Swim Ireland today announced details of its annual ‘Swim for a Mile Challenge’. The project, which was initiated in 2014, will challenge members of the public to compete in national events to swim a mile. Swim Ireland will provide a free training programme, support, advice and motivation for all those wanting to take on the challenge.

DMcM, MC & SK Poolside 2

The 2015 event promises to be bigger and better. We have teamed up with Ireland Active to get pools all across Ireland participating and encouraging people to take the plunge and swim a mile.

Matt Cooper of Today FM’s The Last Word, who as a supporter in 2014 was key to the challenges success, is on board once again as well as Conor Pope and Dominique McMullan of The Irish Times and The Simon Community as the 2015 Charity Partner.

The Challenge is being made possible this year through the Irish Sports Council’s Women in Sport Programme and the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund and The Irish Times who are entering into a significant partnership with Swim Ireland.

Supporting swimmers to go the distance, Swim Ireland is offering free swim training programmes available through the Swim for a Mile website and also free Coaching Clinics at locations across the country right up to the event.  With Swim Irelands expert support, participants will be able to hone their swimming technique, increase their levels of fitness and improve on a life-long skill – but most importantly be in prime shape to take on the mile challenge when the events takes place across Ireland from the 18th to the 22nd May.

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Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane spoke at today’s launch “Swimming is a unique sport in which people of all abilities and ages can get involved, the Swim for a Mile Challenge is the perfect platform to show this. The Swim for a Mile programme has been developed in line with the Department of Health Guidelines on exercise and aims to empower people by giving them the tools to embark on a new challenge. I am excited about the 2015 initiative going nationwide and the impact it’s going to have in terms of growing the sport and encouraging as many people to experience the benefits of swimming.”

Today FM’s The Last Word presenter Matt Cooper is once again an Ambassador for the Challenge having swum the mile at four locations in 2014. He has signed up to participate again and will encourage listeners to ‘Swim for a Mile with Matt’. Speaking today Matt said: “I went into last year’s Swim for a Mile thinking I knew how to swim. I didn’t. I carried out a form of paddling which explained why it took me so long to get up and down the pool, with breaks in-between. So I was taught how to swim properly by a great coach called Brian Sweeney, who got me to put my head down into the water, showed me how to breath properly and use my arms in the right stroke. Admittedly, I still can’t get my legs working properly in tandem but the feeling of achievement and satisfaction as I built up the lengths was enormous. Eventually I managed the 64 lengths of the 25 metre pool and the 32 lengths of the 50 metre pool, it was intimidating! I wasn’t fast but I managed it four times in a week last year and enjoyed the feeling of achievement enormously.

And here’s what was also great about the week, as I went around the country with The Last Word from venue to venue. There were so many people like me who said “I’m no good at swimming” or “I’ll never manage that” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and who discovered that it was possible. Swim for a mile provided the motivation and the opportunity. I’m delighted to be doing it again this year and to have so many other people getting involved.” 

“The Irish Times is delighted to be involved with the Swim for a Mile programme.” commented Joyce Hickey, editor of The Irish Times Health & Family Supplement “During the 12 weeks, two of our journalists, Conor Pope and Dominique McMullan, will aim to increase their skills and confidence from a few lengths to a full mile, from dipping their toes to taking the plunge. They’ll be writing about their experiences every week in The Irish Times Health+Family supplement and on irishtimes.com. This is part of our forthcoming online course, Get Swimming, where we’ll have Swim Ireland training plans, video tutorials and Irish Times journalism to encourage and enthuse the thousands of people who will take up the challenge throughout Ireland’s pools. The course will go live on Feb 24th and will culminate in Swim Ireland’s “Swim for a Mile” events from May 18th. See irishtimes.com/getswimming for more.”

Sam McGuinness on behalf of the Simon Communities welcomed the opportunity to team up with Swim Ireland on Swim for a Mile saying “The Simon Communities across Ireland are delighted to collaborate with Swim Ireland in 2015 as the Charity Partner for Swim for a Mile. As we continue to see an increase of people turning to us for outreach, accommodation, recovery and prevention services, we encourage everyone around the country to join in and get healthy while raising vital funds to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”

Erica Roseingrave, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland, said: “The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund financially supports initiatives which creatively engage more people in increased physical activity.  Last year we awarded Swim Ireland €25,000 to help them fund the first Swim for A Mile challenge. It was a great success and this year we’re back on board again providing funding to help them to scale this great idea and grow participation. This is exactly the type of project the Coca-Cola Thank you Fund seeks to invest in.”