Swim Across America will still make a splash in Lynbrook


Over the past 10 summers, the Lynbrook Village Pool has hosted Swim Across America, a charity event that raises funds to fight cancer.

Throughout the years, the event has raised more than $165,000. This year, due to the pandemic, the National SAA Committee made the difficult decision to cancel all pool and open water events. As stated on their website (swimacrossamerica.org), the organization’s priority is the safety and health of the participants, volunteers and supporters. 

The organization has introduced the SAA Personal Challenge for this year, where all participants can create any challenge and pledge to complete it through Oct. 31 and garner donations from sponsors. Proceeds from the challenges will support immunotherapy research at the Swim Across America Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, lung cancer clinical trials at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, pediatric brain cancer research at the Feinstein Institute of North Shore and pediatric oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.

“The SAA board and national team have been closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus from the very beginning,” SAA Executive Board Member Kevin Shine  said. “Given the nature of our events with large numbers of participants and spectators, we needed to determine if it was safe to run our swim events this year. We initially cancelled a number of the early events in Tampa and Houston back in April. As the virus progressed and given the CDC Guidelines and input from medical experts, we eventually decided that we needed to suspend all of our events across all 21 of our SAA cities. While this was a difficult decision, it was done to ensure the safety of all our supporters. We look forward to getting back to our normal swim events next year, and we will likely continue to use the ‘personal challenge’ to allow non-swimmers to participate in our mission as well.”

Instead of individual websites for each event, everyone who participates will sign up through the Nassau Suffolk website, and can start a team there, or sign up as an individual. According to Shine, SAA board members wanted to expand the awareness of its cancer-fighting mission to non-swimmers, and ultimately raise $500,000 in support of its beneficieries.

“Thus far, we have had over 170 ‘personal challenge’ participants that have raised approximately $360,000, and [that number is] growing,” Shine said. “Our SAA personal challenge will continue throughout the year, so folks can continue to join the SAA Personal Challenge and fundraise for our beneficiaries.”

While the Nassau Suffolk Chapter of SAA was started in 2001, the annual Lynbrook event began in 2010, and was organized by Julie Bergin and Kelly Stapleton, who, along with their children, Kyle and Emily Bergin and Kevin and Siobhan Stapleton, rallied the community to raise funds for cancer research.

“This is a great event for the community,” Deputy Mayor Michael Hawxhurst said. “It has grown over the years to where we now have a large contingent of swimmers come out and many village residents come down to watch and lend support. It is great seeing people getting involved for such a worthy cause. It is nice to see our younger swimmers and residents who both put on and participate in the event. The money raised over the years goes to a great cause, and everyone learns so much from being involved. I am proud our village can do what it can to host this event each year and let our swimmers participate in this.”

According to the SAA website, some of the suggested personal challenges include setting a goal distance to walk, bike, swim, kayak or run; golfing a safe round with friends, volunteering for food pantries and Covid-19 related causes; climbing a mountain; or hosting a Zoom conference with a celebrity or Olympian. Although there are restrictions on the amount of people allowed in due to the pandemic, the Lynbrook Village Pool is now open to the public, and if personal challenge participants would like to do a swim challenge there, they can sign up for a slot in the lap lanes through the village website (lynbrookvillage.net/recreation-calendar).

“This year has presented everyone such a great challenge with everything going on,” Hawxhurst said. “People have lost loved ones and must deal with the ongoing issues from the pandemic. It has touched everyone. As we try to move forward, the village has opened our pool with various restrictions, including reduced capacity, social distancing requirements and enhanced cleaning regimens.”

Hawxhurst added that those who would like to swim their personal challenge can practice laps the morning in 30-minute incriments each day. This enables people to socially distance, but still get in their exercise or their personal challenge.

All participants who sign up will donate a $25 registration fee and receive a Swim Across America T-Shirt. For high school or middle school students who are interested in earning community service hours, participating in the SAA personal challenge is a possibility. The Lynbrook Village Pool SAA event usually has about 100 participants.

For more information or to sign-up, visit swimacrossamerica.org/goto/Lynbrook.