Swim Team Makes Big Splash With Hour of Power

Kelsey Peck

Photo by Rachael Barton

Last Tuesday, Nov. 12, collegiate, high school and club swim teams all over the country participated in the Hour of Power, a charity event to raise both money and awareness for sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue disease that takes effect all over the world, primarily in young people.

The event began in 2006 after Carleton College swimmer Ted Mullin passed away from the disease. Since then, the Carleton Knights swim team has created and organized the Hour of Power event, a swim relay that takes place for one common hour all over the country. Since its beginning, the event has exploded in popularity, expanding from 15 teams in 2006 to 171 teams in 2012, including six international squads. Despite its humble beginnings, the Hour of Power is now a very significant part of the competitive swimming world.

This year, along with past years, the Whitman College swim team was one of the hundreds of teams to participate in the event, dedicating an hour of their time to the relay.

“It was a great change from normal practice, being able to give back to the community in something I love,” said sophomore swimmer Ruth Thirkill.

At the time of the event, the swim team gathered at the pool and lined up behind each pool lane. When the hour began, the swimmers dove into the pool, each swimming lap after lap as the relay continued throughout the hour.

“It’s a great feeling to be involved in something that spans across colleges all around the nation and to be able to offer our support to those in need,” said sophomore captain Sam Starr.

The event included constant cheering, music and laughter that created an enjoyable atmosphere for both the team and the supporters. According to the swimmers, half the fun of the event is celebrating their sport, their team and the impact that swimming has on their own lives.

“We’re a competitive team and want to swim fast, but this event encourages us to acknowledge and appreciate the bigger picture,” said senior captain Ellen Banks.

The event was about much more than getting reps in the pool.

Photo by Rachael Barton

“With all that goes on during the school day, it’s easy to take things for granted. The Hour of Power is an important reminder of how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. I’m so lucky to hop in the pool and push my body to its limits with a group of people that I care so much about,” said Banks, who was very involved in this year’s event.

While the Hour of Power is specifically meant to raise money and awareness for sarcoma, it is clear that it also brings unity to swimmers all over the country and celebrates the sport and teams they love.

At the end of the annual event, the money raised is collectively sent as a seed fund to the University of Chicago’s pediatric sarcoma research program. In 2006, the year the event began, $11,000 was raised and sent to the university. But with the takeoff of the event, the donation has grown exponentially. In 2012, the event raised $83,000, and over the first seven years it has raised $410,000 for the university’s program.

While it is easy to get caught up in daily routine and chores, the Hour of Power reminds the Whitman swim team how important it is to look at the bigger picture, give back to the community and enjoy every moment of the sport they love. They plan to participate in the event for years to come.

Photo by Rachael Barton