When college student Ted Mullin died in 2006, his swim team at Carleton College decided to hold a fundraising event in his honor — a nonstop, one hour-swimming relay.
That event grew from 18 teams and about 750 swimmers from across Minnesota during its first year to more than 176 teams across the country this year. On its 10th anniversary Tuesday, nearly 8,000 participants from 30 states dove into pools at exactly 5 p.m. and kicked off the relay.
An hour later, the Ted Mullin Fund to combat pediatric sarcoma was expected to be about $40,000 richer. It is nearing $600,000 raised in the past decade for research at the University of Chicago Medicine.
Ted's father, Rick Mullin, remains amazed that the "Hour of Power" is doing so much to call attention to the cancer that took his son's life.
"It's an impressive display of generosity from the swim community," said Mullin, of the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. "We feel humbled that so many people have worked so hard to make this happen."
The idea for a relay was sparked by Ted Mullin's love of that exercise, said Carleton swim team coach Andy Clark. It's a team-building exercise, and Ted Mullin was all about being a team player, he said.
It's very fast paced, said Dave Pape, sports information officer at Carleton.
"It takes these guys 20-some seconds to get down [the lane] and back," said Pape. "With 54 swimmers, they're lined up nine [people] deep. You get out, get in line, and in a few minutes you jump back in."
On Tuesday, that was exactly the scene at about a dozen Minnesota colleges and some adult swim clubs.
Recognizing that not everyone is a fish in the water, the fundraiser recently opened its arms to "dry land" teams, such as soccer, football and baseball. Baseball teams, for example, can do continual relay sprints around bases.
Mullin said he swam — once — for the Hour of Power, but keeping up with 20-year-olds is not easy. " Now I cheer from the sidelines," he said.