Spectators cheer on swimmers as they run toward the finish line on East End Beach during the 2019 Peaks to Portland swim. The 2.4-mile swim – a fundraiser for the YMCA – will be a virtual event this year. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The annual Peaks to Portland open water swim is shifting to a virtual format for 2020.

The decision to cancel the regular 2.4-mile swim from Peaks Island to Portland’s East End Beach was announced Wednesday by the YMCA of Southern Maine, which has used the event as a major fundraiser for its programs since reviving the swim in 1982. This year’s race was scheduled for July 25, but state regulations about public events because of the coronavirus pandemic forced the race to go virtual.

Last summer, the 38th annual event drew almost 450 swimmers who raced across Casco Bay and raised approximately $200,000 for the Y’s youth programs.

This year, swimmers will be able to swim 2.4 miles over a 25-day period from July 1-25. Swimmers can break the distance into multiple swims, or do it all at once as they would have in the actual race. They also can swim in any body of water, including a pool.

Fundraising is still a critical part of the event, with each swimmer pledging to either donate directly or raise at least the $125 registration fee. Swimmers who have already registered and have either paid or raised $125 or more have been automatically preregistered for the virtual event. If a swimmer has already registered but has not paid or raised $125, they have until July 19 to meet the fundraising minimum. If the minimum is not met by July 19, their credit card will be charged the difference between the amount raised and $125.

Swimmers who do not wish to participate in the virtual event can choose to donate their registration fee or request a refund prior to June 1 by contacting [email protected] Refunds will be provided if requested before June 1.

More information is available at peakstoportland.com.

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