The Swimming Community Rallies Behind Soren, A 6 Year-Old Swimmer Diagnosed With Cancer

The swimming community has always been very close knit. When the UNC-Wilmington Internal Athletic Review Committee recommended that the men’s and women’s swim teams be cut in order to save money, a campaign was launched and the swimming community rallied together to save the programs. The leaders of the fight to save the swimming programs gathered over 14,000 signatures, had over 18,000 views on their website, and generated thousands of dollars to save UNCW Swimming and Diving between May 15th and May 30th of 2013.

The swimming community is at it again, this time to raise money for a six year old swimmer named Soren Cooper. In July, a first grader named Soren was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer. His family is deeply rooted within the swimming community. His mother, Erika Cooper, is the coach of the Great Bay Masters Club and the Aquatics Director at the University of New Hampshire. His father, Vaughan Cooper, is a professor at the University of New Hampshire and a triathlete who is frequently seen around the pool. When Jenny Priester and Nicole Benson, both swimmers at the Great Bay Masters Club, learned of Soren’s condition, they organized a fund-raiser to help cover the costs of Soren’s medical treatment and travel expenses.

One Million Meters For Soren was created and swimmers of all ages gathered to support Soren. On September 8th in Dover, New Hampshire at the Jenny Thompson Pool, swimmers of all ages gathered to swim. Each swimmer pledged a number of meters and raised money for every meter they swam. The University of New Hampshire’s women’s swim team participated in the fundraiser.

As the news of the event spread, a virtual component of the event took off, offering an online option. The Cooper’s have family outside of New Hampshire and many friends involved within the swimming community from out of town that wanted to show their support as well. As Soren’s story spread throughout the county, swimmers were inspired to support the Cooper family, even though they had never met.

For anyone who would like to swim for Soren, the organizers encourage you to go to your local swimming pool and swim as long and far as you want. Then have a picture taken of you, holding a piece of paper or a whiteboard with your name, how far you swam, and an inspirational message for Soren.

You can send that picture to [email protected]. For more information about One Million Miles for Soren, or if you wish to donate, visit their website by clicking here. All donations will go towards the Cooper families’ medical expenses and travel costs. Soren is being treated at Boston’s Children Hospital.

As of September 25th, 2013, the official count for Soren is 1,020,683 meters, more than 20,000 meters over their original goal!

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Great story. There is a lot that can be done in the swimming community for children like Soren. Take a look at Club Wolverine’s Gold Group ( which has recently spawned similar groups at Duke and Notre Dame. The goal is to provide free or very low cost swimming oppotunities to any children undergoing long term care for a chronic condition like cancer. Exercise in general, and swimming in particular is very therapeutic in that it keeps kids strong to be able to tolerate their treatment.


Both parents are employed by the University of NH & therefore one must be on top level insurance plans.

Why are these funds not covering the costs?

It appears to me that these parents are up near the elite of America – the world’s richest nation in a wealthy state with easy access to world class treatment centres. If misfortune falls these folk are the best able to handle the load.

Yes families take a hit but do they really need this swim charity?

America is not a nation of paupers where every cancer diagnoses requires charity drives – surely?


Really – JG?

You going out on a limb there with your assumptions.

Have you had a family member with a major medical issue? I have and I had great insurance. It totaled $15,000 out of pocket cost and this was just a two week stay in hospital for E-Coli.

You’re forgetting about travelling, hotel stays, child care for other children and lost of income for that period of time.

You should think before you assume!


When a child has a significant illness, usually one of the parents has to take an extended leave. Insurance pays a portion of the cost of treatment not all. That is why St Jude Children’s Research Hospital is so incredible. Families never have to pay a dime for treatment or lodging while they are in treatment. But the loss of one parent’s income in a two income family can be devastating.

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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