That Dam Swim/Hike for Hope 2017

Back for a fourth year, Jim Cottam will be swimming the 20 mile long length of Lake Fontana on Saturday, September 23rd.  He will be joined by Jeff Kirby and Dr. Chris Lechner, who may paddle board to the lake from Bryson City.  In addition to the swimmers, Dewey Slusher and Benny Braden will be hiking the Lake Shore Trail along the northern shore through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to raise funds for the Hope Chest for Women.  Benny Braden has hiked all of the trails in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Dewey Slusher has hiked up to Mt. LeConte 241 times.  This year, 10% of funds raised will be donated to Park Ridge Hospital’s Women’s Hope Unit, a behavioral health unit that has been instrumental in helping with the mental health of Jim’s daughter, Catherine.
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That Dam Swim 2016 Press Release #2


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. Several other swimmers will be joining them for shorter intervals. 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.

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For the past two years, we have used Fundly and Facebook to fundraise for That Dam Swim for Hope. Cottam, whose wife, Debbie, is a breast cancer survivor, said, “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.” Dr. Lechner emphasized that his motivation to participate stems from being a physician who sees patients with breast cancer and his mother-in-law who is a three time breast cancer survivor. Lechner and Cottam dreamed up That Dam Swim together and Lechner is no stranger to long distance swims, having swum 95 miles across Lake Michigan in the summer of 2015 and 70 miles across Lake Michigan this summer. He calls long distance swimming meditational and relaxing and said it fulfills his need for adventure. Lechner also expressed that, “it is difficult when swimming for hours on end dealing with hunger and fatigue but it is even more difficult for a woman dealing with the challenges of breast cancer. I hope our swimming will not only raise money for this excellent organization but also encourage women who are dealing with cancer to “stay the course”!”

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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 Jim and Chris having done several very long distance swims and Jim 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!


The kind folks at Almond Boat and RV have graciously donated the use of a pontoon support boat for the day. Their dock manager, Jeff Mathis, said that while he has never been personally affected by breast cancer, the kids in the P.E. classes he taught raised about $80,000 for Jump Rope for Heart over the past fifteen years. When asked about his business’ decision to sponsor the swim, he said, “there are a lot of people that have needs that aren’t met with just money.” We have also received sponsorships from Fontana Village Resort and Marina in the form of the use of a pontoon boat and a kayak and food, water, and Gatorade from Sam’s Club.

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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 jim.cottam@mutualofomaha.com or thatdamswim@gmail.com.


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

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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 www.hopechestforwomen.org or contact:


The Hope Chest for Women

P.O. Box 5294, Asheville NC, 28813

Phone number (828) 708-3017 Fax number (828) 348-6164

Email: director@hopechestforwomen.org

Media contact: thatdamswim@gmail.com


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TDS 2017

Swimming and Hiking friends, family and fans.
It is that time of the year again!!! On September 23rd Chris Lechner and I will be attempting to swim 22+ miles across Fontana Lake. At the same time, Benny Braden and Dewey Slusher will be hiking the Lakeshore Trail(34 miles) in a single day. Benny is the current speed record holder for hiking all of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park trails and Dewey has hiked up to Mt. Leconte Lodge over 240 times. We challenge you to swim, hike, kayak, paddle board, bike, run, or walk on Sept. 23rd and think about us and the great work The Hope Chest for Women does for our LOCAL community. Are you tired of just reading about That Dam Swim? Get out your canoe, kayak, paddleboard, boat, or swim suit and join us. We can use your support along the way!! World renowned journalist John Boyle has talked his brother Billy into driving down from Virginia to dive in with us and maybe even the man himself will make a BIG SPLASH.
All to support The Hope Chest for Women, Inc.
The Hope Chest for Women was founded in 2003 to relieve some of the burdens created by breast or gynecological cancer treatment costs. We provide resources, referrals, education on cancer prevention, community and financial support. Most importantly we give hope to women in Western North Carolina living with breast or gynecological cancers.

Go on an adventure with us!

Where will you be at noon on Saturday?
I hope to be 12 miles into a 26.2 mile swim for The Hope Chest for Women. Some crazy friends and I will be attempting this swim on beautiful Lake Fontana.
You can go on the adventure with us!!!!! Just click on the link below Saturday morning and you can take the adventure with us. Follow every twist, turn and stop for food and water.

We are 82% of the way to reaching our fundraising goal. Please go to our Fundly site and consider supporting a charity that supports the women of Western North Carolina.
Please share and like our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/ThatDamSwim

Jim Cottam

Mutual of Omaha