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Barlow Students Swim 25K for Charity

EASTON, Conn. -- Katie Cieri, a 2010 Joel Barlow High School graduate, has been swimming since she was born, competing on youth teams, with the Wilton Wahoos and for four years at Barlow, where she was the captain her senior year.

On Aug. 6, Katie will put her swimming skills to the test during St. Vincent's SWIM Across the Sound event. She and her four teammates -- Bobby Cieri, Michael Pilyugin, Lukiana Pilyugin and Olivia Fracassini -- will swim the 25K relay, each swimming about 5 kilometers.

The crew will start at West Beach in Port Jefferson, N.Y. at 9 a.m. and swim to Captains Cove in Bridgeport. They will rotate, each swimming for 20 minutes before trading off. Those not swimming will follow in a boat waiting for their turn. The five Redding residents plan on swimming the Australian Crawl Freestyle to finish the relay.

All five swimmers are lifeguards at Topstone Park in Redding. And that's how they landed on their name: Topstone Lightning ResPonders.

"I always wanted to swim a marathon," said Katie, who heard about the SWIM Across the Sound last summer. "We're aiming to keep a steady pace and not let anyone down."

Katie said she is in "decent shape" for the swim and has been practicing at a training camp at Western Connecticut State University, as well as on her own.

As of Friday, the Topstone Lightning ResPonders had raised $3,500 -- about half of their total goal. Click here to make a donation to the Topstone Lightning ResPonders. The deadline for donations is Aug. 4. The team will also host a car wash and bake sale on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the parking lot of the Party Depot at 98 Danbury Road in Ridgefield.

Katie will be a sophmore at the University of Virginia in the fall and Bobby just graduated from Duke. Lukiana is a junior at UConn Stamford, Olivia is a junior at Barlow and is on the girls swim team. Michael swims for the Wilton Wahoos as well as the Barlow Boys team and will be a senior at Barlow.

All proceeds from the St. Vincent's 24th Annual Swim Across the Sound Marathon will go to the St. Vincent's Medical Foundation. The SWIM provides cancer education, screening and prevention programs for the elderly and underserved. SWIM also helps cancer patients find wigs and prostheses, medical assistance and transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships and support groups.

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