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Ultra-swimmer Viemeister competes in ‘Gills for Gilda’

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Gazette staff
June 29, 2011

As an ultra-swimmer, Alison Viemeister competes with a purpose.


The 1984 Janesville Craig graduate has endured numerous Ironman competitions and thrives in the open water.


Last Friday, Viemeister swam with a special purpose. She was part of a nine-member swim and nine-member kayak team that swam and paddled six miles across Lake Mendota in Madison as part of the fourth annual “Gills for Gilda” fundraiser.


The event raises money for Gilda’s Club—a cancer support community set up to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community. Viemeister’s mother, Sandra, is a 30-year cancer survivor. Her uncle, Thomas, died less than two weeks ago from brain and lung cancer.


“I felt very strongly and was honored to be apart of this event because it hit so close to home,” Viemeister said. “I wrote on my arms the names of family and friends who have battled the disease.


“We exceeded our (fundraising) goal for this year, and I’m already looking forward to coming back next year. It’s such a great cause.”


Viemeister’s team finished the 6-mile swim in three hours and 33 minutes, which eclipsed the previous fastest time by 45 minutes. Swimmers and kayakers battled 2-to 3-foot waves and a water temperature of 65 degrees.


Viemeister, a Janesville resident, began hardcore training for the swim in April. Several swimmers got seasick during Friday’s swim from the pounding waves and cold water. Viemeister avoided any nausea during the swim but had trouble with the cold water and getting warmed up.


“Gills for Gilda” has raised over $2,500 from this year’s event with more money coming in. Anyone interested in donating or finding out more about Gilda’s Club can find information at www.firstgiving.com/GildasClubMadison/gills-for-gildas-2011.

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