YMCA promotes Milford Oyster Mile, swimming event

George Hunihan was just 15 when he swam his way to win the title of Milford's Annual Cross Harbor Open Swim from Gulf Beach to Silver Beach back in 1970.

That once-popular Milford Rec Department event is making a comeback on Aug. 17 when the Woodruff Family YMCA hosts the Milford Oyster Mile, an open water swim starting and ending at Walnut Beach with a swim going around Charles Island.

When registration opened, the first one to sign up was Hunihan, looking to defend his title after a 41-year hiatus. The Milford resident, a life-long open water swimmer, is two thirds of the way toward completing the Triple Crown of swimming.  He has already traversed the English Channel and Alcatraz. That only leaves California's Catalina Island, which he plans to complete later this year.

Hunihan was instrumental is reviving the open water swim — an annual event that once drew participants from far and wide to Milford from the 1950s to early 1980s.

Now on the Board of Directors of the Woodruff Y where he is a member of the Masters swim team, Hunihan hopes the event will gain traction with young people, many of whom will be participating in a second Y-sponsored event that day — the Charles Island Triathlon. Swimmers in that event will also begin at Walnut Beach, where they will take part in a quarter mile swim, a 12-mile bike race and a three-mile run. Both events coincide with the Milford Oyster Festival.

Touting swimming as the best cardiovascular form of exercise, Hunihan says he likes the solitude of the sport that has kept him fit mentally and physically for the past 40 years. He was a member of the Notre Dame of Fairfield swim team in high school and still spends every Saturday morning in the water off Gulf Beach.

“I get into a zone when I'm swimming,” he said.

Hunihan advises those who think they may want to take part in this year's swim to be sure they can swim a mile in 45 minutes.

“It’s not an event for beginners,” he said.

To register online, go to Trifind.com.

Start time for the Milford Oyster Mile is 8:30 a.m. and the registration is $50. The triathlon begins at 8 a.m.