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An Autumn Swim to Fight Cancer
Team Suffolk's Swim Across America at Hills West raises $20,000 for cancer research

October 31, 2011

By: Rick Karas

Half Hollow Hills just had its first snow of the season, so what better time to go for a swim? No better time like the present - provided it's indoors, and for a good cause.

That's what Team Suffok was doing at the Hills West Natatorium on Sunday as part of Swim Across America, where local swimmers head to the ocean (or in this case, the pool) to raise money for cancer research.

Swim Across America was founded in 1989, and has raised $45 million dollars toward the prevention and treatment of cancer. The Nassau and Suffolk entries alone have raised close to $5 million over the last decade. Swimmers solicit donations from family and friends, and take the plunge, swimming for many minutes or several miles.

"At Swim Across America, we're enablers, we're trying to fight cancer and support people like Team Suffolk," said Nassau/Suffolk chapter chairman Gerry Oakes. "[We say] look what you can do to fight cancer in your community."

Sunday's swim raised $20,000, which will go to the likes of Sloan Kettering and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as they continue to treat those affected by cancer, and search for a cure.

The event was largely due to the efforts of Hills East student Lauren Attner. Lauren is a varsity swimmer, and her mother Diana was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She's doing fine, and she inspired Lauren to 'pool' her teammates together to swim for a worthy cause.

"I wanted to do something to make a difference, so I contacted the Swim Across America people and told my whole team about and basically just set this whole thing up," Lauren said.

The Half Hollow Hills swim team is gearing up for the League Championships this week, after a 6-1 season. Head coach Jason Wiedersum says he's proud of Lauren and the team for taking some extra time, getting up early on a Sunday, and diving into the fight against cancer.

"[Lauren's] really done a lot of growing up over the last year, it's a very difficult situation to be in and I think she's handled herself very well," Wiedersum said, adding that ten varsity swimmers took part in the event.

Lauren is thrilled by the support of her teammates and the community as this 'Swim Across America' helps aid in the fight against cancer across the Island.

"It's very touching that because they all know my mom, they're all here to swim for her or anyone they've lost," she said. "In this day and age everyone is affected by cancer ... [we're] doing something to try and fight it."

A hearty swim on a cold Sunday morning is a good start.