Swim Across America gears up for seventh local event

Participants in last year’s Swim Across America dry off in the sun. This year’s event is set for June 22 to benefit the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy.

Participants in last year’s Swim Across America dry off in the sun. This year’s event is set for June 22 to benefit the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy.

The annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Open Water Swim is hoping to make a big splash for cancer research, prevention and treatment on June 22 and swimmers of all levels are invited to participate.

Swim Across America holds numerous swimming events throughout the United States each year. Swimmers, boaters, kayakers and land volunteers are encouraged to pre-register at swimacrossamerica.org/greenwich to reserve their spot or register a team.

There are several different swim options including a half-mile or a one and one-half mile swim, or a three- or five-mile challenge. For those that prefer the comfort of a pool or have a conflict with the date, money can still be raised by becoming a “virtual awimmer” and participants may swim any distance at their own convenience.

This is the seventh year the swim has been held in Greenwich-Stamford and it benefits the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to funding cancer cell and gene therapy research. ACGT is headquartered on the Greenwich/Stamford border and serves as the start and finish line for the swim.

Swim Across America has been making waves in the fight against cancer for 26 years. While Swim Across America is a national organization, and hosts dozens of swims from Boston Harbor to under the Golden Gate Bridge, its roots are firmly anchored in Connecticut and along the Long Island Sound shore. Darien, resident Matt Vossler, and his lifelong friend and college roommate Jeff Keith founded the organization in 1987.

The 2013 Greenwich-Stamford Swim will unite recreational swimmers, competitive swimmers, master swimmers, Olympians, kayakers, boaters and hundreds of volunteers all committed to pursuing a cure for this devastating disease. Swimming this year are teams from throughout the tri-state area and even some from as far away as Tucson, Ariz.

“Every year, we are amazed by the heroic individuals and groups that swim in honor of a loved one or friend,” said Janel Jorgensen McArdle, president of Swim Across America. “This year we are encouraged to see even more people swimming for someone they love, and are also incredibly moved by the large number of cancer survivors we have participating.”

“Peter’s Defeaters” team, headed by Peter Carlson of Riverside has a team member June Hussey, that travels from Tucson, Ariz., to participate. Ms. Hussey swims and raises money in the fight against cancer because she has several friends that are currently battling cancer and she has also sadly lost friends to the disease.

“I think nearly everybody has shared this experience,” said Ms. Hussey, who in addition to being a team member is Mr. Carlson’s sister. “I also know survivors. We need more of them. That’s why I swim and I think that’s also why Swim Across America has garnered so much support. Cancer touches everyone in some way. It’s easy to feel helpless where cancer is concerned, but it feels better to do something, than to sit back and do nothing. Every dollar we raise is helping Swim Across America turn the tide against cancer.”

The “CHEMhOes” team, made up of current and former Greenwich High School swim and water polo team members, swim in honor of fellow teammate and 2010 GHS graduate Brooke Lorenz. Brooke swam in her first ever Swim Across America event in 2010 after graduating high school; however, her future took a different turn when just before she was scheduled to start college, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She has undergone successful treatment and is now healthy and happy to be swimming again for the fourth time in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event.

In addition to the team CHEMhOes swimming in the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event, Brooke’s sister has created a Team CHEMhOes on the West Coast and they swim in the Swim Across America San Francisco event in Brooke’s honor. Brooke is incredibly thankful for events like Swim Across America that help fund the kind of treatment she was able to receive.

Brooke’s friend Jimmy O’Sullivan, age 18, of Old Greenwich, swims with team CHEMhOes.

“Today I swim in honor of Brooke — my inspirational friend who taught me how to fight while still keeping a smile on my face,” Jimmy said. “I also realize that not everyone is as fortunate as Brooke, which is why I am also swimming in memory of the man I was named for — my Uncle Jimmy. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet my uncle because he died 20 years ago from colon cancer. Ultimately, I swim because I know I can make a difference, and I know that every bit of research is a stride toward putting an end to this disease.”

Locally, the Greenwich-Stamford Swims have raised a total of $1.4 million for the Connecticut beneficiary, ACGT. Nationally, Swim Across America has raised more than $45 million for cancer research, prevention and treatment.

Each participant in the half-mile and one and a half mile swims are required to raise a minimum of $500 (swimmers under the age of 18 have a $300 minimum); swimmers in the three-mile challenge must raise $1,500, and those in the five-mile challenge must raise $5,000.

Volunteer opportunities for boaters, kayakers and land volunteers are also available.

For more information, visit SwimAcrossAmerica.org or email Jacque Lang at [email protected] or call 888-SWIM-USA or 203-438-0313.

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