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20th Annual Hudson River Swim For Life

Recent rainfall shortens the event, but participants still raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

"Three, two, one, swim!" yelled Dennis Chellemi over a loudspeaker. Nearly two dozen swimmers in red swim caps splashed into the Hudson River at the Philipse Manor Swim Club in Sleepy Hollow to kick off the 20th Annual Hudson River Swim For Life Saturday morning.

Safety concerns regarding the recent heavy rainfalls forced the cancellation of the event's three-mile swim across the river, but almost all participants -- about 220 -- still showed up to swim a one-mile course down to the Kingsland Point Lighthouse.

The event promotes awareness of the Hudson River and swimming as a lifelong form of fitness, and raises funds for ongoing efforts of charities in the community, according to the event Web site. The event has so far raised approximately $2 million for local non-profit organizations.

Money raised from this year's swim went to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Chellemi, who founded the event, is executive director of the society's Wetschester/Hudson Valley Chapter.

As the 200-plus swimmers stood in groups, the red caps were followed by equal-sized groups in yellow, green, orange and finally blue caps as they headed out towards two large buoys before heading south, escorted by 90 kayakers and several boats to help keep them safely on course.

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