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Benefit for cancer

For all women who have suffered from cancer, or for women and
men who have lost a loved one to the deadly disease, there is a way
to help out the community by swimming a mile here at Mills

Since 1998, the Mills swim team has hosted the annual
Swim-A-Mile fundraiser with the Women’s Cancer Resource Center
(WCRC) to raise money for women’s cancer research. The event, to be
held at the Trefethen Aquatic Center on October 4th and 5th, is a
non-competitive fundraising pledge event for swimmers of all ages
and abilities.

Aquatic director Carol Berendsen said, “We do what we can to
raise money for the WCRC. Basically, we [Mills] support this event
by offering our swimming pool facilities. People come from all
over, from as far north as Sacramento, down to San Jose. It’s a
wonderful event with hundreds of people swimming for the same

When asked about Swim-A-Mile in general, Berendsen felt that the
event was not only a noble cause, but a very touching one.

“There are many people who take part in this event in memories
of their loved ones. There was a man last year, who had a picture
of his wife who had lost her battle to breast cancer at the end of
the pool, and every time he finished a lap, he would reach up and
touch the picture. Others write messages on their bodies or on
posters. So many inspiring moments take place here,” Berendsen

According to a representative at the WCRC, each participant must
raise a minimum of $150 and record pledges on a form. Not everyone
who participates has to swim exactly a mile; it is up to the
swimmer. Participants are also welcome to participate as an
organized team, with a minimum of four people.

“A mile in the pool is about 70 lengths. Most people take around
45 minutes or so to complete that. More experienced swimmers
usually take less time, but most people get it done in less than an
hour,” said Berendsen.

Head swim coach Neil Virtue was also very excited about the
upcoming event, as he mentioned that by last weekend, at least 400
people had already signed up, in contrast to the 250 people that
had signed up around the same time last year.

“In addition to Mills hosting the event, the swim team also
offers ‘stroke clinics,’ in which we help people who will be
participating to improve their swimming techniques,” said

Virtue also said, “It’s a two day event and it starts early in
the morning till around 5:00 p.m., so people usually come and go.
There’s usually enough room, even though there’ll be more than 400
people taking part. Not everyone will be there at the same time, so
it works out.”

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the
fundraising event, or would like to participate, should contact
Neil Virtue at