Article and Photos by Zarah Kavarana
Early on Sunday, July 14, the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club was flooded with swimmers of all ages who were eager to jump in the pool and swim to raise money for the grassroots organization, Swim Across America.
The event helped raise both money and awareness for cancer research, prevention, and treatment. This was Swim Across America’s second year hosting the event at the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. In 2012, the event raised $30K, which made it the third most successful Swim Across America event in the New York area. According to Media Chair, Jean Fufidio, the total amount raised for this year is currently in the process of being tallied, but the number is already well over last year’s mark.
Swim Across America, Inc. was originally founded in 1987. Through the years, it has united and attracted over 5,000 recreational and competitive swimmers, Olympians, kayakers, boaters, and volunteers in the fight against cancer. Today, it offers 50 swims in 14 different states with multiple chapters. Swim Across America has raised more than $40 million, which has ultimately gone toward research and prevention programs at some of America’s most well regarded hospitals and managed-care facilities.
Silver medalist in the 1976 Olympics and volunteer coach, Bobby Hackett, highlighted the benefits of the event.
He said, “It’s a community getting together for a cause and everybody here knows somebody who has directly or indirectly been impacted by cancer. For me, it’s an opportunity to give back and raise some funds to hopefully make peoples lives better.”
To describe Swim Across America, Fufido said, “Swim Across America is a community-minded organization where it’s national in scope, but local in heart.”
The Long Island Sound Chapter, which includes a large number of Westchester County members, is now the largest in the organization and has raised over
$12 million since its start in 1992. In 2012 alone, it raised $1 million with support from its community. The chapter has a goal of raising $1.2 million this year.
Swimmers had options to fit their comfort and experience levels. They could swim one mile or half a mile, individually or with a team.
Participants came out for a variety of reasons, ultimately uniting together against cancer.
19 year-old Henry Simon decided to take part as a tribute to his father, David Simon, who died of cancer in 2007.
He said, “It really started when Coach Dan brought Swim Across America to the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. He asked me if it was okay making a Team Karen and David because my Dad was a big part of this club when he was still alive, and a lot of kids knew him. I really just do it in honor of him so that everyone doesn’t forget and remembers that it [cancer] touches everyone, not just a few people.”
10 year-old Joseph Weiner also participated for the ones he has loved and lost.
“The event helps raise money to help fight cancer and people I know have died from having that and it’s really sad. I do the best I can to help.”
Following the event was a free swim clinic from former Olympic swimmer and Katonah resident, Bobby Hackett. He worked with attendees, giving them helpful tips that would greater improve their skills. Hackett would first explain, then demonstrate the hint, and call a few swimmers at a time into the water to try out what they were just taught.
Complimentary food and beverages were available throughout the event, and a kiddie pool was open for the little ones. Medals, t-shirts, and beach towels were given to those who participated.
Many of those who could not or chose not to swim made a pledge to the Swim Across America website: www.swimacrossamerica.org. Inside Chappaqua readers are also encouraged to donate what they can to this influential cause.