Portsmouth centre to help launch UK charity swimathon

SPLASH From left, Zhao Zhang, Jasmine Zhang, and Xiaohua Lin.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (114493-2)
SPLASH From left, Zhao Zhang, Jasmine Zhang, and Xiaohua Lin. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (114493-2)
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ORGANISERS have dubbed it the world’s biggest swim for charity.

Now Portsmouth will be the first city in the south east to get a splash of the action.

Olympics athletes will join fundraising swimmers at The Mountbatten Centre, in Twyford Avenue, Stamshaw, on Thursday, January 5 for the launch of the eagerly anticipated Swimathon Weekend.

The Swimathon Weekend, which is in its 25th year, will see thousands of people in goggles and trunks race in the ‘Big Splash Mile’ for Sport Relief or in 2.5k and 5k distance challenges for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The event, set up by The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), will take place at the Mountbatten Centre and at 649 other pools across the country in April.

Keith Sutton, ASA south east region director, said: ‘I am delighted that Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre will be hosting the regional launch.

‘This is set to be the world’s biggest charity swimathon. 2012 will be an amazing year for sport and swimming and it’s an excellent way for everyone to set themselves a challenge in the new year.’

At January’s launch event, paralympics bronze medallist and world record holder Lauren Steadman will give school kids as well as amateur and professional swimmers a taster of the challenges ahead with a masterclass in different swimming strokes and techniques.

The Olympian will also be joined by British number one disabled swimmer Amberley Hoar.

The Swimathon Weekend is being launched in nine other cities earmarked by The Amateur Swimming Association across the country on the same day.

Richard Neale, manager of the Mountbatten Centre, said: ‘This is all about starting things off with a bang and encouraging as many people as possible to enter and raise money for charity.

‘There’s going to be a lot of VIPs and it should turn out to be a great occasion for the city.’

More than half-a-million people have taken part in the Swimathon Weekends.

They swam the equivalent of 26 times around the world and raised £34m for charity.

Visit swimathon.org