MORPETH Swimming Club is aiming to make a fund-raising splash to help cover its Olympic costs.
Nine members will be Young Games Makers at the Aquatics Centre during the world’s biggest sporting event in July and August after they came through a rigorous selection process.
Abi Oman, Rebecca Proud, Alexander Garland, Andie Hinitt, Miriam Inverarity, Robert Carr, Claire Turner, Lucy Shuttleworth, Grace Welsh – all sixth formers at King Edward VI School – will be carrying athlete kit baskets to and from the starting blocks and doing other tasks. They will be joined by club chairman Lynda Garland and head coach Jenny Glossop, who will be their adult team leaders.
But their travel, accommodation and other expenses, including meetings and sessions before the games, will cost about £10,000 and so the teenagers and the club have been doing fund-raising since the start of the year.
The main activity will start on Saturday, June 16 – the day after the Olympic torch comes through the town.
Swim to London plans to involve all the swimmers at the club doing lengths of the pool during an eight-day period to cover the 300 miles from Morpeth to the Olympic Park. Most of them will be done at the Riverside Leisure Centre, with the remainder to be swam at a training camp in Stirling.
Northumberland-based Olympic breaststroke medallist Nick Gillingham will be coming along on the Saturday to support the campaign, as will top junior swimmers Jessica Thielmann (Youth Olympic Gold medallist) and Phoebe Lenderyou (multi-Gold medallist at the Commonwealth Youth Games and European Junior Bronze medallist).
Mrs Garland said: “We’re all very excited about being part of the Olympic action, but we’re not on London’s doorstep and the costs involved both before and during the Games are significant. We came up with Swim to London so it could tie in with the Olympic Torch relay and it was important to do something that all club members could get involved with and make a contribution to the total.
“Hopefully, people will come down to the Riverside Leisure Centre on the Saturday to see what’s going on and make a donation and it may inspire them to join the club.
“It’s fantastic that Nick, Phoebe and Jessica are coming along and we’ve also had messages of support from swimming Olympians Chris Cook, Karen Pickering and Kris Gilchrist.
“The Young Games Makers (YGMs) have raised a decent amount of money so far through a Morrisons bag pack, meal and quiz nights at Manzil and Marabinis, the LionSwim event and a cake stall at KEVI. We have also been successful in a number of grant applications.
“We’ve always had an expectation that we wouldn’t cover all our costs through fund-raising, but if Swim to London and other activities go well, we will get much nearer our target than we originally anticipated.”
The group has already been down to London for a few sessions and the Aquatics Centre test event – the British Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials in March. Before the Games begin they will return for venue-specific training, team orientation and uniform pick up on three separate occasions as organised by LOCOG.
After hearing about the fund-raising requirements, Morpeth’s Lions, Rotary, Soroptimist and Inner Wheel Clubs decided to help out by arranging a street collection on Friday, June 15, when the Olympic Torch passes through Morpeth.
Mrs Garland added: “The YGMs swim at a certain standard at Morpeth, so to see those at the top of the sport up close will be a fantastic experience for them.
“Helping out at the British Championships was fabulous and it was a good taster for the Olympics because it was also the trials, which meant all the big UK names were there and racing hard.”
To donate, or for more information about Swim to London, ring the Riverside Leisure Centre on 01670 514665 or visit https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/morpethasc
If anyone would like to help with the street collection on June 15, contact Simon Pringle on 01670 513169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org