On Sept. 7, Wesleyan men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams participated in the fourth annual Swim Across America (SAA), held in Narragansett, R.I. at Roger Wheeler State Beach to help make waves in the fight against cancer and raise money for cancer research and the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island.
Wesleyan swimmers and divers raised $12,782, which almost doubled the $7,500 amount the teams raised last year. Despite not being able to swim in the event because of the jellyfish, Liyan Yao ’16 from Laurel Hollow, N.Y., was Wesleyan’s top fundraiser, accounting for $935. In all, a record-setting $153,210.28 was raised by all the swimmers in the event. SAA events started 26 years ago and have raised more than $50 million for cancer research. The open water swims have grown to over 20 cities throughout the United States with many of the other NESCAC colleges participating in the July event at Nantasket Beach near Boston, Mass.
Wesleyan Head Coach of Swimming/ Diving Peter Solomon said he couldn’t be more proud of his teams’ dedication to this event and the amount of effort they put into both the fundraising they did over the summer as well as the one-mile swim on the day of the event. Seas were choppy and filled with jellyfish. Yet, despite the rough seas, abundant marine life, and more than 500 swimmers in the water, “everyone had a great day at the beach swimming,” Solomon said. “Hats off to Alexa Burzinski ’15 and Jake Rosenbloom ’15 who organized Wesleyan’s team and spearheaded the fundraising efforts last spring. Their enthusiasm for Swim Across America enabled the team to surpass the $10,000 goal they had set last April.”
After the swim, many of the Wesleyan swimmers traveled to Narragansett Town Beach to ride waves and hang out on the beach for a few hours before returning to campus. “What better way to kick off the year,” concluded Coach Solomon, who also competed in the one-mile swim and raised $700 for the event.
“The swim is a great way for people to come together and participate in a sport they love alongside Olympic swimming legends while raising critical funds for Women and Infants Hospital,” said 1986 Olympic Silver Medalist Janel Jorgensen McArdle, the SAA president.
Wesleyan joined the University of Connecticut, Providence College, Brown University, Bryant University, Roger Williams University and the University of Rhode Island to help grow this year’s swim. Neighboring teams from Assumption College, Boston University and Holy Cross also participated, making it one of the largest groups of college athletes in an open-water swim in the country.
Swim Across America is a non-profit organization that runs events from Boston to San Francisco to support cancer research at the country’s finest hospitals and institutions. Proceeds from the Rhode Island swim go directly to Women and Infants Hospital, the largest and most diverse oncology service for woman in the Northeast, providing a broad spectrum of care for gynecological and breast cancers. It has evolved into a world-renowned, multi-disciplinary facility where clinicians uncover key answers to the questions of cancer, and focus on the needs of the patients and families.