By Cary Shuman
On land, in the air, or by the sea, Jamie Crowley of Winthrop feels right at home.
Crowley, an airplane pilot for American Airlines, displayed his remarkable skill and endurance once again in the Point Shirley Athletic Club (PSAC) Annual Five Sisters Swim Saturday. Crowley finished in first place in the 2.4-mile swim, besting a field of 15 swimmers in a time of 58 minutes, 20 seconds. It was Crowleyâ€™s ninth year in a row in the winnerâ€™s circle.
Marblehead resident Mike Richardson-Bach, a silver medalist in rowing at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, finished second in 1:04:35, while Winthrop resident Paul Carruccio was third in 1:04:55.
The handsome, 6-foot-1-inch Crowley, a former high school football star, attributes his success at long distance swimming to his training and his genetics.
â€œA lot of it may have to do with the endurance training that my wife [Tara] and I do at the MIT Pool,â€ said Crowley, 40. â€œIt may be in my genes, too. My cousin swims for the University of Texas and competes against Michael Phelps. My uncle was a great long distance runner for the University of Evansville. And my brother just won a triathlon last weekend.â€
Crowleyâ€™s wife is also an outstanding athlete and a prolific long distance swimmer. Tara Crowley finished second in the womenâ€™s division of the 2.4-mile swim in a time of 1:11:45. Mary Phelan took top honors in 1:10:10. Michelle DeBonis, at age 10 the youngest-ever swimmer in the event, finished the 1.2-mile event in 48:23.
Jamie Crowley, who also competes in iron man triathlons with his wife, credited the Five Sisters Swim organizing committee for an outstanding effort. â€˜This is the best race ever,â€ said Crowley. â€œThese guys put on a great race. Iâ€™ll participate in this swim as long as they have it.â€
Warren MacPhail, an organizer of the event with PSAC President Art Gray and Shane Sherwood, said the first Five Sisters Swim was held in Winthrop 15 years ago.
â€œBob Sarro and Dave Cochrane started the event 15 years on a Sunday â€“ actually there was a hurricane, but they finished the race,â€ said MacPhail.
Sarro competed in his 15th consecutive swim Saturday, covering the 1.2-mile course in a time of 42 minutes, 11 seconds. Sue Cochrane honored her husband Daveâ€™s memory as a participant in the event.
Sherwood said that Massport contributed $2,000 toward this yearâ€™s event and the PSAC Fall Road Race that will be held on Sept. 12.
MacPhail thanked Town Harbormaster Chucky Famolare and his staff for insuring a safe swim in the Winthrop waters.