Former CAC student (1986-90) and swimmer Kerry Yonushonis has a passion for swimming that has taken her to many countries across the world. In recent years, she has also used her swimming skills to support and raise awareness about an important cause. “I have dyslexia. My son does [too]... and one of my goals through swimming is to... raise awareness about dyslexia and all the gifts that [dyslexics] have.”
It was shortly after having her son Lucca that Kerry joined her first open water swim team in Tampa, Florida. She quickly fell in love with the sport. “It’s really interesting because there are so many elements outside of your control…,” Kerry explains. “Open water swimming ... really challenges you to just kind of dig deep and find those reserves and that resiliency that you have.”
Kerry recently began the Oceans Seven Challenge, developed by Steven Munatones. Comparable to the Seven Summits Challenge pursued by mountain climbers, Oceans Seven involves swimming seven of the most difficult channels of water around the world. In 2013, Kerry began her journey by swimming the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco.
“What I liked about Oceans Seven is that it really tapped into my desire to travel,” Kerry explains. “At CAC you’re exposed to the world early on, and so Oceans Seven... really compliments that side of my personality... I’m training and I’m trying to work for this goal, and at the same time I’m seeing the world while I’m swimming.”
Shortly after completing her first channel swim, Kerry partnered with NoticeAbility, a nonprofit that works with dyslexic children, to raise money for them with her swimming. Dyslexic children struggle with the reading-focused curriculum normally used in elementary schools. NoticeAbility provides children with an “awesome curriculum in junior high that focuses on the neurological strengths of dyslexics.” The nonprofit’s goal is “to empower these kids starting as young as grades six and seven to realize their potential.”
For her second swim across the Catalina Channel in Southern California, Kerry and NoticeAbility’s founder Dean Bragonier paired up to execute the world’s first ever bicoastal aquathon. Because of the heavy winds that blow in the Catalina Channel during the day, solo swims in this body of water have to be done at night. Just as Kerry was finishing her solo swim in California, a group of dyslexic children jumped in the water to begin a relay around Martha’s Vineyard. Kerry explains that “the idea was to help support me in my quest but then also to create this cool connection between the East and West Coasts where everybody’s swimming for a common cause.”
In the near future, Kerry hopes to organize a peer-to-peer open-water relay for children in Galveston, Texas. “We’re hoping to put the swim for dyslexia on the map in more cities… so that kids can also have an appreciation for open water swimming at an early age.”
Kerry began swimming at a young age, and during her time in Egypt, she was a member of the swim team at CAC. “I loved Coaches Sayed and Char. Really encouraging. Great coaches. Really knew what they were talking about,” she said of former CAC swim coaches Sayed Hassan and Char Webb. In ninth grade Kerry had the opportunity to travel to London and compete in the International Schools’ Sports Tournament (ISST). “That was really my first big trip that I had done… without my parents but also just for a sport that I loved.”
After obtaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the US, Kerry returned to Egypt to teach for a few years. “I just think that in Egypt there was such a depth of friendship. I don’t know the reason why, but I like to think that it’s just that adventurous spirit of Egypt… You’re just bonding through experiences.”
Today Kerry continues to swim, travel, and build connections. On September 7th, 2016 she will complete a relay swim of the English Channel in preparation for a solo attempt in September 2017. Kerry also continues to work with NoticeAbility both in and out of the water. To support their cause, check out this link. To check out the progress of her challenge and track her swim across the English Channel in September, check out her Facebook page.