Girls’ Swim Team Hosts Lap-a-Thon for Lion Heart

The athletes on the North Haven girls' swimming and diving team stand as one following their Pink Game against East Haven last week. The Indians later held a Lap-a-Thon for the Lion Heart Fund for Cancer Research, an organization founded by Indians' Coach Martha Phelan's sister Kathleen van Rijn, who's a two-time breast cancer survivor.

The North Haven girls' swimming and diving team held a Lap-a-Thon fundraiser for the Lion Heart Fund for Cancer Research at Gawyrch Town Pool on Oct. 6 and raised $2,314.

Founded by two-time breast cancer survivor Kathleen van Rijn, who is the sister of Indians' Coach Martha Phelan, Lion Heart supports Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and has raised over $250,000 since its inception in 2006, including more than $53,000 this year. Some funds were generated via a dinner in New York City and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in late September and then North Haven's athletes contributed to the cause by securing outright donations, as well as raising a specific amount of dollars based on how many laps they swam at the Lap-a-Thon.

Earlier in the week, the Indians held their annual Pink Game with their meet against East Haven as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Coach Phelan expressed overwhelming pride regarding her athletes' efforts.

"These women on this 2013 squad are not only enthusiastic, but so mature and really grasp why we are doing this. I haven't had to prompt them to do anything. They've made posters and food and got people to volunteer their time, in addition to the donations. They are just awesome," Phelan said. "This is a great learning experience for these girls to help people other than themselves. Life can be difficult for people and these girls understand that."

The Indians' athletes who participated in the Lap-a-Thon were senior captains Alyssa Laydon Marina Brockamer, Raechel Bathrick, and Meg Siwek; seniors Morgan Dietter, Marie Facin, and Alexia Petruzziello; juniors Francesca Consiglio, Emma Dzialo, Julia Gambardella, Olivia Marinelli, and Frances Nemeth; sophomores Rachel Buonasora, April Chen, Haley Cochrane, Brooke Dietter, Nicole Liquori, Tracy Nguy, Rebecca Sola, Hannah Tanguay, Amanda Vastarelli, and Nardine El-Gundie; and freshmen Molly Duffy, Victoria Ferraro, Ellie Mountcastle, Callyn Priebe, and Lauren Spencer.

Phelan's sister van Rijn discussed the mission of the Lion Heart Fund.

"We Lion Hearts, through the Lion Heart Fund, will support research and education and superb clinical care for all women treated in the Breast Center the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven," said van Rijn. "Our mission is to ensure that remarkable care is extended to underserved women across the diverse population at the local, regional, and national levels. This opportunity gives us the chance to truly make a difference because 100 percent of what we raise goes to areas of clinical care and research we have chosen to support, meaning that every dollar really maters."

Phelan is hosting another fundraiser through her Hamden Hall Aquatic Club swim team that will take place at the Beckerman Athletic Center from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Oct. 27. Those who wish to donate to Lion Heart may do so at


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