Swim Ireland has announced details of the third year of it’s Swim For a Mile Challenge and are planning for a significant lift in terms of the number of participants.
David Wallace, former Irish international rugby player, Laura Woods, TV3 presenter, Matt Cooper, Today FM’s The Last Word presenter and Melanie Nocher, retired Olympic swimmer were on hand today to launch Swim Ireland’s third ‘Swim for a Mile Challenge.’
Former Ireland Rugby International David Wallace, Ireland AM TV3 presenter Laura Woods and Woods and Matt Cooper will be taking part in the challenge which involves 12 weeks of training to reach their ultimate goal of swimming a mile.
This year the challenge is being extended to include an 800 metre relay version for those who feel they would rather take a step towards the mile and do so with a swimming partner; and most importantly to younger swimmers aged between 12 and 16.
The challenge is open to swimmers of all abilities, from the regular to the lapsed. It includes a free programme of training, coaching clinics delivered around the country by Olympians and on line training support.
There will once again be strong media support from the Irish Times who last year had two writers taking the challenge and writing about the experience on the Irish Times website and in the papers new Thursday morning Sports Supplement.
The events themselves will take place in 12 pools nationwide in the first week of April. There will be online sign up this year for the first time through the specific event website at www.swimforamile.com.
“We are targeting to have 5,000 people complete the challenge this year, more than trebling the number from 2015,” Swim Ireland PR Manager Trish Mayon told Sport for Business yesterday.
“Before today’s launch we already have 2,000 that have registered for the training programme and 300 that have signed up ahead of time in order to do the challenge.”
“We received funding from the Coca Cola Thank You fund for the past two years which was instrumental in getting the challenge going.”
There is no sponsor in place this year but there is still room to change that. The extension to younger swimmers will bring more of a family feel to the event and the rich content being delivered through the Irish Times provides additional potential for a sponsor to attach their brand to what will be an undoubted ‘feel good’ event.
Matthew Leopold is Head of Sponsorship with British Gas and will be speaking at the Irish Sponsorship Summit on February 25th. They have invested heavily in British swimming over recent years and will have experiences to share in how and why that worked for them.
“Swimming is one of the only sports in which people of all abilities and ages can get involved,” said Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane.
“Through Swim for a Mile we aim to show this and to encourage everyone to get involved and get active. The Swim for a Mile programme has been specifically developed in line with the Department of Health Guidelines on exercise and aims to encourage people and give them the tools to embark on a new healthier lifestyle. We are excited about the 2016 initiative and the impact it’s going to have in terms of growing the sport and encouraging as many people as possible to experience the benefits of swimming.”
Former Irish international rugby player David Wallace is taking on the challenge as a lapsed swimmer: “I would be far more comfortable on the pitch than I would be in the pool and I don’t consider myself a strong swimmer. But I am really looking forward to taking on this new challenge to swim for a mile. I will be taking part in the coaching clinics in the pool at UL Sport, Limerick which will help to improve my technique and improve my fitness and get me ready for my challenge on the 5th of April. There is a great bonus of swimming being low impact on my body too which after years of the high impact rugby will be very much welcomed.”
TV3 presenter and mum of two, Laura Woods swam competitively as a child and now uses swimming not only for fitness but also as a form of mindfulness: “Getting into the rhythm of doing length after length in the pool quiets my mind completely. Taking on the Swim for a Mile challenge will allow me to give focus to my sessions in the pool and it’s a great motivation for the start of a new year. The relay option of splitting the mile with a friend seems like it could be great fun too!”
Today FM’s The Last Word presenter Matt Cooper is once again an ambassador for the Challenge. “Doing the ‘Swim for a Mile’ was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in recent years. Completing the mile with so many other people in the pool encouraging each other to do it was great fun and provided a great sense of achievement. Swimming may be an individual thing but everyone helps each other along between lengths and each time I did it I got a little faster too.”
Retired international swimmer Melanie Nocher who is a former Double Olympian and European Medallist said: “I have always been passionate about swimming and showing others that it is for everybody and not just competitive swimmers. It is a unique sport in which people of all abilities and ages can get involved.”