By Phillip Whitten
ON October 11 – exactly one month after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that left between 5,000 and 7,000 people dead – the Curl-Burke Swim Club held a relief effort for those touched by the tragedy. It was one of many such efforts by swim clubs around the country.
Led by Olympic gold medalists Tom Dolan and Ed Moses as well as the alumni, parents, coaches, and athletes of Curl-Burke Swim Club, the team set a goal of swimming 206miles and raising $20,000. 206 miles is the distance between the Pentagon, Somerset, Pennsylvania and the World Trade Center.
The team far exceeded expectations, earning over $30,000 and swimming 293 miles.
Dolan recorded the top distance for the day –30,500 meters, or about 20 miles! He averaged just under 20 minutes per mile. "I only expected to swim about 15 to 20K," he said, "but at night, with 15 or more people to a lane and lots of people on deck cheering, it got easier. Earlier on, I was hallucinating and pondering the meaning of life, but at the end it felt good."
Rachael Burke, 17, the national 5K open water champion, was the top money-earner, and also pounded out 11 miles in the water.
"It was great to see everyone really get into it," said Dolan, the 1996 and 2000 Olympic champ in the 400 IM. "There were age group coaches who looked like they were drowning, parents struggling to do a mile, Masters swimmers, and guys I swam with in high school who got back in the water after eight years because they wanted to help."
Dolan said a four-person committee is researching where to contribute the funds. "We want the money to go 100 percent to the families affected by the terrorist attacks, not to overhead for the relief organization." He said most of the funds would go to the families of those killed in the Pentagon attack, "because they were local. These were our friends and neighbors."