The Maggie Fischer Memorial Great South Bay Cross Bay Swim is set for Friday, July 9, at 6:30 a.m.

Although COVID-19 might present unique challenges to this year’s event, the pandemic will not stop swimmers from crossing 5.5-miles of open water from the Fire Island Lighthouse to Gilbert Park in Brightwaters.

Here’s a little history about the significance of the Cross Bay Swim:

The race began back in 1927, a year after Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English channel.

Since then, the race has grown from 10-15 swimmers to now around 120.

In 1999, the cross-bay swim was named after 17-year-old Maggie Fischer, a senior at St. Anthony’s High School who lived in Brightwaters and worked as a lifeguard at Saltaire.

She was training for the swim before dying in a car accident days before the race. Today her parents, Bob and Mary Fischer, run the event.

Registration for the 2021 Cross Bay Swim is March 27 at noon and due to COVID restrictions, the committee will only accept registrations from 110 swimmers on-line.

Sign-up information can be found here.

The date and time for the event is the earliest the 90-year-old tradition has ever been held. The tide is also predicted to be at full flood at the start of the race.

“We expect a very competitive field of athletes and record-breaking times are possible,” the swim committee said in its official announcement.

Each year, the race raises money for Hospice Care Network Children’s Bereavement Fund and $68,000 was raised in 2020.

There will be some challenging logistic and navigational issues this year, so the Great South Bay Swim committee has provided a full document of guidelines here.

“We look forward to welcoming our athletes, volunteers, families, and supporters back to the Great South Bay for the continuation of this nearly 100-year tradition that has survived wars, hurricanes, and now a pandemic,” the committee said.

2017 swim file photo by Benny Migliorino of Benny Migs Photo.