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Pear, Sawyer complete Swim Around Key West

By Staff | Jun 22, 2016

Even for avid distance swimmers like Thomas Pear and Bill Sawyer, Saturday’s 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West was the most difficult of the four times they have participated.

“It was really tough this year,” said Pear, a professor at Hodges University and part-time Cape Coral resident. “We had to swim against the current this time. I had the slowest time I ever had, but so did everybody. We just hit the current wrong.”

At least Sawyer, a Sanibel resident, brought home a first-place trophy (a conch shell) for his 55-59 age group.

“He trained really hard and swam well,” said Pear. “For the first time I saw a shark, but I was told it was a nurse shark. It was about three feet under me, docile, lying on the bottom. I was really glad to get away from it.”

Why do they do it? To help support a Haven of Hope International orphanage in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This is the third year they have made the swim to raise funds for the orphanage.

In past years, Pear and Sawyer raised money to help the orphanage complete a dormitory building to house boys, who had to be located at other orphanages until the building was completed. Now, the boys are reunited with their sisters.

Funds also are used to feed and clothe the children. This year’s funds will be used to acquire warm clothing for the winter and provide dental care.

“Since we started we’ve raised more than $6,000 for them,” said Pear.

Donations can be made in any amount online, or for as little as $1 per mile ($12 total) to support the swimmers at www.havenofhopeintl.org.

The orphanage also is planning some expansion. They are renovating an old building to be a library and study hall and a second building for offices and counseling services.

Overall, the orphanage has helped more than 335 children since its opening in 2004.