Thousands of swimmers set to take part in 24-hour Sunderland swimathon

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SUNDERLAND’S leaders swapped suits for swimming trunks as they issued a rallying cry to waterbabies in their wards.

Wearside is gearing up for the city’s 24-hour swimathon event which forms part of the city’s warm up for the Olympic games – dubbed Sunderland in 2012.

Up to 3,000 swimmers are expected to take part in the event, and councillors are calling on people in their communities to make a splash in the event at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

Councillor Speding, Cabinet Secretary at Sunderland City Council, said: “Part of the Sunderland in 2012 programme is encouraging healthy competition between the areas to see who can get the most people to take part.

“The Swimathon is a perfect chance for councillors to spread the word and encourage people to get involved.

“People don’t need to worry about swimming for 24 hours. They will swim in teams of up to six people for just one hour, taking turns to swim 25m lengths, one at a time.”

He added: “However, we do have one team of triathletes taking part who are going to swim for the full 24 hours.”

The Sunderland in 2012 programme is designed to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It includes a variety of sporting, arts and cultural events and opportunities to take part, by either doing, watching or supporting through volunteering in Sunderland in 2012.

Councillors Peter Gibson, Bernie Scaplehorn and Ellen Ball donned coloured swim caps which represent their ward areas as they took the plunge alongside Coun Speding, while councillors Sue Watson, Doris MacKnight and John Scott shouted words of encouragement from the poolside at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

The swimathon runs from 12pm on Friday March 23 until 12pm Saturday March 24.

The event costs £2 per person, and spectators can support for free.

Teams have the choice of the hour they wish to swim, whether they are night owls or early birds.

People taking part in the event are encouraged to raise money for their chosen charity.

For more information, visit www.sunderlandin2012.co.uk, email sunderlandin2012@sunderland.gov.uk or tel. 561 4659.

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