For the 23rd year, Hopatcong resident Bill Bulger swam Lake Hopatcong to raise money for charity—and this year, on Bulger’s 66th birthday, two of his grandsons dove in for the final stretch. “They swam great,” Bulger said afterwards of Bobby Winegar, 8, and Billy Bulger, 13. “I’m really proud of them.” The annual swim—which this year covered more than four miles and lasted five hours, from the Jefferson House to Kabob’s at the Northwood Inn—raises money for charity, and this year the proceeds went to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Bulger and his family won’t know how much was raised this year on behalf of the event until all of the donations come in, but last year he brought in more than $5,300, and over the years he’s raised an estimated $150,000 for various charities, including the Ronald McDonald House and the Lupus Foundation of America. “For somebody to be able to do this all for charity, it’s really all about his good heart,” said Bulger’s son-in-law, Robert Winegar, who owns Kabob’s. “He does it for the kids. That’s all it’s about for him.” His own children and grandchildren were gathered around his swim in motorboats and on the dock at Kabob’s, awaiting his arrival. Billy Bulger, who joined him for the last stretch from Raccoon Island to the end, said he enjoyed joining his grandfather for the second time on the swim. “He gave us a lot of encouragement,” he said. In the past, Bulger has done longer swims around Lake Hopatcong, including a 24-hour swim and a run-swim-rowboat-bike event. For the last three years, since Winegar and Bulger’s daughter bought Kabob’s, the swim has ended at the Henderson Cove restaurant. After he emerged from the lake at 5 p.m. on Friday, and Winegar handed him a glass of Irish whiskey, he said he felt great. “It was a little too cold this year,” he said, adding that he tried putting on a wetsuit, but found that he was less comfortable with it on. When asked if he got out of the water to make the change, he replied with an emphatic “no.” “That wouldn’t be pure,” he said. “I eat in the water—I don’t get out until the route is complete.” As for training, Bulger said he swims on the lake all the time, and created a makeshift swim machine at home—but that much of his practice comes from swimming with children and grandchildren on his back. “You have to work every muscle of your body for this,” he said. “But I’m more at home in the water than on land, so it works.” Jayne Bender, a longtime friend from Hopatcong, waited at Kabob’s to give Bulger a hug when he walked ashore, “We’ve been through this over and over again with Bill,” she said. “We donate to the causes he works for. It’s just a wonderful thing, and we have a wonderful community.” Joe Biglan of Flanders, who sings with the Irish Harpers (and Bulger), said he’s been coming to the swims the last several years to support Bulger. “How could you not like Bill? He’s such a great person, and has such a lovely family. It’s just great to be here and enjoy the scene.” Those interested in donating can visit www.stjude.org , 800-805-5856, or send a check to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital c/o Bill Bulger, 106 Camp Trail, Andover, NJ 07821.