Our Annual Charity swimming marathon
Saturday 25th March saw Parish Wharf Leisure Centre packed with swimmers from 10.30 am until 6.45pm as they took part in the 21st Annual Rotary Swimathon, an event that has raised over £180,000 during those 21 years. 88 teams took part with schools, brownies and guides taking many of the places.
The process of gathering teams starts in January when invites are sent out to teams who have previously entered. Plenty of press coverage also is essential to ensuring that the word gets out. The management at Parish Wharf are consulted about arrangements and any previous issues are addressed. The PA system is booked with Peter Cooke of Portbury who generously donates his equipment every year, the mammoth task of gathering lane counters begins, and local businesses are contacted to sponsor the event. Then on the days before the event goody bags are filled, the PA system collected, local businesses contacted again to provide their financial donations and guest starters confirmed. We are extremely lucky in having tremendous support from Sainsbury’s, Parish Wharf and other local businesses.
On the day the PA system has to be set up and tested, the pool area prepared with lane markers, signs put up to guide spectators, certificates and entry papers set out, tables chairs and display boards provided for the slick administration of the event by the army of volunteers. As the time arrives for the first event, swimmers have to be marshalled and informed of the lane they are swimming in, lane counters checked and in place then swimmers proceed to their positions and the MC checks everyone is in place before inviting the starter to start the first session. Swimmers plunge in and swim relay fashion for 35 minutes in a carefully timed session which over the whole day usually runs amazingly close to the prescribed time. As the final session comes to an end and silence descends over the pool the dismantling of the PA system, removal of the signage, clearing up of paper work and the final handing out of certificates to the last teams is completed then the feeling of huge relief descends on the organising team. Another successful event has been achieved which almost certainly will result in well over £12,000 coming in for charity.
For more than 21 years we have been organising this great local event, and in those 21 years we have all grown older and some years ago we lost a keen leader in Peter Scrutton. The organising of Swimathon is an event that demands a lot of the Club and as we move onwards we need to seek ways of gaining wider support and help to ensure we can continue this very significant event in Portishead.