On July 10, a cloudy Friday morning, Coleen Lynch of Charlestown and about 100 other swimmers from the Boston area – along with former Olympian swimmers – met up at the Boston Harbor Hotel to take part in the 22-mile relay Swim Across America (SAA) event in Boston.
Lynch joined Olympians Carlton Bruner, Kristy Kowal, Janel Jorgensen McArdle, Heather Petri, Erik Vendt, and Eric Wunderlich when diving into the ocean to raise money for pediatric cancer programs at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center.
Now in her 26th year in participating in this relay swim, Lynch said she was recruited by a colleague who knew she was on her college swim team and thought this would be great for her.
“At this point I had lost an aunt and uncle to pancreatic cancer,” said Lynch. “My uncle died while I was in college and my aunt died around the time I started swimming in the harbor.”
Lynch has raised thousands over the years though this swim, stating that her work colleagues, friends and families have always been very supportive.
“It’s not been challenging to raise money,” said Lynch. “In the last five years I have raised close to $25,000 and likely $50,000 over the years.”
Some years Lynch claims the water is freezing and she is always pondering before she jumps, “How cold is it? Will my face freeze?”
This year she exclaimed, “The water is not bad today!”
That’s probably a good thing as she spent many minutes in the water while she and her fellow swimmers made their way from the dock at the Boston Harbor Hotel out to Boston Light and back to the Harbor Hotel. Each swimmer took an average 15-minute heats, then they were picked up by zodiac boats and brought back to their support ships where they were able to rest, eat, drink and hang out with their fellow swimmers before taking the dive back into the ocean.
On the support ships, it was a very festive atmosphere with swimmers and friends having a great time together.
“Some of my best friends are from SAA. It’s really like a family,” said Lynch.
Lynch has made friends with fellow swimmers, like Olympian Janel Jorgensen, and can’t wait each year to take part in the swim with them again.
“I met her, Janel Jorgensen, in SAA and she became one of my best friends,” said Lynch.
Doing a 22 mile swim, even in part, is not an easy task. You would think Lynch practices all year and is in hard core training programs. That’s not the case.
“I do a little bit of training, yoga, spinning,” said Lynch, who admitted she does go the gym as well. “I have been a swimmer all my life. My nephews call me a former athlete.”
As Lynch prepared for her next dive into the ocean on July 10, she put on her wet suit and talked with her other swim mates. They prepared themselves mentally for the swim and then took the plunge back into the harbor with screams and yells of joy and fun.
Lynch will be back next year to take the plunge in the harbor again.