Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Rotary Global Swimarathon sets new Guinness World Record and saves lives
How do you get 159 people out of their beds at 1am in the morning to swim 100 metres all in the name of charity? Just ask the world-leading Rotary Club of Matamata in the heart of the Waikato region in New Zealand.
Earlier this year, Matamata was one of 119 clubs worldwide that took part in the Rotary Global Swimarathon for polio eradication – an English Rotary Club of Grantham in Lincolnshire initiative to raise funds for Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign while also raising the profile of the cause.
Matamata club, with a membership of 54, led the fundraising effort worldwide, with a staggering NZ$22,000 raised for Rotary’s polio eradication programme. Matamata then president Eric Muckle emphasised this amounted to almost 20 per cent of the total money raised from the Global Polio Swimarathon.
“We are absolutely delighted to lead the world in this event,” he said. “Matamata is a small town of 7,000 people, and for our community to embrace the event in the manner they did was incredibly heart-warming. On the night, almost the entire club turned out to lend a hand. Two participants raised in excess of $5,000 between them, and then District Governor Raewyn Kirkman was among the swimmers.
“The awareness this event created in our community was huge. We were able to get the whole town aware of it and then to have the number of people swimming in the early hours of the morning was fantastic!
“One lady in her 70s and confined to a wheelchair even came along and swam four lengths of one-arm backstroke to aid the cause.
“We are all very proud of what our club managed to achieve in this event,” Eric said. “It just goes to show that if you get a worthwhile project and involve your community, the results will follow.”
It’s now official! The Rotary Global Swimarathon set a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of participants. 4,546 swimmers from all across the world could not resist and made a splash in the hour long swimarathon charity event, which took place in over 64 locations across the world. All swimmers dived into action simultaneously between 12-1pm GMT on February 25, 2012. The previous record was set at 2,533. This year’s fun event raised over US$101,000 to fund and administer the polio vaccine.
Go to www.rotaryglobalswimarathon.org to join in next year on February 23 when the Rotary Global Swimarathon will swim around the world once more …