Diving into challenge

NORTHUMBERLAND residents can dive into the world’s biggest fund-raising swim this spring.

The Swimathon Challenge in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care will be held at more than 600 pools across the UK, including Ponteland Leisure Centre and the Riverside Leisure Centre in Morpeth.

Those taking part will do 5k, 2.5k and 1.5k individual challenges or team 5k/1.5k challenges and, as well as bringing in money for charity, they will benefit by building endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Entries for Swimathon 2013 opened earlier this month. Presenter Tim Lovejoy and Swimathon President Duncan Goodhew – an Olympic gold medallist – launched the event with the unveiling of the Swimathon Squad.

Hand-picked by Mr Goodhew himself, the squad is made up of Mr Lovejoy and Sportsister Editor Louise Hudson, Marie Curie Cancer Care supporter Sue Barclay and Swimathon competition winner Jennifer Sutton.

He said: “It’s going to be a busy few months coaching and taking part in the Swimathon Squad 5k team challenge.

“The squad provides a fantastic opportunity to bring together swimmers of all abilities and demonstrate to the thousands of people taking part in Swimathon every year that anyone can achieve their goal regardless of their ability, while raising funds for Marie Cure Cancer Care as they smash their target.”

Marie Curie Cancer Care gives people with terminal illnesses the choice to die at home.

Funds raised by taking on Swimathon 2013 will help its nurses to provide them and their families with free hands-on care and emotional support, in their own homes, right until the end.

The event will take place between April 26 and 28. Those who enter online for a Swimathon session before January 31 will enjoy half-price entry.

Ian Hamlet, Contract Manager at the Riverside Leisure Centre and Ponteland Leisure Centre, said: “Swimathon is a fantastic way to bring our community together, to raise money for charity, and it provides a great challenge.”

The event started in 1986 and since then more than half-a-million swimmers have taken part, raising more than £38million for a range of charities. People can register to take part in a Swimathon Challenge at www.swimathon.org until April 24.