03:41PM, Monday 13 January 2020
A total of 167 miles were swam as the Maidenhead Lions’ Swimarathon returned for its 35th year at the weekend.
The relay event at the Magnet Leisure Centre in Holmanleaze has raised nearly £1million for good causes since it started in the 1980s.
It was an early start for the 102 teams taking part with the first hour beginning at 7am, and ending at 7pm.
They had signed up to try and surpass last year’s total of £35,000 raised.
Each team nominated a good cause to benefit from their swim, with donations and gift aid shared 50:50 between the charity and the Lions.
A plethora of good causes are expected to benefit from the event again in 2020, which is sponsored by the Louis Baylis Trust, owners of the Advertiser.
Organiser Brenda Butler said she was ‘confident’ of going over the £35,000 mark this year.
The total amount pledged on the day was just shy of £27,000 but further sponsorship money is expected to come through.
“What is pledged on the day always increases,” she said.
“I am very confident of going over the £35,000.”
More than 800 swimmers swam a total of 5,377 laps of the pool between them – from seasoned club members to those who had never been in one before.
They also received a visit from Maidenhead MP Theresa May and her husband Philip, as well as the Royal Borough’s deputy mayor Gary Muir.
Brenda said: “It is important in so many ways. The children and adults are swimming as a team, enjoying the spirit and camaraderie, and achieving something amazing – raising money for their favourite good causes and the Lions Charitable Trust.
“The Lions will use our half of the money throughout the year to support local people in need.
“There is so much that we can do with that money. Everybody is helping everyone else.”
About 20 schools and 38 different organisations took part in this year’s Swimarathon.
The Cox Green Townswomen's Guild team has taken part in the event every year, raising more than £14,000 for charity.
They are the oldest team competing and are regularly in the pool for the 7am start.
Doris Cutler has been the captain and organiser, but now aged 90, has decided to hand over the role.
Brenda said: “They are just brilliant – they have entered every year from the beginning.”
The charities benefitting from the 2020 Swimarathon along with the Maidenhead Lions Club are as follows:
Maidenhead Blind Club, Maidenhead Rotary Clubs, Dorney Youth Club Maidenhead Marlins Swimming Club, The Mayor’s Benevolent Fund, St Luke’s PCC, Cancer Research, Ovacome, Sportsable, East Cheshire Hospice, Ravenswood/Norwood Village, Prostate Cancer UK, St Mark’s Building Fund, W&M Starfish Club, Berkshire Deaf Children’s Society.
A Swimarathon awards evening will be held at Cox Green Community Centre in Highfield Lane on Friday, March 27.
Cups will be presented to individuals and teams including most lengths completed and person with the most sponsors.
Brenda extended her thanks to the 55 volunteers who made the event possible, as well as the Magnet for hosting and the Louis Baylis Trust for sponsoring.
Next year’s Swimarathon will take place on Saturday, January 9.
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