Green Whales, Inc. will be hosting an informational brunch Sunday, March 31 to discuss the return of the Around the Island Swim and the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival planned for July 14. The race around Absecon Island will honor former New Jersey Senator, Atlantic City Mayor and teacher, Atlantic City Beach Patrol Captain and beloved Atlantic City High School Swim Coach Jim Whelan.
Organizers are asking those who want to swim around the island, live in homes along the back bay or simply want to volunteer during the July 14 race to attend the free brunch, which will be held noon-2 p.m. Sunday, March 31 at the Wonder Bar, 3701 Sunset Ave. in Atlantic City.
The Around the Island Marathon Swim, which started in 1954 with two lifeguards, fell by the wayside for many years, but Whelan helped bring it back as an international event. A lack of funding to attract professional international swimmers contributed to its demise in 2006, but the local swimming community is reviving the event to attract international swimmers and new corporate sponsorship.
Proceeds from the July 14 festival will help fund Whelan’s Whales, a program that formed in 2017 by owners and staff at the Brigantine Aquatic Club after Whelan passed away suddenly. Whelan’s Whales offers free swim lessons and water safety training for the children of Atlantic City and reflects Whelan’s belief that all children living in coastal areas should learn to swim and be safe in the ocean.
Green Whales welcomes questions about the festival on its Facebook page, titled, Jim Whelan Around the Island Swim/Open Water Festival.