History of the Swimathon Foundation
Swimathon was originally devised as a swimmer recruitment and retention programme for local authority facilities and is a key element of many swimming pools’ annual promotion and marketing campaigns. More than 45% of Swimathon participants increase their training in preparation for the event, leading to increased visits and income for pools.
For most of its 26-year history, Swimathon has enjoyed the stability provided by a title sponsor. This was BT throughout the 1990s and then, for three years at the start of the 2000s, this sponsorship transferred to Butlins. Swimathon has gone it alone since 2005. The Swimathon Foundation was formed in 2001 to help guarantee the long-term future of the event.
Over the years, many of the UK’s major charities (including Macmillan Cancer Support, NSPCC, Marie Curie Cancer Care, The British Heart Foundation and the Prince’s Trust) have sought selection as Swimathon’s principal beneficiary.
Not only have charities found that the funds raised compare very favourably with the charity’s investment in the event (Swimathon is a ready-made platform for fundraising), but the event also offers significant PR and marketing opportunities. Swimathon 2011, for instance, enjoyed more than 1,000 pieces of media coverage.
The Foundation’s grants scheme offers funding to organisations and individuals who provide and promote swimming to their local community - recognising that regular exercise can improve health, wellbeing and lives in general. Past beneficiaries have included charities for people with special needs and disabilities, synchronised swimming clubs and pool swimming coaches.
The Swimathon Foundation has four Trustees, all passionate about grass roots sports and swimming in particular:
Anthony Kendall (Chairman)
Anthony Kendall has been the Chair of the Swimathon Foundation for the past five years. A keen swimmer, he dives into his local pool at least once a week and whenever possible, he ventures outdoors - into both fresh water lakes and the sea.
Anthony is also the Director of Social Action Radio Ltd (SAR). SAR’s main area of work is co-ordinating social information campaigns on commercial radio. It also advises small and community radio stations on licence applications and development plans.
Anthony has extensive experience of the voluntary and community sector, including being the Chair of the Newlon Housing Trust for more than 12 years. He has a wide experience of sport and sports administration, particularly through his 25 years on the board of the London Youth Games where he is currently the Chairperson.
Anthony is a member of many funding organisations, including Comic Relief. He was the founding Chair of Sport Relief and a member of Capital Radio’s Help a London Child.
A keen sportsman, Anthony loves his football (as a spectator), plays tennis at least twice a week and runs at least once a week.
For over 20 years Ralph Riley was the Chief Executive of the 2,300-member lnstitute of Sport and Recreation Management (IRSM), based at Loughborough University.
Ralph has more than 30 years experience in the management and operation of sport and recreation services in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Prior to his role with the lSRM, he was a lifeguard with Stoke-on-Trent Council, Baths and Recreation Manager with Stafford Borough Council, Director and Deputy Director of Barnsley MBC Leisure Services (for ten years) and the Principle Officer for Research and Development with Wirral Borough Council - responsible for policy development and the commissioning of many new projects and sports facilities.
Ralph has been instrumental in raising standards in the management and operation of sport and recreation facilities in the UK. Although retired from his role with the ISRM, Ralph is still very active in the sporting world. He is currently a member of seven UK swimming and sports bodies. As an author, editor or speaker, he has contributed to hundreds of reports, publications and conferences.
Ralph’s love of sport comes from active participation - particularly swimming, squash and walking. He is a qualified squash coach and swimming teacher, holds the Diploma of the Royal Life Saving Society and lists amongst his interests trekking through mountains and long distance walks. In 2009, he successfully completed the 192-mile 'Coast to Coast' route.
Philip is a Partner at law firm Clintons. Having trained in London’s financial district, he now specialises in corporate, commercial, intellectual property and employment arrangements for commercial and private clients in a variety of sectors.
Philip is particularly known for his work in sports and sports marketing, where his clients include leading sports marketing and sponsorship agencies, event management companies, event owners, sports people and sports governing bodies.
He also advises creative businesses, with clients such as leading advertising and marketing agencies, PR and sponsorship consultancies, design agencies, fashion designers, scriptwriters and authors.
Philip is recognised as a ‘Key Player’ in Sponsorship in Chambers and as a Legal Expert in Sport in ‘Legal Experts’. He is also the author of the Sport section in Practical Commercial Precedents.
Graham has more than 20 years experience as a 'social entrepreneur'. Graham started his career at The Sports Council before establishing an innovative non-profit body owned by the London Boroughs to manage the world’s largest multi-sports programme for children: the London Youth Games.
Graham went on to create the UK’s first commercial community projects events agency, Limelight Projects Ltd (formally London Events Agency), specialising in participation sports and physical activity - of which he was Chairman for 18 years.
Working across the commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors, Graham has helped develop and manage some of the country’s leading activity-based CSR programmes for a diverse range of clients including BT, Nike, BBC Sport Relief, Sport England and the Swimathon Foundation.
Indeed, Graham co-created and developed Swimathon itself. In 1988, he teamed up with Duncan Goodhew and, working with pool managers across the country and various sponsors, built up the ‘Swim Marathon’ London pilot of 1986 into the national event it is today.
Graham is presently the owner/manager of a start-up company, Optima Management Ltd, which provides Care at Home services across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Despite 26 years involvement in Swimathon Graham remains a non Swimathon participant - but hasn’t given up hope of one day completing the challenge!