Local girl to compete in Swim Across America fundraiser

Submitted photo Lydia Gerdes

By Ray Hamill — Humboldt County’s Lydia Gerdes is going to swim in the San Francisco Bay this weekend as part of the Swim Across America Open Water Swim, a fundraiser for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

The 12-year-old Gerdes is a member of the Humboldt Swim Club and also a cancer survivor, and she has been fundraising for the event though social media.

Gerdes will swim 1.5 miles of the Bay along with around 200 other participants and several Olympians.

She will be teamed with four-time Olympic medalist Heather Petri of the US Water Polo team, and, according to her father Eric, she’s looking forward to the event.

“She’s pretty excited,” he said. “She’s a kid who doesn’t say much, but she’s excited about it and looking forward to meeting an Olympian and helping out the the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.”

Lydia was diagnosed with a cancer called Ewing sarcoma when she was 8 and spent eight months at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. 

“When I heard about Swim Across America, I knew I wanted to participate,” she said on her fundraising page. “On September 24, I will jump in San Francisco Bay and swim 1.5 miles to support the same oncology programs and research that saved my life.”

Lydia, who is a seventh-grader at Jacoby Creek, joined the Humboldt Swim Club the year before she was diagnosed and has been back swimming with the club since her recovery.

Saturday’s event will take place in San Francisco, starting at Little Marina Green and finishing in Aquatic Park.

For more information or to help donate, visit Lydia’s Swim Across America Facebook page or visit her Swim Across America page.

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