Nancy Saipe of Westport will be among those taking part in Swim Across the Sound on Saturday. / Contributed photo.
Nancy Saipe of Westport will be among those taking part in Swim Across the Sound on Saturday. / Contributed photo.

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — Before sunrise Saturday, Nancy Saipe will be on a ferry from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson, Long Island.

Once there, she’ll put on a bathing suit, swim cap, goggles and sea lice repellant, and start swimming back toward Connecticut.

Saipe is one of the 108 athletes taking part in St. Vincent Medical Center’s Swim Across the Sound. The fundraising event is in its 35th year.

This is the first time for Saipe.

“I’m out of my comfort zone,” she said Friday. “I’m so excited, and so nervous.”

The lifelong Westporter has always liked to swim, but remembers that in the days before Title 9, there was a swim team for boys in high school, but not girls.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she found outdoor swimming a good way to have social interaction safely, and get exercise as well. She’s also is an avid pickleball player, and likes to bicycle and hike.

A swimmer and escort boat at last summer’s Swim Across the Sound. / Contributed photo.

The Swim Across the Sound event includes solo swimmers, who do the entire 15.5 miles across Long Island Sound on their own, as well as relay teams, with members taking turns traversing the Sound.

Saipe is on a relay team.

“Depending on the waves and how fast everybody goes, I could be in three or four times,” she said. “I’m definitely the slow link on the team.”

Saipe has a fundraising page for the event.

Swim Across the Sound raises money to help cancer patients cover treatment costs. Saipe says on her page she’s taking part to honor several friends and family members recently affected by cancer.

Thane Grauel, the Westport Journal executive editor, grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond more than three decades. Learn more about us here.