Why we swim

Community

Lately, I’ve been amazed at how many wonderful fundraising events there are in the Puget Sound Area. Each summer (because only truly crazy Seattleites would attempt an athletic fundraiser other than during the summer!), I sit down and look through all of the great resource sites that are available to us now and pick a few that intrigue me.

Years ago, I had lofty goals – I think one summer I attempted to participate at some level in 10 events. Yes, 10. I had obviously lost my mind. Now that reality has set in, along with 2 children and a job, not to mention aching bones, I find myself focusing on just one. I settle my mind be reassuring myself that although it is only one event, I will put my heart and soul into it.

For the past 3 years, my fundraising “event of choice” has been the Seattle Swim for the Swim Across America. It has been a truly amazing experience in every aspect. After having lost a dear friend to cancer a few years ago, I couldn’t have found a better way to honor him. The swimmers I’ve met and have grown to call friends, the unbelievable volunteers who pull together to put it on, and the countless people who work for the beneficiary, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, ALL continue to inspire me. Did I mention the fantastic amount of money has been raised each year of this event?

Last weekend, after dinner with an old friend, I have had a change of heart. No longer will I have the excuse that I can only put my heart into one event, one way of helping, one way of contributing. We had started talking and she shared with me that she’ll be starting a new job next week, one that entails heading up the start of a new local fundraising event. After hearing all of her great ideas and seeing her obvious excitement, my brain started calculating all of the different ways that I could support her, her event, and her endeavors. Not only could we choose to participate in any of these events, we could team up at each others’ events, whether it be by participating, my volunteering, or armed with marketing information about the others respective happenings. The opportunities are endless and are all made possible by the fantastic community of athletes and supporters here in Seattle.

No longer will I make excuses. There are so many unbelievable organizations that need our help and honestly every little bit helps. I’ll try not to be overwhelmed by the fundraising goals or athletic challenges they may pose; I won’t stress over time I may or may not have; to be there to help out the day of, support leading up to, or participate in post-event projects. As our omnipresent friend Nike says, “Just do it”. And I intend to.

I feel so lucky to live in this great community. That’s truly what it’s all about …
Community supporting Community
.

The following is a list of a few great events and organizations that I support/have a personal connection to. I encourage you to forward along and share any that you are proud to support as well.

Swim Across America (http://www.swimacrossamerica.org)

Run for Hope (http://www.runofhopeseattle.org)

“Ooo-Um-Gowah” (http://www.kyleroger.blogspot.com/)

Ben Towne Foundation (http://www.bentownefoundation.org/)

Trek Tri-Island/Ride Around the Sound – American Lung Association of WA
(http://www.lung.org/associations/charters/mountain-pacific/fundraising-events/)

posted by: Kirsti Rochon

Categories: Cancer research, Events, Sponsors, Survivor stories, Why we swim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Andy Hill swims – Team Samena

I’ve been swimming with the Samena Master group on/off for over 4 years now.  I’ve always used swimming as a form of exercise and recreation with friends and family.  I have been swimming in an organized team since high school.  It is a social network and fitness outlet for me.   I’ve flirted with other activities (running, biking, skiing, hiking, sports, …), but continue to rely on swimming for the ‘full workout’.  It’s a lifestyle.  I’ve met some of my closest friends through swimming.  Swimming makes me healthy, rehabs me from injuries, rescues me from family/ professional stresses, and keeps me safe in the waterways that surround us. 

It’s because of this that I feel so strongly about encouraging others to jump in the pool.  It can change a life for anyone wanting to improve their health.  It will surround you with people that are healthy in mind, body, and soul.  It connects you and grounds you.  It also give you opportunities to participate with your community in meaningful ways.  We are fortunate to have several events to allow you to swim to help others.  Every summer when our lakes warm up, there are several organized events that provide the opportunity to swim safely, for exercise, and for others.  I would encourage you to put these on your calendar.  I schedule to participate in the ‘Swim for Life’, ‘Park to Park’, and ‘Swim Across America’.

As an example, the ‘Swim across America’ is the only fund raiser I ask my friends and family to contribute to in support of something I feel strongly about.  On a personal note, I lost my mother to cancer when I was 10 and felt it was right to dedicate my efforts to one ‘ask’ per year that felt right for me. I don’t know anyone not touched by this tragic disease. The ‘Swim Across America’ is one of the best organized fund raisers for cancer and allows me to participate in a meaningful way. If any of this rings true to you (even in part), I would highly encourage you to participate. It feels good making a difference and joining such a well-organized event.  I would also encourage you to look at the other swim events that might have similar meaning to you.

This year we will be organizing the Samena Masters Group to participate as a team in the ‘Swim Across America’ event on September 8th, 2012.  Please contact me at NAndyHill@Gmail.com if you would be interested in joining our team.  It always proves to be a wonderful time.  Sincerely, Andy Hill

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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 We Swim: Team Larissa’s Crew

Team “Larissa’s Crew” is swimming in honor of Larissa Jean Dhanani. Larissa is currently battling Acute Lymphomcytic Leukemia and on April 19, 2011, she received an extremely successful bone marrow transplant, thanks to an experimental protocol done with research funded by the Swim Across America. Larissa’s exceptional care and treatment provided by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has inspired us to give back to our community. Larissa is a truly inspiring woman and a very close friend and relative to all of us swimming in last year’s Swim Across America in Seattle, WA. Larissa is living proof that the funds raised through the Swim Across America directly affect the outcomes of those battling cancer.

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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 Mary Patterson swims – Seattle U Masters

Mary is a swimmer and coach for any season. She will be leading the Seattle U Masters team charge at Seattle Swim 2012!

Health, Fun and Friendships:

I started swimming at the young age of four, following in the footsteps of my father, a competitive swimmer.  For me, swimming was a social and competitive activity.  After I finished my years of competitive swimming, I found that getting back in the pool was a great reason to connect with friends as well as a way to stay healthy.  I have made swimming a healthy habit for life.

My favorite moments spent in the pool have been with my father and my very best friend and twin sister, Genevieve. Summers home from college, winter and spring breaks as well as today,  we love to joke, laugh and swim together.  Swimming has created the opportunity for a lifelong passion and friendships. That is why I swim, to continue a great relationship with my very best friend and my dad!

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Why Susan Mayfield swims

Susan Mayfield is founding board member of Seattle Swim. Her son Caden is also a veteran, a half-miler from last year's event!

When I was 5 years old my Dad put me and my two siblings in swimming lessons.  He planned to buy a boat but wanted his kids to be water safe beforehand.  Years later he found himself with three competitive swimmers but no boat!  Swimming became a family endeavor.  We spent many long weekends at swim meets — traveling across the state and country together.  It was our identity and what our family did.

Not one for socializing in the stands at these swim meets, my Dad decided to become a swimming official.  He started out being a stroke and turn judge and moved up the ranks with experience.  He eventually became a well known starter at local meets and on the National circuit.  Being British – he had a very distinctive voice, and he was known as the starter who would say “TAKE YOUR MARK”  (picture MARK being pronounced more like “MORK”!).

My Dad was a huge proponent of swimming.  He would talk about how it brought people together for a common good and created a strong sense of community.  And he was right.  My Dad passed away 10 years ago from stomach cancer.  I swim now because he instilled a lifestyle of not only swimming but general fitness in me.  I took many years away from the sport after years of training and competing.  But now I swim on a regular basis.  Being in the pool and in the open water bring such a sense of familiarity and comfort.  I love it – and it reminds me of my Dad.

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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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