London City Swim 2017 boasts an unusual format. The organisers hope to attract 500 swimmers to each swim 500m. To manage numbers, swimmers will be split into four waves. Then, the fastest 14 men and 14 fastest women will be invited to take part in a 200m sprint-off to determine the overall winners. Meanwhile, those who don’t progress to the second round are invited to watch and join the after swim party.
City Swim started in Amsterdam’s canals in 2012 when Princess, now Queen, Maxima of the Netherlands joined hundreds of other swimmers in the water. Two years ago, the organisers started a second City Swim in New York’s Hudson River. So far, the swims have raised more than £7.5m for MND related charities and to support those living with the disease. Proceeds from London City Swim will go to Project MinE, an international genetic research programme for MND.
Prof Hawking said: “I am delighted to see this great swim come to London. Please jump in and swim for me and all of us with MND; you can really make a difference. With your help, we can get closer to finding a cure.” (You can listen to an audio message from Prof Hawking below).
While there is a definite competitive element to the event (including team prizes), the swim is open to any swimmer who wants to support Project MinE and take part for fun. Those living with MND, including wheelchair users (swimming with a flotation device if necessary), are especially welcome.
The original idea for City Swim came from a group of friends who had swum the Hellespont race in Turkey together. On their return, they decided to create an event in Amsterdam to raise funds for MND and support another friend, Weert Jan Weerts, who had been diagnosed with the disease.
One of the group, Huibert Vigeveno, later moved to London and wanted to replicate the event there.
“Sadly Weert Jan Weerts is no longer with us,” says Vigeveno, “but we can remember him, and support both the Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Stephen Hawking Foundation, by as many people as possible coming to swim on September 22.”
Vigeveno is keen to point out that the water in the Royal Victoria Dock is tested every two weeks against EU bathing regulations to ensure the purity is perfect for open water swimming.
“The water is slightly salty but really clean and pleasant to swim in,” he says.
All event costs are covered by sponsors Intertrust and Barrows. The event is also receiving support from Coca Cola, Heineken and Zoggs. Therefore, every penny of sponsorship money raised in donations goes to Project MinE.
Time and date
Friday 22 September 2017 at 4pm
Royal Victoria Dock, East London
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