Westport swim teams make splash for Nepal quake relief
Published 3:50 pm, Monday, June 8, 2015
The boys and girls swim teams of Staples High School and the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rat swim raised more than $37,000 with “Swim for Nepal,” a five-hour event held recently at the YMCA’s Bedford Family Center to benefit Save the Children’s relief efforts in earthquake-devastated Nepal.
More than 175 swimmers, ranging in age from 6 to 18, took part in the fundraising effort.
Staples High School junior Mark Schachter, who will be a captain of the Staples swim team next year, organized the event along with Aileen Coyne, who will be a captain of the Staples girls’ team in the fall, and freshman Scott Adler. All three canvassed door to door and also marched in the town’s Memorial Day parade with banners promoting Swim for Nepal.
“Swimming has given me so much, and I am grateful for that,” Schachter said. “That’s why I want to use the sport to give back when I can and this is a time when there is a real need. People in Nepal need help right now.”
The recent earthquakes in Nepal have killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 23,000, according to published reports.
“My teammates and I cannot imagine what it would be like to live through two earthquakes in two weeks. But we know the children in Nepal must be hungry, cold and scared,” Coyne said.
"The effect of this latest earthquake is deeply felt, and is setting people back psychologically, as we were all trying to creep back to some sort of normal life,” said Sanjana Shrestha of Save the Children Nepal. “Children and families in the worst affected areas are understandably terrified, with many sleeping outside.”
This was the fourth time in 10 years that Westport swimmers raised money for Save the Children. In 2005, the Water Rats held a “Swim for Asian Tsunami” relief, raising $19,000. In 2010, the Water Rats and Staples High School swimming organized “Swim for Haiti,” raising more than $45,000. And in 2013, the Water Rats “Swim for the Philippines” raised more than $43,000 for Save the Children’s Typhoon Haiyan relief fund. Senior Max Wimer, a current Staples boys swim captain — who will be swimming at Wesleyan University next year — organized the Philippines event.
“Save the Children is so grateful to have this longtime support from the Water Rats and Staples swim teams,” said Abby Safirstein, the organization’s associate director of humanitarian operations. “It was great to see all of the energy and commitment from the kids, the parents and the coaches during Swim for Nepal. Our staff in Nepal will be so appreciative of the support received from this wonderful initiative.”
Top fundraisers were the relay teams of Ella Hecker and Stella Savone, who raised $5,365, and sisters and sisters Anwara, Ayaan and Annam Olasewere, who raised $4,485. Those leading in individual fundraising were Aileen Coyne, who raised $2,705, Max Wimer, who raised $2,275 and Schachter, who raised $1,828.
Staples senior Daniel Williams swam the farthest by completing 228 laps, while North Woods, also a Staples senior, came in second with 222 laps.
Those who would like to support “Swim for Nepal” can do so by donating online at www.crowdrise.com/swimfornepal until June 19.