A FORMER Team GB swimmer is calling on Silhillians to take the plunge and sign up for the first ever Swimathon Festival.
Mark Foster, who competed at the 2008 Bejing Olympics, is urging people of all ages and abilities to take part in the sponsored event which raises money for Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie and the Swimathon Foundation.
In Solihull the Festival will take place at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre between September 10 and 12.
Swimmers can take on the 400m, 5k or 30.9k challenges at the pool.
Anyone who cannot make one of the organised sessions can sign up to MySwimathon, which takes place from September 3 to 19, and choose a time and venue that suits them.
After a challenging year that has seen pools, swimmers and charities lose out due to the impact of the pandemic, Mark is helping to champion the positive power of swimming.
He said: “I have been involved with Swimathon for around 10 years now, and in the current climate, this year’s event feels more important than ever, both for getting the nation active again and for helping the charities that so need it.
“Covid has stopped so much — there are a lot of people out there that still need help and diseases that need research.
“We know that swimming is a wonderful boost for both physical and mental health, but it can also be a great help to charities.
“It’s been great seeing so many people back in the water, and with Swimathon combining two of their great events this year, I am looking forward to what will be a brilliant celebration of both swimming and charity in September.”
Swimathon, which is the world’s biggest annual swimming fundraiser, has raised more than £55m for charities since it began in 1986.
Mark Winton, head of community fundraising at Marie Curie, said: “We’re so excited that pools have re-opened and people can once again take the plunge and make a splash while helping raise vital donations for Marie Curie.
“At Marie Curie, we rely on the support of the amazing public to ensure our nurses can keep caring for people at the end of their lives and that grieving people in the UK can get the care and support they need.
“Every penny raised helps us make a difference to the end of life care people in the UK receive.”
For more or to sign up visit at swimathon.org.