Last year saw the very first GlobalSwimarathon launched right here in Grantham.
It was a tremendous success with a Guinness World Record 4,546 people taking part around the world simultaneously, raising more than £65,000 to help eradicate polio worldwide.
This year’s event will be on Saturday, February 23 - Rotary Day.
The Journal spoke to Rotarian Paul Wilson who has been communicating with clubs worldwide in his role as social media co-ordinator.
How did the GlobalSwimarathon come about?
The idea came about in late 2010 we started working on it in April 2011, trying to get clubs around the world
It was quite an ambitious idea, wasn’t it?
The first time it was mentioned everyone laughed and the first time I mentioned using social media to get all these clubs around the world involved I had the same
reaction. But it actually proved a brilliant way to communicate with clubs.
You have taken on the social media mantle. What’s your social media background?
I joined Rotary in 2011 and quit my job in 2012. I have worked in IT but I was convinced that this was the direction for me so I’m now a social media consultant on the back of the work with the swimarathon.
Logistically it must be very difficult to organise an event on six different continents...
Yes it is. We’ve got messages coming in around the clock - especially now we are getting to the sharp end. Last year everything was done around the world at the same time to go for the record but this year it is all happening on Rotary Day on February 23 around the world. We have filled every hour of the 24-hour UK time. We know that for 24 hours someone, somewhere around the world will be swimming in the event. What’s unbelievable for me is all the trouble in Egypt yet there are 12 clubs in Cairo taking part.
The event is only in its second year. Are you aiming to make it bigger each year?
We want to make it as big an event as we can to raise as much money as we can. This year there are twice as many countries involved and last year we raised £66,000. There is every chance we could get close to £200,000, maybe even £250,000. That translates to half-a-million children getting an immunisation. It’s quite hard to communicate to people just how big this event is and yet it doesn’t cost us anything to run - not a penny.
And it has all come from Grantham. Does that make you proud?
Absolutely. I think it’s amazing and we should all be proud. There was a little boy from India on the front page of the Journal last year and he has been in touch on Facebook. He is India’s youngest paralympian but he said his ambition isn’t to get to the paralympics, it’s to come and swim in Grantham. Hopefully one day we can make the arrangements, maybe even next year for the 25th anniversary of the RotarySwimarathon. That would be amazing because he symbolises everything.
Who can take part?
Anyone. Just turn up and bring your kit between 10am and noon and you can swim. All we ask is a £2.50 donation.