Paralympic swimmer and gold medallist Bethany Firth is calling on people across the Bath area to take the plunge and sign up for Swimathon 2020, in aid of Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
The swimming star is urging people of all ages and abilities to take part in the sponsored event. It will be taking place at swimming pools in Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and across the UK.
Bethany clinched three gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and one gold at the London 2012 Paralympics. She is going for glory at the Tokyo Paralympics this August.
With the countdown to Tokyo well underway, Bethany is calling on landlubbers and water babies alike to take inspiration from Team GB’s medal hopefuls and ‘go for gold’ in their own way, by raising vital funds for charity.
With a variety of distances from 400m all the way up to the Triple 5k, Swimathon offers a challenge for everyone. People can participate individually or as part of a team.
The big Swimathon weekend takes place over the weekend of 27th-29th March at pools across the South West.
If swimmers can’t make one of the organised sessions, they can sign up to MySwimathon, which takes place from 20th March to 5th April, and choose a time and venue that suits them.
Bethany took time out from training to support Swimathon, inspired by her mum, Lindsey Firth who is recovering from thyroid cancer.
Bethany said: “It was a terrible shock when mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. She has been such a source of strength and support for me throughout my life and career.
“It was a very difficult time but thankfully her treatment was successful and I’m so grateful that she’s getting back to full health.
“My mum’s experience means our family understand all too clearly why events such as Swimathon are so vital to support the work of charities like Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.”
Bethany is keen to emphasise you don’t need to be a super swimmer to take part in Swimathon.
Bethany said: “Swimathon is such a fun and simple way to encourage people to dip their toe in the water and get swimming – all while supporting two incredible charities.
“It really doesn’t matter if you’re not the fittest or the fastest. I hope swimmers young and old, new and experienced will dive in and help thousands of families affected by cancer.
“The dedicated fundraisers who support these important causes are the real heroes.”
Swimathon, which is the world’s biggest annual swimming fundraiser, has raised more than £52m for charities since it began in 1986.
Organisers hope that in this Olympic year, participants will help to make 2020 a Swimathon record breaker by raising more than £2.2m for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
Alison Birkett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for South West, said: “Whether you’re a champion swimmer or prefer to stick to the shallow end, there’s a Swimathon challenge for all – we hope everyone will grab their caps and costumes and sign up now.
“There are lots of great benefits to taking part, not least the chance to enjoy the water while raising money for causes which are close to the hearts of so many. Each length participants swim will help make a difference to people affected by cancer.”
Mark Winton, Head of Community Fundraising at Marie Curie, said: “Over the years, Swimathon has raised millions for charities including Marie Curie, which has enabled us to provide care and support to more people living with a terminal illness and their families, helping them make the most of the time they have together. We are proud to be part of such a prestigious and much-loved event.”
Not only will taking part help to raise money, but it also has mental and physical health benefits too.
Moderate exercise such as swimming can help build stamina, burn calories and keep a healthy body weight, which reduces the risk of a range of diseases including cancer.
Swimming regularly is also gentle on the joints, can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve sleep patterns.
To sign up to Swimathon 2020, visit swimathon.org.