Rick Belenchia will be participating in this year’s Swim Across the Sound for his fifth year. He is Captain of Seduction, a 41-foot Sundancer. As a Boat Captain, Rick’s mission is to escort one of this year’s swim teams across Long Island Sound, a 15.5-mile challenge that can take the swimmers five or more hours to complete.
“In past years, I’ve been responsible for escorting high school and college swim teams,” said Rick. “Watching these guys and gals swim across the waters I’ve been fishing all my life – it seems nuts to me – it’s quite a feat! The currents are strong, the conditions can be rough, and as a Captain, it’s my job to help them stay on course and get there safely.”
Rick has a unique view of the event from beginning to end. “The moment the swimmers step off that early-morning ferry for the start in Port Jefferson, they are pumped up, excited and gung-ho. It’s fun to watch. As soon as they hit that water, they are all business and give it 110 percent the whole way. The commitment these swimmers have amazes me year after year.”
Rick is no stranger to Long Island Sound and participating as a Boat Captain is very personal for him. “I’ve lost family members to cancer, including my grandfather who got me into boating,” Rick explains. “Years ago, when we were out on the water fishing together, we’d see marathon swimmers swim right past us. Back then, I knew I wanted to help someday if I could. Now, I’m fortunate enough to have this boat, and I’m happy to help.”
Rick’s passion for Swim Across the Sound runs much deeper than the water itself. Sadly, he’s lost several friends and family members to cancer. He knows first-hand what many families go through when faced with a cancer diagnosis, treatment and often even loss. He understands their need for the support that Swim Across the Sound can provide.
“This helps a lot of families – in ways you’ll never know,” Rick explains. “The money we raise is not going to research or staff, there is plenty of money elsewhere for that. It goes directly to people dealing with cancer and their families. It might help with a car or house payment, repairs – or even just keeping the lights on. That’s why I do it.”