That Dam Swim 2016 Press Release


That Dam Swim for HOPE at Fontana Dam

To Benefit The Hope Chest for Women

Increasing the distance for a third year! Jim Cottam and Dr. Chris Lechner will set out on September 17th for another long distance open water swim at Fontana Lake. Joining Jim and Chris for approximately 6.2 miles will be Todd Newnam, a parent of one of the swimmers Jim coaches, and Larry Hartley, a local attorney.  These long distance swimmers will be in the water together again to raise money and awareness for cancer survivors. This year, a portion of the money raised will also benefit WNC Aquatic Center, a new independent, not for profit/tax advantage legal entity formed to construct, maintain, and manage a multi use Aquatic Center.  

In addition, Jim has sent out a challenge to local distance runners.  Lakeshore Trail runs approximately 28 miles along the north shore of Lake Fontana.  If there are any ultra runners looking for a 28 mile challenge, they should contact Hope Chest. We would love to have them as a team on our fundraising platform, Fundly. For the past two years, we have used Fundly and Facebook to fundraise for That Dam Swim for Hope.  “I want to raise money again for The Hope Chest for Women, which pays medical and nonmedical bills for women in treatment with breast or gynecologic cancer living across Western North Carolina,” Cottam said.  


This year, Cottam and Lechner will swim an estimated 22 plus miles in 12-14 hours of swimming at Lake Fontana.  “It would be nice if we could finish between 22 and 26.2 miles” stated Cottam. Jim, whose motivation is to inspire and encourage others to join him in raising money for local cancer survivors, began training in early summer.  When asked about his motivation for participating in the swim, Todd Newnam said, “I am participating after being inspired by Jimbo and Chris having done several very long distance swims and Jimbo letting me know that the first major milestone in open water swimming is the 10k (which is considered the swimming equivalent to a marathon).”

“It is nice to know we are raising money for a local nonprofit that supports women in our community,” stated Cottam. While logging more than 20,000 strokes to reach Fontana Dam, the two longtime friends remain motivated by the stories they’ve heard of women who were dealing with cancer. With the help of 75 donors, Jim, Dave Easterling, and Frank Kriegler netted $6,475 in 2015. Added to the total of $9,365 raised in 2014, these fellows raised over $15,840 in two years!

How can you show your support and join Jim and Chris? The support team of donors, additional swimmers, kayakers and boaters will be needed again this year to help Cottam, Lechner, and Newnam reach their goals. “We will need people to join us at Fontana Lake to provide support during our long distance swim,” stated Cottam.  You can contact Jim directly to learn more about the swim and join the support team at or


Donations can be made online through The Hope Chest for Women website, through,  or via Facebook, which connects to our Fundly site. You can also send donations to The Hope Chest for Women, P.O. Box 5294, Asheville NC, 28813.

The Hope Chest for Women is a small, grass-roots local 501c3 organization trying to address an increasing number of cancer patients. To learn more about our program and make a donation, please visit our website at or contact:

The Hope Chest for Women
P.O. Box 5294, Asheville NC, 28813
Phone number (828) 708-3017 Fax number (828) 348-6164


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