Kelly Seib is swimming to save a life.
Seib, a constable with the Delta Police Department, will be doing a 12-hour swim-a-thon at the Sungod Recreation Centre on Jan. 10, to raise money for Tashina Janus, a North Delta woman who was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago.
Seib heard about Janus’ battle with cancer via an internal email sent to members of the DPD by Janus’ sister Soraya, a civilian employee with the department.
“Soraya was just such a positive person at work, and I look at [Tashina] as helping a sister of a sister,” Seib told the Reporter. “I look at us as a police family, and this was something I could do.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have something I can offer by way of a swim-a-thon.”
Seib has been swimming since before she could walk (“according to my mom,” she said with a little laugh), earning gold medals at the World Police and Fire Games and the Can-Am Police Fire Games. She excels at long-distance swimming, both in the pool and in open water.
“But long distance is very different from 12 hours long distance,” she said.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Seib will be swimming nearly non-stop in the Sungod Recreation Centre pool. She won’t get out to eat or drink — her water bottle will be floating on top of a kickboard in the pool — and if she needs a break, she’ll have to start treading water.
She will have to hop out to put on a wet suit, something she regrets but is necessary in the 82 F pool.
“My body temperature will go from 98 [degrees] down to what the pool is,” she explained. “In those 12 hours, there’s no doubt I would be hypothermic.”
But swimming in a wet suit is restrictive and something Seib doesn’t like to do for hours at a time, so she’ll be switching in and out of the wet suit every two hours. And she’s gotten it down to a science: two minutes to hop out of the water and pull the suit on, only a few seconds to peel it off in the water.
“I’m hoping that people come to keep me going,” Seib said. “Because if I see the drive with that, that’s very empowering as a swimmer and somebody who’s trying to give back.
“The family’s also going to be there that day as well,” she added. “So Tashina, Soraya, their mother Monica, will all be in and around. And for them to see that love and support from the community and beyond is something that I would think empowering to them as well.”
Although the goal of the Jan. 10 swim-a-thon is to raise money to help Janus save her brain —and her life — it’s also a way for Seib to honour her late uncle, who died of a different kind of brain cancer four years ago.
“He was the most giving person ever,” she said about her uncle. “I thought if he was looking down, he would be proud of me thinking of him and doing this for somebody else.”
The Janus family is hoping to raise $100,000 to attempt to cure Janus’ cancer through immunotherapy. The procedure has been approved in Canada to treat some cancers, but brain cancer isn’t one of them. This means 23-year-old Janus has to travel to the United States for treatment.
So far, just over $50,000 has been raised through the Save Tashina’s Brain GoFundMe page. Seib has set a personal goal of raising $10,000 through her swim-a-thon, and has already collected about $6,500 in donations from family and friends.
But most importantly, Seib said, the event is a “marathon swim of hope.”
“We do have a very giving community. And I’m hoping outside our community that people see benefit in donating, but also spreading that message of hope to do something,” she said. “If we can help one person at a time, that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
The Jan. 10 swim-a-thon begins at 7 a.m. at Sungod Recreation Centre (7815 112th St.) and will end at 7 p.m. Donations are accepted in-person during the event or online through the Save Tashina’s Brain GoFundMe page.