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A huge splash on Nantucket for local cancer care

For years patients had to travel off-island for treatment. Swim Across America Nantucket helps keep that access local. The event has raised $4 million over the last decade.

Hundreds of swimmers and volunteers are expected to join the 11th annual Swim Across America Nantucket event at Jetties Beach on Saturday.

For years, cancer patients and their families were forced to travel for access to oncology services. Now, funds raised help support keeping that treatment local, at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket.

"It's not a race; we say, 'Swim easy, fight hard,'" Jill Roethke, the event's co-event director and a lifelong swimmer, told Morning Edition host Patrick Flanary. "Those with cancer are doing the hard work. It's more of an opportunity for the community to come together as one."

The nonprofit Swim Across America was founded in 1987 and holds 25 open-water swims across the country.

The first Swim Across America Nantucket event happened on the island in 2013. Event directors Roethke and Jim Pignato have since helped the swim raise more than $4 million for local treatment.

Schedule for July 22:
6:30 a.m.: Registration opens
7:30: Registration closes
7:45: Safety Talk & Why I Swim guest speaker
8:10: National Anthem
8:15: Kids’ Splash
8:20: 1/4-mile and 1-mile swimmers start
8:22: 1/2-mile swimmers start
8:50: Breakfast
9:20: Awards ceremony

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.