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Making Waves To Fight Cancer at Swim Across America

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Swimmer from Team Amazing Grace covers his back with names and ribbons of all people he knows who battle cancer

Swimmer from Team Amazing Grace covers his back with names and ribbons of all people he knows who battle cancer

Hope Nathanson

Swimmer from Team Amazing Grace covers his back with names and ribbons of all people he knows who battle cancer

Lake Lanier buzzes with energy as swimmers don their matching swim caps and patiently await the beginning of the races.  Olympian Missy Franklin’s voice booms over the intercom, “Take your mark; GO!” The frigid lake water shocks the swimmers at first, but they power through because they know they are swimming for an impactful cause.

Swim Across America hosts open water swim races to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  SAA swims take place in various cities around America from San Fransisco to the Boston Harbor.  All swims have the goal to “make waves to fight cancer.”

Over six hundred swimmers and hundreds of spectators attended the Atlanta open water swim.  Atlanta swimmers raised over half a million dollars for cancer research at Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Eight athletes from the APS Knights water polo team, three of which were Grady students, swam as a team in the open-water mile swim on Sept. 23.  The APS swimmers reached their $5000 goal, and APS Knights coach, Ken Beamon, raised the fourth most of all Atlanta swimmer, raising $5,580.

APS Knights B team captain, Jaime Matherson (North Atlanta High School sophomore), created Team APS for Swim Across America because she wanted to introduce this organization to the water polo team.  She feels passionately about swimming for cancer research because she lost a relative to cancer years ago.  

“Swim Across America is a great event,” Matherson said. “It’s truly amazing to see everyone come together and support one cause.”

Not only did Matherson participate in the mile swim with the rest of the APS Knights team, but she also swam the third leg of the two mile relay as an angel swimmer.  An angel swimmer swims alongside a person with disabilities.  Matherson and Ethan Levy, North Atlanta High School junior, swam with Levy’s brother who has autism.

The open water swim intimidates some. Swimming in a lake is unlike swimming in a pool because one cannot see the bottom, the temperature is colder than most swimmers are used to, and the swim course guides the swimmers almost a half mile out from any land before they head back into the finish line.

“At first I was super concerned to swim open water and swimming for a whole mile,” Grace Sherman, APS waterpolo player and swimmer for Amazing Grace team (which raised almost $40,000 in total). “But everyone was so supportive, and I would highly recommend the swim!”

Swim Across America swims take place all around the nation to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  Every swim brings research organizations closer to the cure.  Swim Across America “makes waves to fight cancer” one swimmer at a time.  

“The swim is hard,” Matherson said. “But nothing is harder than battling cancer”

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The arts, cultural and news magazine of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia