Why We Swim: Team Old McDonalds

Organized by Team Captain Scott Whelan, the Old McDonalds are swimming to raise money for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) in honor of Doug McDonald, Ida Rae McDonald, Desmond Whelan and Jessica Evans, all who have fought or are fighting cancer.

Doug and Ida Rae McDonald are cancer survivors who were both treated and cared for at SCCA – Skagit Valley Medical Center in Mount Vernon, WA. Just this past year both were successfully treated at SCCA (Ida Rae for breast cancer and Doug for melanoma). Scott Whelan and Rochelle Whelan will swam in memory of the beloved Desmond Whelan of Galway, Ireland who we lost last year to cancer. David Corey swam in memory of his good friend Jessica Evans. Good Luck Swimmers!

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Why BJ Phillips swims – Team Dudes for Kass

BJ Phillips' Aunt Kathy holding his baby

Why do I swim?  For Kass!

My Aunt Kathy was this amazing woman who played the role of “the cool aunt” for me.  It could have been because she was my youngest Aunt, but I think it was much more than that… She watched MTV and liked hip hop, loved the Mariners and the Sonics, and let my cousin Wes and I turn her living room into a real life WWF wrestling arena.

I called her Kass because she was my friend.  She and my Dad referred to each other simply as Dude and Dudette.  Most of all, she was “cool”  because of the great relationship she had with her kids.  She poured herself into them, and they in turn into her.  She was their friend when they needed a friend, and a mom when they needed a mom.  I became a father myself recently, and it makes me happy to know that she is an ingredient in the tossed salad of parenthood that comes from mixing in my wife and both our families.

Kathy passed away in November after a 7 year battle with ovarian cancer.  It wasn’t the first time cancer struck our family, but that didn’t make it any easier.  Through it all, she kept her amazing spirit and managed to smile at every opportunity, even if she had to create one.  When I hopped in the pool two years ago to begin training to swim in her honor, it had been years since I tallied up any yardage.

Most life-long swimmers will agree:  years of laps as an age group swimmer, then into high school and beyond, have a way of slowly wearing down the edges.  But Kass kept putting one foot in front of the other, kept smiling, kept fighting… so why not keep putting one hand in front of the other each day for a few months?  Slowly, the rhythms of the morning became ritual again, and I learned to love something all over.  Just another thing Kass gave to Dad (Dude) and me:  the rediscovery of something lost.  This year, team Dudes for Kass transitions to swimming in Kass’ memory, which will undoubtedly take on new meaning and bring new revelations during the 6 o’clock hour.  She may not be on shore holding a box of donuts, but she will be with our every stroke, as she always was.

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Why Susanne Quistgaard swims – Team Tachywaves

Susanne Quistgaard is a multi-year Seattle Swim veteran and team captain

Swimming helped shape my life into what it is today. Remember that book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? I could write the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Swimming.

I took my first swim lesson at age 4, joined a team at age 8, and swam competitively through high school. Swimming taught me to set goals and work hard. It taught me good sportsmanship and how to get along with others. It taught me to be interested in my health, which ultimately sparked my interest in medicine and led to my career in family medicine.

Swim Across America is the perfect combination of two of my life passions – health and swimming. I swim for the many patients that touch my life with their struggles against cancer. I swim for my former work partner, Dr. Jeff Schlameus, who died 4 years ago from chemotherapy complications. I swim for my fellow book group member, Donna Walsh, who lost her battle with lymphoma a little over a year ago. I swim for my lifelong friend, Christi Hanks, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and melanoma last year. I swim for my son’s friend, Evan Dubicki, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2. I swim for my high school friend’s mom, Cindy Karst, who is currently battling breast cancer.

Swimming makes me a better person. I swim for myself and for others. How perfect is that?

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Why we swim – Team TBD captains

Team TBD captains Kirsti, Kristi, & Noel: Seattle Swim 3-year veterans all

Why do we swim?

After a number of years out of the pool, it wasn’t exactly easy getting back in. Thinking about getting to the pool, dragging ourselves through a workout, then driving home solo seemed like an awful lot of work, and an awful lot of time that could be spent doing so many other things … it seemed there was always something else that needed doing.

