Swimmers from across the Boston area competed on Saturday to raise money for cancer research, at a Swim Across America fundraising event at Blodgett Pool.
The event, which is part of a national campaign, challenges participants to raise money by swimming for two hours straight. Teams swam a relay-style race, competing to swim the greatest total distance. Extra distance was added to teams’ totals for their fundraising efforts. For every $100 raised, teams were awarded with 100 yards extra distance.
“There’s the college teams—Harvard and Tufts—and then there are people in their 70’s who are swimming,” event organizer Janel S. Jorgensen said. “Its all about having fun and trying to make a difference.”
The event was the first of its kind to be held at Harvard, but Swim Across America has been raising money for cancer research since 1987. This particular event raised over $55,000, according to Jorgensen.
Swim Across America has hosted events at colleges and recreation centers, as well as outdoor open water swims. In one notable event, competitors swam under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The organization often partners with Olympic swimmers to raise awareness as well as money. Harvard’s own Olympian, Alex M. Meyer ’10, who has previously participated in the event, came to cheer on swimmers at Saturday’s event.
The former Harvard men’s swimming co-captain, who sported a Swim Across America zip-up, said that he is proud to have participated in Swim Across America events and plans to in the future.
“This is obviously a great cause,” he said.
Kim Goodwin, a cancer survivor and organizer of one of the teams, said that each member of her team was either a cancer survivor or was impacted by the illness.
“We’re all here because we have goodness in our hearts, and we’re trying to fight to find a cure for cancer,” she said. “But we’ve all lost someone or have [known] someone affected by cancer, and some of us are survivors.”
In between laps, Goodwin said that the event had a lively atmosphere and spirit.
“It’s great because you see somebody else raising, and everyone has a sort of competitive spirit, so it encourages you to raise more,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see people you never expected to donate donate...and sometimes even more than they can probably afford. It’s great to be a part of something.”