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LI swimmers cross the Sound at annual fundraiser for cancer patients

Larry Ahlgren, of St. James, stands on his

Larry Ahlgren, of St. James, stands on his escort boat in Port Jefferson, before attempting to swim from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport, on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Swimmers hit the surf in Port Jefferson on Saturday in the 28th annual Swim Across the Sound to help support cancer patients.

Larry Ahlgren of St. James was among the swimmers participating in the event sponsored by St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Ahlgren, 60, has been involved with the marathon since 2007 and completed his fourth solo attempt Saturday.

His goal was "just to finish" the swim, which he did in 8 hours and 17 minutes, said Ahlgren, a department supervisor at Home Depot in South Setauket.

After the swim, Ahlgren said he was "absolutely exhausted, a little sunburned and very, very tired" but it was for a good cause.

Through sponsors, he said he hoped to raise as much as $2,000 for cancer programs.

Ahlgren swam for Stony Brook University and Connetquot High School. He said he prepared for the swim his entire life. His father had him swimming "since before I could walk," he said.

Ahlgren said he had known several people who died of the disease, including Dave Alexander, the longtime Stony Brook University swim coach and founder of its women's swimming and diving program who died in 2012 after a two-year battle with appendix cancer.

According to boat operations officer Mike Herrington, who helped coordinate the swim that launched about 8:30 a.m. from Danford's Marina, 87 boats were on the water to help guide and escort swimmers.

Lyn McCarthy, an event coordinator, said 140 swimmers took part. The fastest team was Hopkins School's Hilltoppers from Connecticut -- at 5 hours, 54 minutes, 32 seconds. The team also had the youngest swimmer -- a 15 year old.

She said the amount raised from the event will be totaled in about a week.

The event, according to its website, also helps individual cancer patients "with specific needs, such as the funding of wigs and prostheses, medication assistance, free transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships and support groups. The swim does not support research."

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths in the United States in 2015.

The total number of swimmers and amount raised was not immediately available Saturday.

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