Thankfully we ran into each other, literally, one day on the street. We had been old swimming buddies who hadn’t seen each other in 10 years. We began swimming together once a week, sharing funny stories about our kids, family, and work on the way to and from swimming, laughing our way through workouts, and knowing that we could set our own pace during the workouts made these evening swims something that we began to look forward to each week.

After a few years, a “friend of a friend”, who was new to Seattle, was introduced to us as someone who “liked to swim”.  Little did we know that she would join us for years to come, most often being the one to bring great workouts and really push us. Over the years, we have continued to add to our little circle of swimmers.

We now swim in a number of different pools, and schedules seem to change every week. But it seems that if one of us really can’t find the motivation, and if we really have a million other things we should be doing, there is always someone willing to meet you for a swim and to motivate you. And swimming socially has really become our “swim of choice” as we feel so fortunate to have connected with such a great group of swimmers, swimmers of all different skill levels and backgrounds, whom we now call dear friends.

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The winter workout

We have a good crew of 7-8 swimmers at a local pool that get up rather early to swim 3-4 mornings per week.  Roughly half are Seattle Swim veterans of our team including one of the founders of the event. The rest we plan to recruit this year, even if they don’t yet know it.

Here was the view of the sunrise over the Cascades after our workout this morning. Kinda made me feel like writing a post.

I was never a competitive swimmer, but since being recruited for my first Seattle Swim three years back, I have been slowly sucked into really enjoying the training and health benefits year-round. I really look forward to seeing folks in the morning, getting in a great workout, and having a clear head for the day. I have become a lot better swimmer and in better shape generally in the process. Much of this is thanks to Seattle Swim.

Thanks for the commitment, all you swimmers out there. I know it’s February, but start thinking about scaring up a team or registering individually for 2012. Sure it’s winter, but we’ll see you in the water.

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Team effort – a heartfelt thank you

Hello All – I am writing all of you who sponsored me, as well as my team members themselves, in the Seattle Swim 2011 race.  I really appreciate your collective support this year.

Teams are fun, teamwork is better

Since I have never been a competitive swimmer, I will have to fall back to a different sports analogy.  A long time ago for a single brief quarter in college, I rowed.  I don’t profess to be a rower, as there are some on this email list who would take offense because they put in the time for 4 years or more (most especially my wife).  But I learned something about the sport and came to appreciate its nuances in at least some small way that fall quarter on the Connecticut River near Hanover, NH.

As in life, much of the time in the 8 person shell is spent without all 8 oars and the associated rowers working together.  One oar is hitting the water early, a few are coming out late, and the boat moves disjointedly along its path, tipping side to side to the frustration of everyone.  And then sometimes you personally “catch a crab”, where the entire boat with all its momentum torques around an oar pinned to your own rib cage, knocking the wind out of you or worse.  We all know what that feels like in different ways.  But you get up each morning keep at it, day after day, for a very few special times when everything is in sync, when everyone is working together, where on each perfectly timed stroke you can feel that boat nearly lift out of the water as the coxswain calls the cadence.  It is a rare and special fleeting few moments, but it always is worth all it took to get there.  Those are the times when the boat sings.
I want to especially thank my team members for Seattle Swim 2011, pictured above just before our swim as the sun was rising.  For the 10 days up to and including the race, everyone worked together.  We had some well attended final open water training swims the Friday before (total darkness as the days get shorter) and the Monday of Labor Day weekend.  Folks worked every day on what they could do to help push the total we were collectively raising for the Cancer Care Alliance.  We had late joiners, 2 milers and 1/2 milers, people sending out words of encouragement, swimmers who normally don’t like fundraising smoking their own keyboards with emails to friends and relatives.  And when we all met at Starbucks very early Saturday morning and later went into the water together, there was a real sense of accomplishment as a team, of having done something good in all of our busy lives.  So for all you members of Team TBD and all of you sponsors out there, a very personal and heartfelt thank you from me.  Because during a brief 10 day span at the beginning of September, I could feel the boat sing.  Rob
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