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Laps for labs: RCHS swim team raises money for cancer research

By Amanda Brauchler, RCHS intern writer; photo courtesy of Nicole Vanderpoel

Photo of RCHS Jag-A-Thon

The Rock Canyon High School girls swim team participated in its third annual Jag-A-Thon last month at Colorado Athletic Club Inverness. The team swam more than a mile to raise money for Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders through Swim Across America.

It was only 46 degrees outside when 27 swimmers jumped into the outdoor pool at Colorado Athletic Club Inverness on January 3. The group from the Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) girls swim team started their new year off by participating in the third annual Jag-A-Thon. The fundraiser operates through Swim Across America and raises money for Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD).

The RCHS girls swim team head coach, Nicole Vanderpoel also works as Swim Across America Denver’s co-event director and helped to organize the event. The team raised $1,500 through cash and check donations. This funds two research projects for CCBD.

Nora Hopfer marked her second year participating in the event by being the top fundraiser, raising $350 for the cause. Hopfer is currently on the junior varsity team and has aspirations of achieving varsity soon. Hopfer’s grandmother is a survivor of breast and lung cancer, which motivated her to participate in the event.

“It hits close to home,” Hopfer said. “I wanted to raise as much money as I could for helping other people whose family members have cancer. Fundraising is actually really fun; I enjoy seeing the community get together to spread awareness,” Hopfer added.

During the 90-minute event, the team swam 80 laps, equaling 2,000 yards or about 1.14 miles. “It was pretty challenging, but having my friends by my side definitely made it more fun,” Elise Barton said. “The cause is important to me because even though I don’t know anyone who has had cancer, I know how hard it must be for the people who have it, so contributing to cancer research definitely helps,” Barton added.

“Throughout our workout, we were reminded of the impact that we were making and who we were doing it for,” Ashley Glader said. Glader also plans on participating in an open water event for Swim Across America this fall. “Although the set we were doing may have been hard, we were doing it for those who couldn’t.”

Since its founding in 1987, Swim Across America has donated more than $85 million to cancer research and clinical trials. For more information about Swim Across America or to donate, visit



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