It was a balmy August morning at Newbridge Park Pool in Bellmore as dozens of young swimmers lined the lanes to swim as many laps as they could for a worthy cause.
The “Swim-A-Cross” program, sponsored by the Town of Hempstead and the American Red Cross on Long Island, encouraged swim teams from across the township to raise funds for the Red Cross by swimming laps.
“The young people typically raise money per lap that they swim, so it’s a challenge to themselves and their abilities,” said Neela Lockel, the CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island. “They ask people to sponsor based on laps, so their friends, family and supporters will contribute per lap that they swim.”
The event was held Aug. 3 and attracted about 60 young swimmers, ages 6 to 17. They are members of swim teams from Hempstead’s eight pools: Averill of Elmont, Echo of West Hempstead, Forest City of Wantagh, Malibu of Lido Beach, Newbridge of Bellmore, Oceanside, Rath of Franklin Square and Veterans of East Meadow.
“We teach over 10,000 people to swim every year in the Town of Hempstead, and we encourage people to get involved,” said Mal McGarry, the town’s Aquatic Division coordinator. “We want to promote swimming, it’s a great sport, and it raises money for a good cause.”
The fundraiser concluded with an award ceremony honoring the teams and individuals who swam the most laps and raised the most money, followed by an ice cream party.
The top ranked teams were:
Malibu of Lido Beach, which raised $1,719.
Forest City of Wantagh, which raised $565.
Veterans of East Meadow, which raised $230.
The swimmers received support from their families, friends and neighbors, many of whom donated money to the cause.
Each year the American Red Cross on Long Island provides food, clothing and shelter to hundreds of people after local disasters, including house fires, building collapses and floods.
“The money raised will be used locally to support victims of fire or disaster damage,” said Diana Price, of the American Red Cross.
The organization relies on the generosity of donors to be prepared to respond and provide that relief. Now in its 11th year, the event has raised more than $70,000 since its inception.
“I’m very excited. This is a great event,” Price said. “My kids grew up in this pool. They learned how to swim here, so this holds a special place in my heart.”