Eric Shanteau acknowledges the crowd from the podium after setting a new American record while winning the finals of the men's 200 meter breaststroke at the U.S. National Swimming Championships in Indianapolis, Saturday, July 11, 2009.
IF YOU GO
What: Eric Shanteau’s Swim For Your Life cancer fundraiser
When: Saturday, 7 a.m. registration, 9:30 a.m. first race
Where: Lake Lanier Islands
For more information: shanteauopenwater.com
After he finished his second Olympic appearance this summer, swimmer Eric Shanteau turned his attention to his other serious quest --cancer awareness.
The Parkview grad, whose well-documented battle with the disease captivated the nation during the 2008 Olympics, took sole control of his own marquee event, Eric Shanteau's Swim For Your Life, over the past year. His work on the now three-year-old open water swimming races and clinic will be on display Saturday at Lake Lanier Islands.
"My management company did a great job with it before, getting it off the ground," said the 28-year-old, who will be joined by eight of his fellow Olympic swimmers. "I went to my agent to discuss it and he said, 'If you're comfortable with it, you can have it. You can manage it.' He and his team did an awesome job in transition because I wanted to do that. It's got my name on it and I want to be as invested in it as I can."
Under Shanteau's sole control, the fundraiser is bigger than ever.
It kicked off in 2010 with 74 participants and grew to 230 in Year 2. Earlier this week, pre-registration for Saturday's event pushed to nearly 500. Its continued success means that a return to Lake Lanier for future events is a lock.
"It's huge," Shanteau said of the event's growth. "It's growing a lot, which is great. I'm thrilled. This was a big turning point for us because we started this with a three-year plan. It's gone so well that we'll be able to come back in the future. If people keep coming out, we'll keep hosting it."
Shanteau, who won a relay gold medal in this summer's Olympics, got the idea for an open water swim through his involvement with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He competed in a cycling fundraiser and hoped to have a similar event in the swimming world.
It's worked out great so far.
This schedule this weekend features 1K and 5K open water races, followed by a clinic for youth swimmers and a 12-and-under open-water race. The clinic will be run by Shanteau and his Olympic friends --a selling point is that he has a world record-holder teaching every stroke --who also will swim in the open-water races.
The Olympians joining Shanteau this weekend include Brookwood grad Amanda Weir, Rebecca Soni, Aaron Peirsol, Mark Gangloff and Kathleen Hersey.
"All the Olympians will be busy," Shanteau said. "They will be racing in the 1K and 5K races, doing all the clinics and doing the 12-and-under swim."
In addition to the races and clinic, Swim For Your Life will feature lunch and a silent auction of sports memorabilia. Though pre-registration is over, swimmers can still sign up for the fundraiser during registration Saturday at 7 a.m.