The Islesboro Crossing for LifeFlight, an open water fundraising swim, has been steadily growing since it started in 2013.

At this year’s event, nearly 100 swimmers and their paddler escorts made the 3.1-mile journey Aug. 20 across Penobscot Bay from Point Lookout Resort in Northport to the island community of Islesboro. In the process, they raised more than $160,000 to support Maine’s only helicopter critical care transport service.

Proceeds from the 2016 Islesboro Crossing will support LifeFlight’s advanced training and education programs across the state.

When a person is seriously hurt or sick in rural Maine, a whole system of emergency medical providers is there to help. That system needs to be as strong as possible to make sure patients everywhere get the care they need, when they need it. LifeFlight provides training and education to dispatchers, first responders, paramedics and emergency room staff to strengthen Maine’s entire network of EMS providers, according to information provided by LifeFlight.

The group of swimmers who came together for this year’s event was enthusiastic and diverse, with many personal connections to LifeFlight. There was an 81-year-old lighthouse keeper, a mother whose 12-year-old daughter was escorted by LifeFlight when she was just 5 years old, a husband whose wife was taken by LifeFlight after a plane crash, a TV producer who survived a brain aneurysm thanks to a LifeFlight transport. There were competitive long distance swimmers and regular people who wanted to challenge themselves, physically or mentally. There was a father whose daughter was transported by LifeFlight for a liver transplant, and a mother whose young daughter didn’t survive even after she was taken to the hospital by the LifeFlight helicopter. They were all united in their love of swimming and the Maine outdoors, and their commitment to supporting the critical service LifeFlight provides to rural communities everywhere in the state.