The wonderful Swimathon 2024 initiative. SWIMATHON

Former Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew MBE is encouraging people across the UK to take part in Swimathon 2024 to have fun, improve their fitness and raise money for charity partners Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK.

Olympic medallist and former swimmer Duncan Goodhew is encouraging people across the UK to take part in Swimathon 2024, which takes place in April 2024. The event is about having fun, improving physical fitness and raising money for charity partners Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK. Swimming is rated as one of the most popular sports to participate in by a quarter of UK adults (25%) and almost half (47%) of under 16s, with almost three in four (72%) believing that swimming is a sport that improves mental wellbeing. Some 45% of UK parents/guardians agree that swimming has brought them closer together as a family, while among children, almost half (47%) of under-16s say it is one of their favourite sports to participate in, second only to football (50%).

Swimathon is the world's largest annual fundraising swim, with over 400 UK pools taking part in this iconic challenge in April 2024. Importantly, participants can choose to swim between 400m and 5k, while raising vital funds for Swimathon's charity partners.

Marie Curie is the UK's leading end of life charity, providing essential care and palliative care for people with any terminal illness, as well as a free support helpline. The other beneficiary of the Swimathon is Cancer Research UK. This charity supports research into the prevention and treatment of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. The charity works towards a world where people can live longer and better, free from the fear of cancer.

Duncan Goodhew MBE, born in the UK in 1957 and President of Swimathon, encouraged people to take part: "Swimathon is the perfect challenge for families to do together because you can choose from a variety of different distances. There really is something for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Swimming is great for both physical and mental wellbeing, and participants will also be raising vital funds for Swimathon's charity partners Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK".

According to research referenced by the UK's Marie Curie organisation, around two-fifths (41%) of people want to swim more, but access to pools in their local area is limited. With community pools at risk of closure due to rising energy costs, Swimathon hopes to increase the number of people using local pools in April, with thousands of people across the UK swimming distances of 400m, 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k or even the Triple 5k, which is three 5k swims.

The challenge takes place between 26 and 28 April. Annie Wade, a healthcare assistant at Marie Curie and Swimathon participant, said: "As a healthcare assistant at Marie Curie, I see first-hand how important our work is. People's lives are transformed by the expert and direct care we provide at the end of life, so the more money we can raise through the Swimathon, the more patients and families we can support at home and in our hospices".

Gareth Mulcahy, Head of Events and Sport at Cancer Research UK, said: "The Swimathon is such a fun and easy way to encourage people to dip their toe in the water and swim. It really doesn't matter if you're not the fittest or the fastest, because there's no greater motivation for taking part than supporting a cause so close to so many people's hearts."

"Nearly one in two of us will develop cancer in our lifetime, but through challenges like Swimathon we can all help support vital research. That's why we're urging swimmers to grab their caps and costumes, raise money and help us continue to make new discoveries and advances. Together we can beat cancer," he concluded.