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Somerset County YMCA - HomeFor Youth Development; For Healthly Living; For Social Responsibility

Helping You Live Better

Cancer Survivor and Triathlete Gets Support from the Y's U.S. Masters Swimming Program

by Barbara Russo | May 30, 2019
Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly is a lifelong athlete. As a runner, triathlete and swimmer, Chris is strong and in great shape. As a cancer survivor, he’s also a warrior.

Chris had just joined the U.S. Masters Swimming program at Hillsborough YMCA and was preparing for an Ironman when he found out he had cancer in May of 2015. His diagnosis was stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Needing to start treatment right away, he had to put his racing plans on hold, but stayed with Masters Swimming because of the support the group provided at a time when he needed it most.

“After my diagnosis, I tried to stay as normal as I was before. I knew my body was getting weaker, but I had to continue my workouts,” Chris said. “The Masters Swimming staff kept me motivated. They watched out for me. Every day they’d ask me how I was feeling. They understood the athlete in me wanted to push forward, but they were so helpful and accommodating when I got tired.”

Chris, who is also a former mayor of Franklin Township, continued participating in Masters Swimming while undergoing cancer treatment for the next two years. The camaraderie of the group helped him stay positive. He also wanted to work on improving his swimming techniques for when it was time to start racing again.

“Being around people really helped. I was never as motivated practicing alone as I was with the group,” he said.

Chris credits the support he received from his family, friends and the Y with helping him through the toughest battle of his life. His last treatment was in January 2018. He’s now in remission and back to racing. He recently participated in the Y’s indoor USATri60 program, requiring participants to give it their all for 10 minutes in the pool, 30 minutes on the bike and a 20-minute run. He’s also got several other races planned.

“Masters Swimming is a judgment-free zone. People of all athletic abilities can participate, whether they are training for an Ironman or just enjoy the camaraderie within the group. I’m really happy to be part of such a supportive group.”

- Barbara Russo

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