Our very own swimming teacher Lydia Gardener as well as Athens Olympics diving medallist and tv commentator Leon Taylor and London 2012 400m Medley finalist Aimee Willmott joined the team of 13 who had swam every leg to complete the last mile of the #TeamBetter Swim Challenge at the London Aquatics Centre on 1 March.
A carnival atmosphere descended on the former Olympic venue with swim fans, coaches and spectators cheering poolside to raise the spirits of the exhausted swimmers as the challenge concluded.
The marathon six-day fundraising swim covered an impressive 31 miles in 31 pools. Highlights included a ‘Midnight Mile’ at the Manchester Aquatics Centre and a ‘Beach Party’ themed mile in Belfast.
Several hundred people – including guest-leg swimmers - took part in the challenge overall which raised almost £14,000 for #TeamBetter and Sport Relief helping make life better for people in the UK and in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Swim Challenge participant Andrew Clark, GLL’s National Sports and Aquatics manager said:
“It's been great to visit every area we operate swimming facilities in and see both staff and customers getting excited to be part of the Swim Challenge."
“The Team have been amazing, taking buses, trains and planes to visit the pools, with a lot of walking in between, but it's all been for a great cause.”
GLL members and club swimmers ploughed the lanes alongside the GLL team, lending moral support and adding funds towards GLL’s £500,000 corporate pledge total.
Olympic, Paralympic and World Championship athletes were on hand to greet the 13-strong swim team at every leg.
GLL, the leisure charitable social enterprise that is also the UK’s largest provider of public pools, launched Swim Challenge for Sport Relief at Finchley Lido on 25 February.
Since then it has travelled the length and breadth of the country, taking in the cities of Belfast, Bath, Manchester and Cambridge.
GLL runs over 100 swimming pools across the country, under its Better brand - many on behalf of local authorities. Better is the official health and fitness partner for Sport Relief 2016.
GLL have used the Swim Challenge to introduce more people to the sport, whatever their backgrounds, ages or abilities. GLL also runs the largest swim school in the UK.
Supporting the tired swimmers on the last leg was GLL Deputy MD Peter Bundey. He said:
“The Better Swim Challenge is a real testament to what GLL and Better are all about and showcased us at our event-organising and fundraising best."
“The Swim has raised the most money of all our fundraisers so far and has enjoyed the support of Olympians and Paralympians, our own staff and the public. I was particularly proud to see Sport Relief here as we welcomed our swimmers home."
“Thank you to all those who helped organise and took part.”
Other famous names who took part were Team GB Water Polo Captain Fran Leighton, Duncan Goodhew, James Hickman and Michael McKillop