmers participating in the race
will be encouraged to accept pledges for the Diabetes Association. All swimmers will be
bussed to the starting point from the parking lot of Hemingway's Restaurant. More than 240
participants are expected and registration is closed. Those interested in next year's swim
may sign up at the end of the race.
Repeat of a solo Bay
June 13, 1992
One gray rainy day 10 years ago, Brian Earley set out to swim the Chesapeake Bay, as a
memorial to his father who had died months before of complications from diabetes.
It was a family affair, with his brother watching over him
from a boat, his sister soliciting funds for the American Diabetes Association and his
mother on the shore waiting anxiously for a sign of her son.
This year, as the hugely popular Chesapeake Bay Swim is
reorganized under a new charity, Mr. Earley plans to make one last solo for his father,
Joseph Earley, for diabetes research.
"I'm sorry he's not here to see how fortunate we are to
have such incredible participation on the part of all these fine people," Mr. Earley
said, his voice breaking. "My swim kind of closes out 10 years of fundraising for
diabetes and hopefully opens up another 10 years of fundraising for the March of
Mr. Earley will take off from Sandy Point State Park early
tomorrow morning, accompanied by several boats.
The official Chesapeake Bay Swim will take place Sunday,
June 28, with 600 swimmers making the 4.4-mile trek across the bay. Organized by Baltimore
businessman Chuck Nabit, the swim will begin at 8:30 a.m., with all proceeds going to the
March of Dimes.
Now a resident of San Diego, Mr. Earley has come back each
year for the swim, which has grown exponentially over the years until it reached a peak of
almost 900 swimmers last year.
Last year's swim, however, turned into a full-fledged rescue
operation, after strong currents pulled the swimmers off-course and they had to be plucked
one by one from the water.
The Coast Guard initially denied the organizer a permit for
a swim this year, but eventually granted one to Mr. Nabit, a member of the board of
directors for the March of Dimes.
Because of the uncertainty of the event, Mr. Earley had made
plans several months ago to return to Annapolis for a solo swim, in order to keep the race
and the memory of his father alive.
"I don't want to take anything away from Chuck Nabit's
swim," he hastens to add. "Whether it's for the March of Dimes, diabetes or
multiple sclerosis, as long as it's a viable charity, people should be open to it. I just
think if we're healthy enough to exercise, we might as well spend a little bit of time
helping those who can't."
This 10th anniversary swim will be much like the first, with
his brother in a boat, watching out for passing boaters, his sister raising funds and his
mother on the shore, waiting and worrying.
He's looking forward to the event, a challenge even in the
best of conditions.
"It's quite a battle out there, very similar to the
battle anyone with a disease has," he said.
And he's hoping that with the emphasis back on the
fund-raising aspect of the swim, that some good will come of it.
"We had lost some of the aspect of fund-raising. I was
kind of saddened by that," he said. "Sometimes in life you don't know what
matters but then you find something that does. For some reason, this swim does."
||Swimmimg alum Brian Earley
praises Towson as he braves stormy Chesapeake
| Every year, Brian Earley
makes his pilgrimage to Annapolis to swim in the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, a race he
started in 1982 as a young varsity swimmer at Towson State. Crossing the watery path the
British followed in their attempt to take over Fort McHenry, Earley faces volatile tides,
rapid currents and freezing temperatures to swim the course that weaves between the twin
Bay Bridge spans connecting Annapolis with Kent Island. He began this race as a tribute to
"When I was a junior at Towson State, my dad died of complications from a 26-year
struggle with diabetes. Suddenly, he was gone, and I wanted to show my appreciation by
using the only real power I had: my physical and mental power," explains Earley. He
arrived at the idea for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, a race he believed would attract
attention, raise awareness and help raise precious dollars for diabetes research. So, he
called the local newspaper, the Coast Guard and the American Diabetes Association and
convinced them to let him try it. The first year, he swam alone.
In later years, the race expanded to include 10 swimmers and
in 1985, marathon organizer Charles Nabit took over, opening the race to anyone who wanted
to take on the Chesapeake, subject to physical qualifications. This year, Earley was
joined by 600 men and women aged 16 - 70 from 22 states who braved the Bay in June. The
group raised over $28,000. Over half a million dollars have been raised for the American
Diabetes Association and the March of Dimes since 1982.
"This is no walkathon," admits Earley, but he
adds, "The whole concept is a struggle for a couple of hours that mirrors the
struggle of someone with a disability." The race is never rescheduled. Swimmers take
what the Bay gives them on that day. Rita Sellers, a volunteer who assists Charles Nabit,
points out the importance of technology in planning. "Without the help of the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Coast Guard, there
would be no swim," she says. NOAA, along with the National Weather Service, predicts
slack tides when it is safest to cross, and the Coast Guard is on hand to rescue swimmers
who become exhausted or hypothermic. Kayakers skim the water, shouting encouragement to
the athletes and a team of volunteers waits on the shore with refreshments. Sellers
recalls with a chuckle, "When swimmers first get out of the water, I know it's hard
to believe, but they often want a glass of water...without the salt!" All in all,
about 1000 volunteers pitch in to sponsor the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim each year.
Earley asserts that his swimming training at Towson was an
integral part of his successes. "The reason I could take on five miles of choppy,
stormy water was the swimming program at Towson. The Bay is about 8,000 to 9,000 yards
wide, which was the typical length of a swim team practice," he explains.
He describes Coach Ray Riordan as someone to trust and one
who instilled the values of discipline and hard work. During a successful swimming career
at TSU in 1982, Earley set school records in the 100 and 200 butterfly, 400 yard medley
relay and 400 yard freestyle relay. The 400 yard medley relay record represents one of the
top three finishes ever for the university; the 400 yard freestyle relay, a record set at
the Eastern Seaboard Championships in West Point with fellow athletes John Reister, Glynn
McKenzie and Jorge Ferrer, remains unbroken.
The qualities of discipline and teamwork learned on the swim
team help him daily in his position as a senior membership representative at the Greater
San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Earley retains strong ties with the university, having
returned for the 30th swimming alumni reunion celebration this fall. He also represented
Towson University at the inauguration of San Diego State University's new president.
"I am very proud of Brian," asserts Riordan. "He is a tenacious swimmer and
tenacious in life."