Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in support of cancer research at IRB Barcelona

Carlos Romero (43) has launched the campaign "Swim against the current" in support of cancer research at IRB Barcelona (Battista, IRB Barcelona)
Carlos Romero (43) has launched the campaign "Swim against the current" in support of cancer research at IRB Barcelona (Battista, IRB Barcelona)
  • <p>Carlos Romero (43) has launched the campaign "Swim against the current" in support of cancer research at IRB Barcelona (Battista, IRB Barcelona)</p>
  • <p>Carlos Romero during a visit to the IRB Barcelona laboratories this April (Battista, IRB Barcelona)</p>
  • <p><a href="http://www.nadarcontracorrent.org">www.nadarcontracorrent.org</a> logo</p>

A family history marked by cancer has motivated Carlos Romero (a 43-year-old from Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Baix Llobregat) to take up the challenge of swimming across the Strait of Gibraltar in September and to donate the sponsor funds raised to the IRB Barcelona’s Oncology Programme.

Carlos has launched the campaign Nadar contra corrent (Swim against the current) to raise awareness of the project and to ask for contributions from supporters, companies, and businesses in the area.

Carlos Romero is a 43-year-old telecom engineer who is determined to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar in September to raise funds for cancer and metastasis research performed at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). Europe and Africa are 14.4 km apart. Because of the strong currents, this means swimming about 18 km, which corresponds to 12,250 “supporting strokes”, as this resident of Sant Esteve Sesrovires, a town in the region of Baix Llobregat, explains. Yesterday, Carlos presented his “Nadar contra corrent” in a function in his local town council. Involving the participation of the town mayor Enric Carbonell and the director of IRB Barcelona, Joan J. Guinovart, this gathering was attended by business people, associations, and representatives from other councils from the Baix Llobregat region. The Town Council of Sant Esteve Sesrovires and a local NGO called TotSuma have been the first to pledge support to this charity fundraising sports initiative.

A family history marked by cancer

Many people have directly or indirectly experienced cancer, a disease that currently affects one in every three people during their lifetimes. And it is exactly a family experience that has motivated Carlos to start this charity initiative. “My father died from lung cancer when I was 24. Nothing could be done to save him. Going through an experience like that when you are young marks you for life. In my case, it changed the way I understand and live life and also my priorities,” he explains. A swimming enthusiast, Carlos had been considering for some time the idea of swimming the Strait of Gibraltar and linking the challenge with raising funds for charity. “I found out about the IRB Barcelona’s fundraising campaign and it attracted my attention; I contacted the centre to see what they thought about associating my project with theirs,” he goes on to explain.

Sarah Sherwood, head of Communications at IRB Barcelona and also a resident of Sant Esteve Sesrovires, explains, “the fact that we are neighbours and Carlos found out about IRB Barcelona was an amazing coincidence. It is a pleasure and a great honour to receive the support and enthusiasm of people like Carlos. His challenge has become ours.”  Carlos Romero’s initiative is one of many examples of public support of the centre, “a growing trend of great value because it shows that the general public is committed to science, a common phenomenon in English-speaking countries, which head the tables regarding public engagement,” says Joan Guinovart, director of IRB Barcelona.

Carlos is training hard in preparation for the sports challenge, in which he will face strong currents, waves, fog, and the tides of the Strait. To date, fewer than 700 people have managed to swim across this expanse of water, a figure five times smaller than the number of mountaineers who have climbed Everest. The website www.nedarcontracorrent.org will be providing updated information about Carlos’ preparation and the development of the project and donations can also be made through this site.