Victoria Dolceamore, a Margate mother of three, fulfills one of her dreams on Aug. 4 when she joins a relay team swimming the English Channel.
Dolceamore, 50, is an Atlantic City native, who swam in the ocean in Margate and in Longport as a child, as well as at the Mainland Recreation Association, where late Atlantic City Mayor and state Sen. Jim Whelan served as coach.
“I like to set goals, especially something that seems like it could possibly be unattainable or really very, very challenging, because it’s not just something where you can wake up in the morning and just say, ‘I’m going to do it,’” Dolceamore said.
“You have to train. You have to have people behind you that support you and help you. It’s definitely a team effort.”
Dolceamore will be one of four swimmers. Two reserve swimmers also will be on board along with the captain and pilot.
Dolceamore swam her first open water race at age 12 in Atlantic City, and swam her first open water marathon swim around Absecon Island at age 22.
Swimming the 21 miles across the English Channel is an accomplishment that Dolceamore, one of the first female members of the Longport Beach Patrol, always thought about.
The reason this seemed to be the right time to do it was because of the SwimTayka Global Charity.
Each person on Dolceamore’s relay team is asked to raise $2,150 for the SwimTayka Charity.
SwimTayka is a global organization committed to building the next generation of confident swimmers and clean water stewards. SwimTayka provides free swim lessons and environmental education to children in underserved communities, who live along the earth’s open waters.
“I thought that would be a great opportunity to raise awareness in our own community,” said Dolceamore, a 1986 Mainland Regional High School graduate.
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Jeff Fusco, treasurer of the Hammonton Swim Club, doesn’t know anyone personally who has swum the English Channel, but he imagines it would be very difficult.
In the Hammonton Swim Club, a four-person relay team of preteens and teens trains 90 minutes each weekday just to swim 50 meters each, Fusco said.
One of the inspirations for Dolceamore is John Kulewicz, 64, of Columbus, Ohio.
For Dolceamore’s 50th birthday, she did a 30K race in Morocco. While in Morocco, she met Kulewicz, one of the few fellow Americans, who was in a bungalow next to hers in a swim camp in the southern part of the country.
Kulewicz has been the captain of an English Channel relay swimming team three times.
“I think she is going to make a major contribution to the team. Victoria is a strong and experienced swimmer. She has a strongly positive attitude. She respects the water, and she will be a great teammate by virtue of her personality,” Kulewicz said.
To prepare for the English Channel swim, Dolceamore has been doing a great deal of pool training at the Jewish Community Center in Margate and at the Brigantine Aquatic Center, where she also works as a part-time instructor for the Greenheads swimming program.
Sari Carroll, head coach of the Brigantine Greenheads Swim Team, said Dolceamore practices a couple of times a week in their pool.
Nine Greenheads members will do some open-water swimming with Dolceamore next month, Carroll said.
“We are really excited for her,” said Carroll, who knows someone who 20 years ago swam the English Channel. “I think it’s amazing.”
Dolceamore has been swimming long distances, and sprinting and nonstop swimming for 60 to 90 minutes. In April, she went into the Atlantic Ocean to try to acclimate to the cold water.
“It was quite cold. It was in the low 40s. The Channel itself will most likely not be above 62 degrees. They said it would be between 58 and 62 degrees. The whole idea is to get used to cold water because you are not permitted to use a wetsuit,” Dolceamore said.
Dolceamore realizes the Engish Channel relay, similar to the Moroccan swim, is out of the ordinary and not what most people do in their lifetime, but she hopes to inspire people to realize they too can find something within themselves to help change something, fight injustice, raise awareness or help someone in need.
“It only takes a moment to create action. Action creates momentum. Momentum creates a path that others may find helpful, enlightening or simply open their eyes to something they didn’t know about or take them on a journey they didn’t know existed or help them get started,” Dolceamore said.