Stanford military affiliates participate in swim challenge

Derek Cameron and Jacqueline Genovese
Derek Cameron with Jacqueline Genovese

When DEREK CAMERON, ’16, signed up for the Take the Rock Veteran Swim Challenge from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park in San Francisco earlier this fall, he knew he would be swimming with COLIN SUPKO, MSM ’13, the commanding officer of his Navy Seal Reserve Unit. But he didn’t expect to be swimming with JACQUELINE GENOVESE, assistant director of the Stanford Medicine & the Muse Program and instructor for the “War Literature and Writing” class he had signed up for. DUSTIN NOLL, specialist in Stanford’s Office for Military-Affiliated Communities, had encouraged Cameron to take the writing course, which is offered by the Medicine & the Muse program housed in the Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Ethics. The course is open to all military affiliated students in all of Stanford’s schools.

Genovese introduced Cameron to TIM HSIA, MBA/JD ’14, and SAM JACOBSON, JD’14, Stanford veteran alumni who had previously taken the writing class.

Cameron was delighted to be back in the water with Supko. “It’s great to be here and participating in something like this,” he said, motioning to all of the veterans gathered on the pier before boarding boats to be taken out to Alcatraz Island to begin the more than one-mile swim.

The swim challenge was sponsored by the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley (VNVDV) and the Nadadores Locos Swim Club. Swimmers were coached by volunteers from San Francisco’s Dolphin and South End swim clubs. The Stanford group joined 40 other veterans from around the Bay Area in an event that Genovese described as “one of the toughest things I have ever done.” Genovese, whose father and sister are veterans, participated in the swim to help raise awareness of the event at Stanford and in the South Bay.

As swimmers came out of the water, they were greeted with soft towels and hearty congratulations. VNVDV members also provided breakfast to participants and later served lunch and presented certificates to the swimmers. Thanks to the generosity of VNDVN, the whole event was free to participants.

For Hsia and Jacobson, who now lives and works in New York, it was a way to reconnect and meet fellow Stanford military alumni and current students.

“Maybe next year we’ll get more Stanford folks to participate,” Cameron said.

Indeed, according to Genovese, Take the Rock organizers have issued an invitation to Stanford employees and students who are active duty, reserve or veterans to participate in next year’s swim, scheduled for Sept. 24, 2016. Those interested in learning more about Take the Rock 2016 should contact Genovese at