By Richard Mintzer
Swimmers of all ages hit the water early on Sunday to take part in the third annual Swim Across America at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. The money raised–close to $40,000 was anticipated at this posting–goes for cancer research, prevention and treatment.
The event had been held locally at the Orienta Swim Club in Mamaroneck for three years before interest grew in Chappaqua.
“There was so much interest from our own community that we brought it here and so many people participated,” explained Dan Levy, team captain and head swim coach at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club, who also lost his sister to cancer. “It’s not only the kids swimming, but you see adults jumping in and joining them,” added Levy.
Participants have the option of swimming a full mile (64 laps) or a half mile (32 laps) and can take breaks as necessary. Wyatt Yates, turning 12 next week, swam two miles in the early hours of Sunday morning. “It’s not really hard when you think about it. You just have to tell yourself to keep on swimming and it’s over really fast. I took a short break in-between the miles,” said Yates, a Chappaqua resident, whose older sister Madison, and mom Carrie, also swam.
“We have Jada 6, Kiara 8 and Lucca 10” noted a proud Maija Cekic while sitting poolside and keeping score of her girls’ laps while dad, Raseko, also cheered them on. “We were telling them that it’s a great cause and we encouraged them to do it, plus they love swimming” added mom as her daughters popped out of the water to ask how many laps they were up to.
Also ready to jump into the pool was Katonah resident Bobby Hackett, who won the silver medal in the 1500 meter freestyle at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Hackett, who also ran a free swim clinic during the morning, grew up in Yonkers.
“We all know people who are affected by cancer or have passed on, so it’s a very important cause” said Hackett, who also helps coach the Marlin’s swim team at the Boys and Girls Club in Mount Kisco. “It’s good for me to stay in shape, help some of the kids with their strokes and it’s a great way to start a Sunday,” added the former Olympian before jumping in.
Many participants were swimming in memory of loved ones who had battled cancer or to honor those who are battling it now. For some of them, it was their first time swimming these distances and they were encouraged by enthusiastic parents, volunteers and spectators.
All participants were encouraged to bring in photos or mementos to put on display and celebrate the lives of family members and friends who have passed away from various forms of cancer. The Swim Across America banner also became a “message board” for everyone to write a special message regarding their loved ones.
Outside the club’s outdoor 25-meter heated pool, swimmers, volunteers and spectators were able to enjoy a variety of refreshments from smoked salmon to pastries and sweets donated by a wide array of sponsors from Le Jardin du Roi and the Healthy Choice Apothecary, to Carolyn Simpson/DoubleVision Photography and the Mango Café in Mount Kisco plus the hosting Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club; a number of private individuals also contributed to the event.
This year, with nearly $30,000 raised even prior to the big day, it is anticipated that the total proceeds from the event would top the $38,000 raised last year in Chappaqua for Swim Across America, Inc., which hosts nearly 50 swims in 14 states, raising millions of dollars for cancer research and prevention programs at the country’s finest hospitals and managed-care facilities. Donations may still be made here.
Photos by Henry Lee