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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Joe Stewart, A Catalyst For Change In The Open Water

Joe Stewart is an aquapreneur who has started a number of open water charity swims as a way to raise funds and visibility for several charitable causes.

He started the Maryland Swim for Life in 1991 as a benefit for HIV/AIDs organizations "The Maryland Swim for Life began with 1- and 2-mile swims in the Gunpowder River. It later expanded after moving to the Chester River and includes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 mile swims."

He founded the Potomac River 7.5 Mile Swim for the Environment in 1994 and ran it until 2001 when he handed over the reins to Cheryl Wagner.

After organizing the Maryland Swim for Life and Potomac River Swim for the Environment, Stewart started an Eastern Shore Marathon Swim event which moved each year to a different location. The series began with an 8-mile crossing of Eastern Bay and included an 8-mile swim around Tilghman Island, a 9-mile Poplar Island swim and the 11-mile Wye Island Swim. We also did 8- and 9-mile Chester River Eastern Shore Marathon Swims, all of which supported environmental and health efforts.

He also organized a series of swims - 4.4-mile crossings of the Patapsco River - known as Save the Patapsco, Hon! Swimmers were invited to test the river's water clarity in a celebration of the past, present and future of Baltimore's urban watershed and its historic port. "The Patapsco is a beautiful river with a proud and productive heritage, serving as home to the Port of Baltimore for 300 years. Certainly, it's been through some tough times in terms of water quality. But, with good environmental stewardship by the Port and all of the millions of people living and working in this watershed, we believe the Patapsco can look forward to a brighter, cleaner future," said Tom Filip, inspired by Stewart's energy and passion.

Like his other events where he garnered the support of numerous public agencies and private organizations, the purpose of the Save the Patapsco swim was to raise awareness of the river and collect pledge funds for urban watershed organizations.

With his legacy solidified and leadership acknowledged by many who are carrying on his passion to serve, he currently enjoys pool swimming four days a week. But the open water is constantly pulling him back. "I also spend time on weekends from April through October in the Chesapeake Bay off of North Point State Park between the mouth of Back River and Patapsco River. And I still participate in Maryland Swim for Life and Provincetown Harbor Swim for Life each summer."

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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