Dena Swim Teams Participate In Swim Across America

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By Ally Fisher and Judy Tacyn

In January, 12 Anne Arundel swim teams made waves to fight cancer. Chesapeake and Northeast put aside their rivalry to team up with Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, and Old Mill at North Arundel Aquatic Center for one of two events benefitting Swim Across America, a nonprofit organization that fundraises for cancer research.

Before the swim meet, the Cougars and Eagles worked hard to collect money. “We got a lot of support by asking family and friends,” said Chesapeake’s swimming head coach, Brian Nelson.

Northeast held a successful Chick-fil-A night, with all money going to Swim Across America. Collectively, the 12 schools raised $17,554. The Annapolis Panthers led the way with more than $7,319.

Old Mill High School senior Mia D’Antoni organized the event because she lost her grandfather to cancer. Last year, D’Antoni approached her swim coach, Ellen Hays, about raising money for cancer research. Hays, who has connections with Swim Across America, liked the idea and the duo introduced the idea to the Old Mill team. This year, D’Antoni wanted to do even more.

After coordinating logistics with Clayton Kulp and Krissy Albright from the Anne Arundel County Public Schools Office of Athletics, and Cheryl Hickox, Swim Across America volunteer event director, and making a pitch to all 12 county high school swim coaches, AACPS Swims for a Cure was planned.

Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Severna Park, Southern and South River high schools met on January 22 at the Arundel Olympic Swim Center in Annapolis; Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, Old Mill, North County and Northeast high schools met on January 15 at the North Arundel Aquatic Center in Glen Burnie. The events were part of the first Anne Arundel County Swims for a Cure. Craig Beardsley, a 1980 Olympian, attended the events to share his gold medals and offer swim clinics with the teen swimmers.

“It was really cool when we got to wear his medals,” shared Northeast senior Kendall Boyd. Beardsley works with Swim Across America by using his passion to give back to a cause that hits close to home; his mother has battled cancer.

Swim clinics weren’t the only attraction during the swim meet in Glen Burnie. “We basically swam for fun,” explained Chesapeake freshman Emily Meister.

The day was certainly fun, with teams taking pictures, swimming, getting their own swim caps as well as their own fake tattoos. However, the experience was just as beneficial as it was fun, when everyone came together to start off the event with a talk about the purpose of Swim Across America and cancer research.

“I would definitely do something like this again,” explained Northeast senior McKenna Sparks. “I’m really glad I participated. Although we were goofing around in a pool, we were also helping an important cause at the same time. This community loves to give back.”

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