The Incredible Casey Kids go Beyond to swim 27km and raise over $30,000

by Emma Brown 16 Oct 2020

Congratulations to the Casey family for blowing their Can Too Beyond program fundraising goal out of the water. The sibling’s target was to raise $10,000 for cancer research by swimming 27km – the length of the Northern Beaches.

The Caseys upgraded their goal to $27,000, $1k for each km they swam, suspecting this could be a tough ask in this economic climate.  The family team, who lost their father to cancer this year, overtook this figure to raise $31,000 for Can Too Foundation to support cancer research.  

“It was totally beyond our expectations to raise that figure especially at this time,” said Lana Casey.

Their fundraising efforts included hosting a raffle using donations by Northern Beaches businesses and locals including tickets from the band Ocean Alley, who are school friends of the Casey Kids.

The four siblings also surprised themselves to complete the 27km relay ocean swim in 6 hours 50 mins, 10 mins quicker than they had predicted on the cold, windy day, of Saturday 26 September. The team had initially planned to start the swim at Palm Beach but due to the strong winds they reversed the course to start at Manly and finish at Palm Beach.

Champion paddleboarder James Casey, who undertook the swim with his siblings Lana, Willis and Pascalle, in honour of their father, said that even though they all grew up swimming the wind and really cold temperatures challenged them.

“The wind was really gusty and strong as it was coming from the west, it was smooth in the ocean … but when we were out of the water for 15 minutes each in the boat you really had to keep warm, refuel and rehydrate,” said James.

Their step mum Elizabeth was the team manager and made sure everyone was well fed on the boat and timed their relay turns.

James also saw a wobbegong shark off Long Reef headland at Makaha. This was the place where they had scattered their dad’s ashes as it was his favourite surf spot.

“When you swim over a shark that big you definitely speed up, that’s for sure.”

When asked how he kept going when it got tough, he replied that it was a team effort and ‘all about doing it for dad and for others dealing with cancer’.

Lana reported that their swim was smooth sailing, including seeing a pod of dolphins at Turimetta Beach, until they reached Long Reef headland where they encountered strong winds.

She was grateful to her brothers James and Willis who swam around Long Reef and through cross waves at Newport’s reef section without close boat support.

She struggled in the dense sections of jelly fish and murky warm and cold currents off Avalon which took her breath away.

“I cut my swim section short to 7.5 minutes instead of 8 minutes there, and I’m still getting shit about it [from my siblings].”

As the Caseys were swimming in together to finish at Palm Beach a mystical message seemed to appear from the heavens.

“There was sky writing with a big love heart and the word ‘dad’. We don’t know who organised it or if it was a coincidence, but we choked up seeing that,” said Lana.

 

They were greeted with a reception of 20 family and friends at Palm Beach and were grateful to Can Too Founder Annie Crawford and a group of 10 Can Tooers who supported them at the 6am start at Shelly Beach.

“It took a few days to reflect on what we had achieved with the swimming and fundraising.

“So many people said dad, who we saw as superman, would have been so proud of us, so it was pretty epic.”

The team gave each other awards, Pascalle received the most improved, as she really conquered her fears and Willis for the swimmer who had the least training and swam the furthest.

“Knowing that I can swim in and out for seven hours offshore has helped me overcome my fears of ocean swimming. Since the Beyond goal day I have swum 2.5km on my own at Mona Vale Beach.

“The goal also allowed us to talk about dad in a positive way - to have something to focus on and make good from a bad situation. Sometimes you have to make your own good, that’s definitely what we did.”

James echoed this sentiment that their Can Too Beyond goal had many benefits.

You couldn’t even see where we started from. To swim that far and raise that much money it was a huge sense of achievement.

“It was really nice to do something together as a family, to have a focus which can hopefully prevent others going through what we went through with dad.

“Donating to cancer research, we always knew wasn’t going to fix dad but if it can help other families in the future, that’s awesome.”

James next goal is to become a Guinness world record for the longest hydra foil paddle board of 200km from Wollongong to Newcastle.

You can donate to the Casey Kids Swim the Beaches fundraising page here.

 

See the Casey kids Instagram stories from the big day.

Can Too's Learn to Ocean Swim Summer program is now open, you can register here: https://www.cantoo.org.au/swim