The Foran, Jonathan Law and Lauralton Hall girls swim teams, in the midst of state championship season, are coming off a regular slate that included not just hard individual work toward best times and qualifications, but also a tremendous collective effort for a great cause.

Natural, friendly rivals when they compete in the pool, on Oct. 13 these swimmers joined forces to support the Lion Heart Fund for Cancer Research, which raises money to support breast cancer research and care at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven.

The teams held a Lap-A-Thon at Foran’s pool and combined to raise over $11,000. Lion Heart accepts donations through November.

“Since there were three teams using the pool, each team had two lanes to use for each session. While not swimming, the girls enjoyed pink snacks and drinks donated by parents,” Law coach Molly Anderson said.

Girls swam in 20-minute sessions throughout the two-hour event during which the participants were all winners.

“The girls felt a sense of pride to work hard for a cause,” Lauralton coach Fran Pfeiffer said. “I’m very proud of the effort. It was great for three teams in Milford to come together for a cause. Very friendly atmosphere.

“The girls from the three schools practice at Foran, but are like ships passing in the night. The combined Lap-A-Thon gave them the opportunity to spend a couple of hours together over Gatorade and donuts. It was a nice Saturday morning.”

All of the Southern Connecticut Conference teams participate in a lap-a-thon during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“Lion Heart is a foundation at Smilow that provides research grants to doctors looking to find new ways to treat and hopefully cure breast cancer,” Foran coach Kristin Skuches said. “One hundred percent of all money raised goes directly to research grants.

It's been a great way for all of the SCC teams to show camaraderie for one joint cause. Last year the SCC girls’ teams raised approximately $30,000 for Lion Heart. It's great to know that our three teams have significantly contributed to the league total.”

Fundraising was done via word of mouth, including through social media. Friends and families made generous donations to assist the efforts.

“Many coaches and athletes have been impacted by the disease, and it is such an important cause for our girls to support,” Anderson said.

Skuches said: “It's a disease that sadly has affected someone all of us know and they're seeing that together they can make a difference.”

The change of pace from regular meet and practice routines is an important one.

“The coaches feel that above swimming fast times and winning meets we are teaching our athletes to be generous, kind and empathetic,” Anderson said. “We love doing this every year because it is such a great cause and the girls enjoy getting involved, and make a difference in their community.”

Skuches said: “We are teaching the girls to give back to their community at large. It's important for them to understand that giving back is not only a nice thing to do, but a satisfying thing. Knowing that you've made a difference, no matter how small the donation or the time spent, is an important lesson to learn, and they also had fun doing it. Hopefully it will plant the seeds for them to give back in many other ways in the future.”

Seeing the girls from opposing schools join forces was enjoyable for their coaches.

“Many of the girls have friends on both the Lauralton and Foran teams,” Anderson sad. “They loved coming together for this great cause. Toward the end of the event we mixed up the teams and ran some fun relays which was a great way for members of different teams to meet each other.”

The fundraising event served as a regular Saturday swim practice from a workout standpoint, but these laps had so much more meaning.

“I think that the life lesson they learn from this fundraiser every year is more impactful than a regular Saturday practice,” Skuches said.