Cancer Researcher Dives In to Fundraise at Swim Across America RI

by Justin Bishop '24 on November 4, 2023
Sports Co-Editor


This past Saturday, Swim Across America held its 14th annual swim at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Swim Across America was founded in 1987 and held its first open water event in Long Island Sound. “In its 36 years of making waves to fight cancer, more than 100,000 swimmers and 150 Olympians have swam the circumference of the Earth three times, uniting a movement to fight cancer that has created a groundswell of support spanning all generations. Today, more than 24 communities hold open water swims and hundreds of charity pool swims each year, from Nantucket to under the Golden Gate Bridge, which support innovative cancer research, detection, and patient programs. Swim Across America is built on a fundamental value that money raised in a community stays in that community. This value creates a grassroots community feel for each of our charity swims. Each charity swim is partnered with an academic or research hospital within the community that serves as the beneficiary,” states the charity website. Swim Across America has granted nearly $100 million and has heavily funded the advancement of immunotherapy, personalized medicine, gene sequencing, and patient programs such as adolescent and youth survivorship. This past event has raised a total of $273,007, 99 percent of their goal of $275,000, with the Providence College Swim & Dive team raising over $54,300, which is $26,000 more than the next group in the “Team Honor Roll.”

     The Sports Section at The Cowl was contacted by a representative of Swim Across America to let us know that there is another important factor in this event. Jenifer Howard wrote to us about how a PhD student in Cancer Immunology participated and volunteered at the event on Saturday. Payton De La Cruz is a Providence resident who currently attends Brown University where she works on translational research in early-stage breast and gynecologic cancer. “I’ve swam recreationally my entire life, so I was excited to learn that Swim Across America funds the Woman and Infants Hospital labs I work in under Drs. Kate Grive and Nicole James,” said Payton in a recent interview. “Swim Across America’s mission aligns with my values, and its support of our translational research in early-stage breast and gynecologic cancer has been vital.” Payton earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in environmental health at Boston University. Besides her academic studies and cancer research, she is an avid rower and coordinates science outreach programs for students in underrepresented communities. She also sits on Swim Across America’s Rhode Island event planning committee. Earlier this year, she attended the Swim Across America national leadership summit, and subsequently joined the associate board, which supports the nonprofit’s mission by fostering student and community engagement through initiatives such as the new College Ambassador Program. Payton took part in this year’s event by swimming as a part of the One Fin Tunas which is captained by Dr. David Edmonson, the director of Women & Infants’ Lymphedema program in Providence.

            If you would like to donate to Swim Across America or want to learn more, visit A special thank you to Jenifer Howard for contacting us about this great event and story.