Center for Community Engagement

Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams take on seventh annual Hour of Power

Story by Reilly Horan '13, photos by Eugene Lee '16

Even for seasoned swimmers, the Hour of Power is a grueling team workout: an hour of continuous relays, using a variety of strokes, intended to end in complete exhaustion.  On November 13, over 8,000 student-athletes nationwide dove into the pool to participate in the Ted Mullin Hour of Power Relay for Sarcoma Research.  That translates to 180 teams—at the high school and collegiate level—that aid in the Ted Mullin Fund’s biggest annual fundraiser.  Amherst was one of those teams, and has been since the event was created seven years ago.

The Hour of Power was created by the Carleton College men’s and women’s swimming and diving team in November 2006 to honor their teammate, Ted Mullin, who died in September of the same year from sarcoma, a rare form of cancer of connective tissues.

For Amherst’s own assistant swimming and diving coach Karin Brown, this cause is a particularly poignant one.  Brown was a junior on the swim team at Carleton College when Mullin passed away.  As a co-captain, she helped initiate the first Hour of Power at Carleton, and has ensured Amherst’s continued participation since she started coaching five years ago.

“When Ted lost his battle with sarcoma, we wanted to do something amongst our team and in our conference to honor him.  The Hour of Power is our tribute to him,” Brown explains.  “Sarcoma is a rare cancer that effects young people; it’s a really powerful thing to see the swimming community rallying to support this cause.”

Teams raise funds by securing sponsors or selling merchandise that raises awareness about the event. All funds are donated to the Ted Mullin Fund, who in turn supports sarcoma research at the University of Chicago.

“Ted was treated at the University of Chicago,” Brown explains. “Since then, they’ve opened an adolescent and young adult center for sarcoma there that was largely funded by the Ted Mullin Fund. They recently started an internship program for student-athletes who compete in the Hour of Power to work as research assistants for doctors in their medical center. It’s an incredible place.”

On the night of the Hour of Power, as the clock in Pratt Pool counted down to the start of the workout, all the Amherst swimmers gathered at one side of the pool to listen to Brown’s kickoff speech. It’s one of the only times in their season that all sixty-three swimmers on the teams gather in the same pool at the same time.

Brown stood on the edge of the pool and shared Ted Mullin’s story and how important it is to her that Amherst participates in this tribute and fundraiser every year.  After shouting to the group that they should give every ounce of their energy into this next hour, she grabbed her swim cap and goggles and joined one of the lanes.

Two of Amherst’s co-captains, Will McCartan '13 and Annie Glancy '13, reflect on their fourth Hour of Power and how much they value their coach’s close ties with the cause.

“I feel a lot more connected to this event because Karin is so passionate about it,” Glancy comments. “What’s cool about it is Karin knew the swimmer that it honors; something that she started has grown to be such a big and powerful event.”

“We’re really lucky to have Karin help capture the true spirit of the event for us, to have her talk to us every year about who Ted was as a person and swimmer,” McCartan furthers.  “She always gets in the pool and swims a few laps with us.  And she beats most of us, too.”

This year, the team designed Hour of Power tank tops and each team member purchased one for the event. All the funds from the merchandise sale went to the fund.

Anna Pietrantonio ’14, one of the swimmers who helped design the tank top and organize the event, comments on how special the event is. “We found a cause that’s very relatable to all of us: it’s a swimming event, it’s in honor of a college student, and it’s about a disease that can affect people our age.”

Pietrantonio speaks to an important point about the effectiveness of community engagement, especially in the athletic department: the necessity of finding a cause that teams can be passionate about and rally around on a consistent basis.

“Community engagement gives your team a shared purpose, a common cause to get behind other than the sport that you play,” McCartan explains. “The Hour of Power gives us another, more important reason to push ourselves through a painful workout.  Karin has described to us how Ted persevered during treatment.  When we get tired, it kind of gets put in perspective: there just aren’t any excuses.”

Reilly Horan ’13 is one of three Athletics Liaisons for the Center for Community Engagement. Athletics Liaisons connect athletes and coaches to the resources of the Center for Community Engagement and work to create a sustainable culture of service within the Athletics Department. For more information, visit Athletes in the Community. If your team is looking for community engagement projects, contact Roshard Bryant ’13 at rbryant13@amherst.edu or Irene Hickey ’13 at ihickey13@amherst.edu for advice and resources.

If your team just completed a community engagement event, contact Reilly Horan ’13 at rhoran13@amherst.edu so that the campus becomes more aware of what your team is doing to get involved.  For more information, visit the Athletics Liaisons' webpage.