Winthrop resident Kim Garbarino will be doing something on Saturday that he’s been doing his whole life: swimming.
But it’s the length of his swim that has people taking notice. Beginning at 1 p.m. at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA of the North Shore, Garbarino will swim for 24 hours in the pool to raise funds for the Annual Campaign that directly supports the Y’s financial assistance program.
The financial program ensures everyone in the community can participate in YMCA programs, including swim lessons for kids and families, regardless of their ability to pay.
For the past three years, Garbarino, 56, trained tirelessly at the YMCA in preparation for his long-time goal of swimming the English Channel. As part of his training, Kim would swim non-stop for 5-6 hours a day in the pool.
In October, 2012, Garbarino flew to England, entered the water on the morning of August 12 and swam 34 miles across the English Channel in 15 hours and 37 minutes. He arrived in Wissant, France, achieving a goal he held for 44 years.
“It was my goal my whole life to swim the English Channel,” said Garbarino.
Garbarino captivated members from the YMCA of the North Shore swim team with the story of his exploits. The message he gave to the young members of the team was, “Follow your passion and never give up.”
When asked if he would be interested in doing something to help kick off the YMCA’s 2014 Annual Campaign, he thought, “What can I do to raise awareness about the importance of swimming lessons for kids?” Kim’s Swim was born.
“As a swimmer, I believe any child who lives in a community near the water should learn how to swim,” said Garbarino. Every summer everybody hears about the young child, the young kid that drowns. Every time I hear something like that I think how preventable drowning is if a kid can just learn the basics of swimming.”
Garbarino resides in Winthrop with his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Jillian, a junior at Salem State University. He is a graduate of Lynn English High School and Salem State University where he received a degree in Criminal Justice. He is a probation officer at Lynn District Court.
A former New England Golden Gloves boxing finalist, Garbarino began swimming at the age of six at the Lynn YMCA.
“I joined the Y and used to swim all day,” recalled Garbarino. “I started doing long distance swims off of Lynn Beach when I was 10.”
Garbarino won the New England Weightlifting Championships in 1980, winning several title during his 21 years of competitions.
In 2007, Garbarino participated in the Boston Light Swim, an eight-mile event. He swam 16 miles in the event on two occasions, completing the course in approximately seven hours. Garbarino also competes annually in the Five Sisters Swim on Winthrop Beach organized by Warren MacPhail.
Garbarino is excited about Saturday’s 24-hour swim.
“I hope to raise thousands of dollars for the YMCA and help children learn how to swim,” said Garbarino. “I’m taking this endeavor very seriously.”
Even though Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday and the clocks will be moved ahead one hour, Garbarino said he still intends to swim the full 24 hours.