DES MOINES — For a girl who drew up on a dead-end road in the middle of a Cedar County cornfield, swimming the English Channel was a “crazy, lofty idea.”
Cheyanne Boddicker, 27, a Tipton High School and University of Iowa graduate, chalks up her 15-hour, 39-minute swim across the English Channel as her “Olympic dream.”
However for Boddicker, there was more to her year-long training in Coralville Reservoir and Lake Michigan than simply becoming the 877th person to officially swim the channel without taking a break or wearing a wetsuit and the first Iowa woman to swim the channel.
Boddicker, who was honored Monday by the Iowa House with a resolution for “courage, determination, and dedication,” did it as a way to benefit the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa.
Several members of Boddicker’s family have suffered from cancer. She wanted to use her health as a way to fight cancer. She thought an endurance event would be an appropriate way to gain a perspective on the adversity cancer patients face.
It was an eye-opening journey for Boddicker, whose father, Dan, is a former Republican state representative from Tipton.
“It changed my life more than I expected,” said Boddicker, who now works as a development officer at the University of Iowa Foundation and is getting married next month. “When I watched my grandfather fight cancer, he never complained. When I was training for this swim and going through hard workouts and just being in utter agony, it’s easy to whine and complain until I realized that I have the choice. They didn’t choose to get cancer, but they chose to live every day and keep fighting.”
Along the way, Boddicker found an interesting parallel between swimming the channel and fighting cancer.
“They can do everything the doctors tell them to do — the right way to eat, the right way to live, the right treatments,” she explained. “They can do everything in their power to try to beat it, but there’s no guarantee.”
Despite her efforts to prepare for the channel swim, Boddicker said there was no guarantee she could achieve her goal.
“You can eat all the right foods. You can train all the right amounts and train with the best coaches in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s a toss-up because you don’t know what the weather is going to be like, if you encounter too many jellyfish, if you get sick, you get dehydrated. There are all these unknowns,” she said.
“Seeing the courage that people like my grandfather and cancer patients demonstrate when they just want to preserve the gift of life everyday was so profound to me,” she said. “It made the courage to swim the English Channel seem very small compared to what they have to go through.”
Boddicker said she couldn’t have made the swim just for fun. She needed the inspiration of cancer patients to keep her training and keep her swimming in the 61-degree water.
As a result, Boddicker raised more than $25,000 for the Holden Center.
For more on her swim, visit www.crossingforacure.com.