Swimmers with green caps in line waiting to enter water with Olympic timing tower in backgroundMission accomplished for Bunke

September’s Swim Across America at Lake Lanier Olympic Park proved that a fund-raising event is about more than bringing in dollars. It was the completion of a dream for Vicki Bunke, who swam in Swim Across America events across the country in 2021 in honor of her 14-year-old daughter Grace who died of an aggressive form of bone cancer in 2018.

Bringing together more than 425 swimmers, including nine Olympians and one Paralympian, the event also saw 102 people swim in honor of Grace in 14 swims.

The $425,000 raised in 2021 brings the total raised by the Atlanta component of the national event to more than $2.5 million, money that will be used for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Bunke became the face of this year’s Atlanta swim. As organizers pulled together statistics from the event, here are some fun facts from Bunke’s journey in her own words:

  • Number of times I listened to “I’ll Take You Home” for inspiration on the tour: 43,214. This is the song written by Zac Brown Band member John Driscoll Hopkins, a family friend. A portion of the proceeds from downloads of the song are being donated to Swim Across America – Atlanta.
  • Number of Speeches: 17 since I spoke or will speak twice in St. Louis, Seattle, and Atlanta.
  • Number of times I was told ahead of time that I would be giving a speech: 5
  • Number of different types of bodies of water: 6 (bay, river, ocean, sound, reservoir, lake)
  • Number of cups of coffee consumed to stay awake: 3,126
  • Number of miles swum: 15.2 (all 1-mile events except the Larchmont 2K and 1.5 miles at Fairfield County and Kiawah Island)
  • Number of flights to participate in other 2021 Swim Across America events: 23
  • Number of road trips: 4 (Tampa, Fairfield County, Boston, Kiawah)
  • Number of media interviews: 11
  • Number of times I thought about Grace: I lost count at 100 million

Swim Across America-Atlanta will return to Lake Lanier in September 2022. Registration is open to the public. For information about Swim Across America-Atlanta, visit SwimAcrossAmerica.org.