Nantucket’s annual Swim Across America event returns for the sixth year to Jetties Beach this Saturday morning, August 26. More than three hundred swimmers will swim varying distances from one-quarter mile to one mile to raise funds to support Nantucket cancer care. The summer capstone event celebrates the island’s pristine and beautiful swimming waters and islanders’ care for each other. The funds raised go directly for cancer care at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital (NCH) and Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket (PASCON). Seasonal and year-round residents can receive oncology services on-island due to the money raised by the Swim. The Cottage Hospital oncology nurse is funded by the Swim along with the travel expenses to bring physicians to the island to treat cancer. PASCON also receives support from the Swim to provide for social and emotional services for families battling cancer. To date more than $1,400,000 has been raised, and this year’s ambitious goal is $375,000.
Last weekend Swim Across America/Nantucket’s four-mile ocean Swim from Eel Point to Jetties Beach was held. Ten people ranging in age from 15 to age 62 participated (up from seven in 2016) and raised $63,000!
There are a number of swimming options for participants this Saturday: quarter-mile, half-mile, and 1-mile Swims, plus a kids’ Swim means there is a Swim for everyone. Swim organizers provide food and refreshments and an inspirational awards ceremony.
“This is a unique event on the island. The Swim demonstrates what is best about Nantucket, a community that cares for one another and expresses it by going out and doing something great like swim a mile,” said Jill Roethke, co-director of the event. Jim Pignato, co-director, added: “It is a non-competitive swim and we have something for every level of swimmer. If you need some help we will have experienced swimmers, Swim Angels, who will swim the whole distance with you. The only requirement for the swim is that you care about your friends and neighbors and want to defeat cancer, and meet fundraising requirements.”
This year the Swim has made a concerted effort to increase the number of summer residents who participate by highlighting the availability of cancer and oncology services so that those facing cancer can take treatments at NCH. “There is no better place to be in your fight against cancer than being in Nantucket for the summer. Our specialists can provide chemotherapy and other services right here on-island because of this terrific swim,” said Dr. Margot Hartmann, President and CEO of the Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
A recent article in JAMA highlighted that cancer mortality in Nantucket has declined dramatically in recent years. It has been called the “Nantucket Effect” attributed to heightened awareness and treatment of cancer on the Island combined with the community’s support of each other during times of need. “The Swim is a great community event. We are taking concrete steps to beat cancer with every stroke,” said Jenny Paradis, co-finance chair of Nantucket Swim Across America.
At the main event on August 26, swimmers are asked to raise a minimum of $200. Swimmers and contributors can sign up or learn more by visiting swimacrossamerica.org/Nantucket. There is no better way to say thank you to a great summer than taking the plunge to fight cancer with your neighbors and friends at Jetties Beach this Saturday.