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Swim Across America Via North Salem

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Swim Across America , a non-profit organization devoted to raising funds and awareness for cancer research, celebrated its first northern Westchester event on Sunday, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at the Lakeside Field Club in North Salem.

Thirty eager participants took a dive into the pool and swam 36 laps (1/2 mile) or twice as far. Each swimmer was rewarded with a towel, a T-shirt and a medallion at the end -- even those who did not quite finish.

Michele Fufido, a 20-year-old student at Penn State, came from Bronxville to swim because her parents are involved in the charity. “I’ve never been so glad to get up at 6:30 and go swimming,” she said. “I participate whenever I can.”

North Salem’s Mary Cate Devey said, “It is so great to come together to do something positive. Being a cancer survivor myself, I’m glad I can do this and I’ll be here next year. That’s what I think about when I’m swimming.” Devey’s two sons also swam for the cause.

Deirdre Coughlin, another swimmer from North Salem, said, “It’s so nice to see so many children here. They got up early to come. They understand what it’s all about.”

Swim Across America is the offspring of Run Across America, an eight-month journey across the country undertaken by two childhood buddies from Fairfield, CT. They raised over $1 million. The extraordinary sidelight of the pilgrimage, and the reason they undertook it to begin with, was that one of them had lost a leg to cancer 10 years earlier.

Jim Smith, an organizer for Swim Across America, commented that the swimmers at Lakeside, “are especially good. They’re dedicated. They’ve got great team spirit.”

There are eight Westchester swims scheduled this year. By far the largest turnout will be at the Larchmont Shore Club on July 30. Participants swim in the Long Island Sound. Last year there were 800 swimmers altogether in Westchester. Six hundred of them swam in the Sound. They made over $1 million.

“You’ve never seen so much energy in one place in your life,” said Smith. “You can actually feel it in the air.”

The organization still needs boaters, kayakers and land volunteers to assist at the Larchmont event .

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