Swim for the Light

Grace Hull, Ashleigh Baros and Jack Sorenson at the 2021 event. 

 

With help from a few Brophy swimmers, Xavier’s second annual Swim for the Light campaign raised $10,000 to change the conversation about mental illness and decrease its debilitating stigma. 

The virtual swim relay event was created in 2020 by Xavier graduate Kelly Scott. When a friend, suffering emotionally from lockdown, confided in her, Scott took action and spearheaded the campaign.

This year, the co-captain of Xavier’s 2021 swim and dive team, Ashleigh Baros, took over and re-created the event. She encouraged swimmers of all ages to videotape themselves swimming. Using Brophy’s pool, the participants executed three relays, with four on a team. They each swam 100 minutes or four 25-meters. 

The 100 yards they swam raised funds to match donations earmarked for Valleywise Health Foundation, Arizona’s public teaching health system. Word of mouth quickly spread through friends, family, social media and promotion from Valleywise. The only caveat Baros insisted upon was that the money raised had to go toward teens and younger people’s mental health programs. 

Like Scott, Baros empathized with her fellow students and others she knew who were adversely affected. 

“Teens I knew were becoming depressed, feeling anxious, and experiencing alienation,” she said. “That’s when I decided to keep Swim for the Light going. It meant a lot to me since I was watching my friends struggle. I feel this is a very important topic since we need good mental health for good physical health. The whole purpose is about changing the conversation.”

The fundraiser also injected a healthy dose of fun into the event. Participants could swim in tandem, with one person holding on to another, for a 50-meter relay. They could do a 25-meter corkscrew, freestyle or backstroke. 

“Ashleigh did an excellent job and rallied the swim team’s participation,” said Sister Lynn Winsor BVM, CMAA, vice principal for activities and athletic director. “We are really proud of her for keeping what is now a two-year tradition and helping Valleywise Health to provide mental health services to teens and young adults. Hopefully, it will continue in the future.”

Ashleigh recently received an academic and athletic scholarship that she can use at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, where she plans to major in nursing. She also plans to continue swimming. 

valleywisefoundation.org