Faces Of Nantucket - Jim Meehan

Charity Grace Mofsen •

Jim Meehan 3
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen


Imagine living on an island and not knowing how to swim? That's an uncomfortable reality for many people on Nantucket. But that's where Jim Meehan comes in. Nearly 10 years ago, Meehan volunteered to start the Nantucket Community School's "learn to swim" program for adults. He and a group of volunteers since taught more than 250 island residents how to swim at the Nantucket community pool.

"It's a joyous process," Meehan told the Current. "We have a lot of fun."

Many of his adult students are mothers who are often at the beach with their kids and worried about what they would do if something happened in the water. Many others are immigrants from countries where they haven't had the opportunity to swim regularly. Swimmers are paired with committed volunteers over about a month, with two sessions in the spring, and one in the fall.

"They overcome that fear," Meehan said. "It's brave of these people to take on this challenge as an adult, to learn something new. When it’s our last day, we gather around the deep end and jump into the pool together."

For Meehan, who moved to the island year-round in 2015, the experience has been fulfilling beyond his expectations. 

"It's expanded my community," he said. "I've made a lot of friends on the island I normally wouldn't interact with."

Jim first stepped foot on Nantucket in May of 1979 for his honeymoon, but it was not love at first sight. “Why would anybody ever go out there?” he remembers saying, as it was cold and raining the entire visit.

Fast forward to the 2012 Nantucket Triathlon, and Meehan got another taste of the island. Soon he was on his way to becoming a year-round resident. An avid swimmer since childhood, he quickly started an open-water swimming group as part of the local triathlon club, and then the adult learn to swim program.

When asked what his favorite thing about Nantucket is, Meehan admits it’s the classic answer: “The people. It’s a great community with very diverse, interesting people-people – sometimes quirky.” That small-town feeling is what attracted both Jim and his wife.

His next big project? Expanding the program to our high school students to make sure that when they graduate from NHS, they know how to swim.

Jim Meehan 4

Faces of Nantucket is our new portrait series by Nantucket Current contributor Charity Grace Mofsen spotlighting members of the island community who make it a better place to live, work, and play. We’ll be sharing a new edition each Friday. Do you have someone you’d like to nominate for this series? Email us at nantucketcurrent@n-magazine.com

Loading Ad
Loading Ad
Loading Ad

Current People