Resident marathons for a special cause

The clouds were starting to gather as Kim Adler, a Shelton resident, positioned herself on the edge of the boat and jumped back into the water. Her teammates cheered her on as she resumed her swim in the 15.5-mile marathon from Port Jefferson, N.Y. to Captain’s Cove, Bridgeport, for St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound.

To her and her teammates, the not-for-profit organization SWIM represents the community coming together to help each other. The event financially supports those battling cancer and their family.

The St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound helped Alder financially when she was battling colon and liver cancer at St. Vincent’s. After surgeries and chemotherapy, testing in 2014 has revealed no cancer in her body.

“I just wanted to do something in honor of being a survivor for five years and I thought, “what better way?" said Adler.

This is her second time swimming in the marathon. She first started it in 2008 but did not finish due to bad weather.

Her team called “Sink or Swim” was made up of her coworkers from St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where she works as a clinical nurse educator and received treatment.

“There are a few other hospital teams that are swimming and they have kind of catchy names to do with the hospital, but I couldn't think of anything to do and then it was like kind of "sink or swim,’” Adler said. “That's kinda like what you do when you get a life-changing diagnosis; you have to either get up and go or give up — and we are not giving up."

The team included her oncologist Dr. Neal Fischbach, Dr. Christine Van Cott who was one of her surgeons, Kristen Borgognone and Erin Fusco, who are both nurses, and Dave Malsheske, a cardiac physician assistant.

The team of coworkers strengthened their bond as they trained for the marathon.

"For me, I watch my patients struggle through enormous trials in their life and this is a small thing I'm going to struggle to and I can help my patients in an enormous way," said Van Cott.

Adler said that she enjoyed the water during the race and was glad to report no jellyfish encounters. Although in the Sound, the teammates spotted a different type of sea creature while Adler was swimming — whales. Her teammate Van Cott described it as amazing.

"I guess while I was in the water one of the whales was over,” Adler said.

Their race across the sound switched from favorable to unfavorable conditions as “Sink or Swim” was pulled onto their boat just shy of two miles from the finish line when it started lightning.

"I gotta do it next year because I have to swim in to Captain's Cove, that's my goal, I haven't done it yet,” Adler said.

She will keep the team name as she gets ready for next year’s swim to help toward a cause that affects many people’s lives.

More information for the event is available at and St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation at 203-576-5451.