Call for waterbabies as Sunderland gears up for swimathon

School crossing patrol officer, Martin Dent jumps into the pool to launch Sunderlands's big 24 hour Swimathon at the Aquatic centre whilst John Plumb and Valerie Mason watch on.

School crossing patrol officer, Martin Dent jumps into the pool to launch Sunderlands's big 24 hour Swimathon at the Aquatic centre whilst John Plumb and Valerie Mason watch on.

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THIS lollipop man is about to make a splash – and he’s hoping others will join him.

The Speedo-wearing crossing patrol worker joined other council employees to launch Sunderland Aquatic Centre’s 24-hour Swimathon.

Work is already well under way for next month’s event which will see almost 3,000 swimmers taking part.

The event is part of the city’s 2012 programme of cultural and sporting opportunities in the run-up to the Olympics.

Councillor Mel Speding, cabinet secretary for the City Council, said: “This will be a fantastic event with a difference and there will be a real buzz about the Aquatic Centre.

“The Sunderland in 2012 programme has ambitious targets but it is all about celebrating London 2012 this year and we have to think big and give people opportunities to take part and enjoy events like this.”

A number of events have been planned across the city to celebrate London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Coun Speding added: “Swimming is a great sport which almost anyone can enjoy, and this is a really inclusive event.

“Teams can be made up of friends, family, work colleagues, sports clubs – basically anyone who wants to take part.”

The swimathon will start at 12pm on Friday, March 23, ending at noon the following day and will see 480 teams of six taking turns to swim 25m lengths for one continuous hour.

Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for Safer City and Culture, said: “We are aiming for 50,000 people to take part in the Sunderland in 2012 programme, so it’s important that people get behind events like the Swimathon, and I’m sure they will.

“The atmosphere inside the Aquatic Centre will be tremendous and teams will be really egging each other on to keep going.

“We would urge everyone interested to spread the word and get their registration forms filled in as soon as possible.

“The event is really affordable at just £12 for a team of six and it’s open to everyone who can swim 25 metres unaided, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for all the family.”

For more information about the Swimathon, visit www.sunderlandin2012.co.uk, e-mail sunderlandin2012@sunderland.gov.uk or call 561 4659.

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