Wheaton North Grad to Swim English Channel
Her uncle has been a survivor. Now Marian Cardwell, 22, of Wheaton hopes to beat the odds by successfully swimming the English Channel in July and, at the same time, raise $45,000 to benefit Type 1 Diabetes research.
Cardwell, who is teaching English in a French high school prior to pursing medical school, will attempt this “swim of her life” Her swim is scheduled the week of July 10-18, but everything depends on the currents and the weather. She won’t know the day her attempt will take place until about 12 hours in advance.
Her swim is intended to raise awareness for diabetes research. Her goal in swimming the English Channel is to support the research her uncle sees most promising: the Chicago Diabetes Project.
“Every hour I train and every mile I swim represents my effort to honor his battle and to support this cause dear to his heart,” she said. “When I was 15, I had the normal worries of a teenager, but when my Uncle Wally was 15, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and faced a lifetime of insulin dependency.”
Now in his 70s, her uncle Wally Filkin has pushed the limits, exceeded expectations and astonished physicians.
“After living with diabetes for 57 years, my uncle has benefited from incredible advances in medicine concerning this disease,” Cardwell said. “Now he awaits a cure. Not a cure for him, but for other 15-year-olds who will be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.”
Cardwell, 22, started swimming competitively for the Wheaton Park District Barracudas when she was five. She later joined the Wheaton Swim Club. In college she was a member of the College of Dupage Swim Team and was a distance swimmer for the Calvin College Swim Team in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she graduated with degrees in biochemistry and French.
“Even though I face an unprecedented distance - approximately 25 miles in just 60 degree water - my training has given me the determination necessary to be successful,” Cardwell, a Wheaton North graduate, said. “My mentality will remain the same. I’ll find my pace and take it one stroke at a time. Instead of finishing at a wall, I’ll be finishing in France.”
Marian’s uncle is no stranger to the greater Wheaton community. Now retired from investment banking, Wally Filkin has served on administrative boards for Central DuPage Hospital, the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision, Chicago’s Swedish Covenant Hospital, and Wheaton College Alumni Association.
Estimates show about 1,300 people have successfully crossed the Channel since the first crossing in 1875. However, only 20- to 30-percent of Channel swims are successful. Cardwell hopes hers will be among them.
Once it is her turn, Cardwell will meet the official boat pilot at the dock with his crew, along with her mother and two friends.
“We will board the boat and head over to the starting point. According to Channel rules, I must start and finish on the two shores. Before jumping into the water, wearing nothing but a simple bathing suit, my crew will coat me in grease to provide insulation and to prevent chafing,” said Cardwell.
Once on the English shore, she will wait for the official start horn. The hope is that within 12-14 hours, Cardwell will arrive on the French shore and hear a second horn designating that she has completed the approximately 25 mile swim. During the actual swim, her crew will keep her nourished and hydrated and she will stop every 20-30 minutes for about 30 seconds to drink and eat something quickly.
According to Cardwell, “I will have succeeded if I sense that I had nothing left physically to give and if I know I did everything possible to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes and for the incredible work the Chicago Diabetes Project is doing.”
For more information on the benefit swim, visit www.doverandover.com. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit the Chicago Diabetes Project and diabetes research.
Courtesy of The Chicago Diabetes Project