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Bigger, Younger Turnout Swims Toward Cure

A slightly unseasonable chill was in the air on the edge of Long Island Sound on Saturday morning. But hundreds of swimmers determined to make a difference in the search for a cure for cancer dove into the water headfirst. By the time they returned to the shore, the sun was warming the beach.

It was all part of the fifth annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America, hosted by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy. In the event's largest turnout ever, more than 220 swimmers eclipsed the $420,000 mark in raising money for cancer research.

“This event just grows and grows, and it’s really nothing more than people telling their friends and those affected by the disease,” said Kerry Anderson, co-director of the swim. “Everybody’s been touched by it. We’re still working and chipping away at finding a cure.”

Anderson said she was most impressed by the huge jump in younger participants. The largest contingent of young swimmers was a group of Greenwich High School graduates and current students who swam for a classmate.

Brooke Lorenz was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year, throwing her college plans for a loop. Her friends immediately set out to help. More than 30 college and high school students formed Team CHEMhOes, including her longtime friend and fellow Greenwich High graduate Emily Weir.

“It was just a bunch of friends who wanted to get together and do this for Brooke and have fun,” said Weir, the top female finisher in the race. “I’ve always heard about this event, but never thought of doing it until Brooke suggested it. Now we have a huge group of supporters and everyone is so positive here just to swim for a good cause.”

Team CHEMhOes raised more than $17,000 for Swim Across America. Lorenz, a former member of the Greenwich High School swim team, was given a clean bill of health in March after 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

Swimmers could choose from four different course lengths this year. A few elite swimmers tried the 3- and 5-mile routes, but the most popular by far were the 1.5-mile and half-mile courses. The course began at Cummings Point in Stamford, briefly entered Greenwich waters and then returned to the Stamford starting point.

Swim Across America is a national organization that holds open water swim events across the country to raise money for cancer research.

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