BOSTON (WHDH) - Swimmers from across the country populated the waters of South Boston on Saturday as part of a Swim Across America event to raise funds for cancer research.

“This is an annual event that I do. It’s my 16th year participating as a volunteer and swimmer,” said Jen Downing. “I’m doing two races next weekend.”

Saturday’s event was Boston’s 27th year hosting the event but it was the first time the swimmers would conquer Castle Island’s Pleasure Bay. Participants had the choice of opting from anywhere between a half-mile and two-mile swim.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the David B. Perini Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General for Children.

Katharine Lundblad flew all the way from Seattle to participate in the event. The swimmer swam two miles in honor of her aunt, Christine Lundblad, who conquered kidney cancer with the help of Mass General.

“This is just a really cool cause and we’re supporting one of the best hospitals in the country,” she said, slightly out of breath after her swim.

“Well I feel very emotional. I’m really grateful. I’m grateful for this whole event because it does highlight the peoples experience with cancer,” said Christine Lundblad.

Rick Osterbeg was stationed as a volunteer on the beach Saturday as he has for many Swim Across America events over the years. But recently, he has become even closer to the cause.

“I have been involved with Swim Across America for a number of years and then it became very personal in 2018 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer,” Osterberg said.

After Osterberg’s cancer recurred in 2020, he was treated with Keytruda, an antibody medication brought to market, in part, due to Swim Across America’s fundraising efforts.

“It is a night and day difference from what I went through with chemotherapy to this immunotherapy treatment,” Osterberg said. “Similar drugs and similar techniques are finding applications and are improving outcomes all over the world.”

Saturday’s event raised over $3,000 for cancer research.

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