Life Preservers

DCAC takes to the Chester River for HIV/AIDS help

While the recession may have left the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC) more than $4,000 short of its fundraising goal for this year’s Maryland Swim for Life, club member John Pacovich is hoping for a last minute surge to raise money for area charities.

”We were a lot worse off, but we’ve seen a few thousand dollars come in the last two weeks,” he says. ”We can keep fundraising up until the race — and after the race.”

Last year, the club, a volunteer-run swim team of GLBT swimmers, raised almost $21,000 with the race, and the goal for this year is $25,000. With the current tally at about $21,000 and pre-registration closing at midnight the morning of Wednesday, July 8, Pacovich is counting on a large turnout the morning of the July 11 race.

”Right now about 200 people are registered, and we’re hoping for about 250 total,” he says. ”We probably won’t have much more big fundraising, but people will still show up with that $100 check.”

The minimum donation to race is $100, and many swimmers have participated in online fundraising to raise nearly all of the current total through the event’s Web site. Swimmers had the option of setting up individual profiles to solicit donations through family and friends.

”Some people have raised the bare minimum, others have raised almost $2,000,” says Pacovich, adding that the state of the economy means that greater interest in the race and more donations aren’t translating into the higher returns the club expected. ”More swimmers have been registering, and more people have been donating, but it’s smaller donations per person, and less money raised per swimmer.”

The race begins and ends at Rolph’s Wharf, along the Chester River, in Chestertown, Md. Racers choose their own distances, from 1 to 5 miles, through warm water and minimal current. Conditions, according to DCAC, that make it perfect for swimmers of varying experience.

Proceeds from the event will go to Pediatric HIV/AIDS Care, Quality of Life Retreats, the Chester Valley River Association, the Chester Valley Ministers Association, and Heart to Hand.

”Every year, we basically do the same charities,” says Pacovich. ”It’s basically groups the DCAC board thought were appropriate to receive fundsÂ… HIV organizations, and the Chester River Association, because that’s where the race is held.”

The club also plans to award the top three male and female finishers.

Founded in 1988, the DCAC has been hosting the Maryland Swim for Life for the past eight years. With about 150 members, the group is one of the 50 largest swim teams in the U.S. and among the largest GLBT swim teams in the world.

To register for or donate to the Maryland Swim for Life online, visit www.firstgiving.com/swim4life. To learn more about the District of Columbia Aquatics Club, visit www.swimdcac.org.

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