The Truman State University swimmers are transitioning from the pool to open water for their inaugural participation in the Swim Across America Open Water Swim Aug. 26 in St. Louis at the Innsbrook Resort. All the money swimmers raise leading up to the event will fund the Siteman Cancer Center, located on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.
Each swimmer is required to raise at least $300 before they jump in the water of Alpine Lake to swim half a mile, 1.2 miles or 2.4 miles. The history of Swim Across America spans back to 1987 — inspired by Run Across America — while the Open Water Swim at Innsbrook Resort is only two years old. Swimmers of all ages have the option of swimming individually or in a team that consists of at least three swimmers. Truman will do the latter to make the experience even more special.
“It is a good team bonding experience before the real season starts,” Head Coach Ed Pretre said.
Pretre said he was convinced Truman should participate after a conversation he had with his old coach Craig Beardsley — a former Olympian — who is involved with the organization. Pretre thought this was a golden opportunity to create awareness for funding cancer research in the St. Louis area.
Pretre said he has been involved in Swim Across America events prior to this year when he was a coach at East Carolina University. He said it will be different this time because his previous school participated in a pool swim while this will be an open water swim.
Pretre said this will be a fun and relaxing experience because they’ll be swimming for a worthy cause. He said because cancer is so rampant in the world today that it has affected or will affect everyone in some way. Pretre said every dollar each swimmer raises will make a difference in finding a cure.
“If no one on our team has now, they’re going to have to [deal with cancer] eventually,” Pretre said.
Senior captain Jasmine Roghair said while she had not heard about Swim Across America before, she is excited for the opportunity as the team discussed doing more volunteer work after last semester ended. Roghair said the team has raised money for the swimming program before, but she said this will be a new experience that will give back to the community.
Roghair said she does not have personal reason to swim in this event, but she is cognizant of stories of cancer patients and has seen afflicted children in the hospital as part of her pre-med volunteer work.
“Almost everyone knows someone that’s been affected,” Roghair said. “Any change or difference that we can make, I’m excited to be able to do it.”
Roghair said she loves open water swimming because of her ability and experience in covering long distances. She said pace and mental commitment are important factors in open water swimming. She said she and her teammates will have to be aware of the lack of visibility far ahead and below water level that comes with swimming in a lake.
Roghair said the team has reached out to friends and family to reach the $300 minimum and will eventually post a fundraising page on social media. She said collecting the money for cancer research makes this upcoming experience worthwhile, but she also said the event will bring the team even closer together.
Junior Caleb Kruse said he is personally motivated to swim as his mother had breast cancer in 2010. Kruse said Swim Across America donates proceeds from the event to organizations that help people with breast cancer, so he said he wants to give back to prevent other people from enduring a similar situation.
“Every little thing that you can do to help others will make a difference,” Kruse said.
Kruse said he is looking forward to the relaxed and noncompetitive atmosphere of the event and being able to participate in an open water swim. Kruse said he is typically a sprint swimmer, and his races end much sooner than those of a marathon swimmer.
Kruse said the team has done open water practices before at Thousand Hills State Park, so this will not be unmarked territory for them. He said everyone will have to keep their heads partially above water and stay close to make sure other swimmers do not stray off course.
Kruse said it is impossible to not have fun at an event like this because it is for an important cause, and he will be able to swim with his teammates.
“Our team is extremely close, and we hang out all the time,” Kruse said. “The fact that we’re all doing this together makes it even more special.”