Macarthur residents urged to dive into ocean swim to support cancer research

Craig Dwyer (centre) with his sons Brad (left) and Mitch after completing the 2019 Macquarie Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.
Craig Dwyer (centre) with his sons Brad (left) and Mitch after completing the 2019 Macquarie Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

Macarthur residents are being urged to step out of their comfort zones and make a splash to support cancer research.

The Can Too Foundation will host a new learn to ocean swim program at Bradbury's Gordon Fetterplace Aquatic Centre.

The training group, known as a pod, was founded in memory of Glen Alpine resident Natalie Dwyer.

Natalie and her husband Craig Dwyer hoped to complete their first ocean swim together in 2013 but she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer before she could undertake the challenge.

Mr Dwyer said that he could still remember where he was when he received the shocking news.

His wife had been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma - a soft tissue cancer which can develop in muscle, fat or blood vessels.

"I rushed from work to meet her with the GP and within 24 hours we were in front of the gastrointestinal surgeon," Mr Dwyer said.

"Natalie unfortunately had to withdraw from the program after five weeks."

Mrs Dwyer was on the beach cheering Mr Dwyer on whilst he completed the 2014 Macquarie 'Big Swim'.

"She was waiting on the beach only six weeks after major surgery," he said.

Mentor Jodi Vallak, the late Natalie Dwyer and team captain Ian Bond at the 2014 Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

Mentor Jodi Vallak, the late Natalie Dwyer and team captain Ian Bond at the 2014 Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

"Despite the brave face and beautiful smile Natalie was unwell.

"She was back in hospital days later to get her pain under control and start aggressive chemo.

"Natalie was given six to 12 months after her diagnosis. Our reasons for taking part in Can Too then changed considerably. I will always be grateful to my extended Can Too family for their support.

"Can Too helped me to not just stay physically fit but mentally strong.

"We lived by a mantra we adopted with our Can Too program - 'just keep swimming'."

Natalie lost her long battle with cancer in August 2018.

"It was Natalie's wish for me to continue with Can Too," Mr Dwyer said.

"She knew how important it was for me to raise awareness and support of cancer research, and for my own health and wellbeing."

Craig completed last year's Macquarie Big Swim, six months to the day after his wife passed, on what would have been their 28th wedding anniversary.

"It was a tough day but good to have my boys there supporting me," he said.

"So far with my sons we've proudly raised over $21,000 for Can Too and we will continue to raise funds in Natalie's honour."

To celebrate his late wife's memory, Mr Dwyer is bringing Can Too to Macarthur.

Budding ocean swimmers will be trained by professional coaches and supported by team captains, mentors and water safety crew with the goal of completing an ocean swim in 12 weeks and raise funds for Australian cancer research.

The program starts on November 6.

Training sessions will be held at the Gordon Fetterplace Aquatic Centre and Elouera Beach weekly.

To learn how to ocean swim and support Can Too, visit: https://www.cantoo.org.au/swim