The Lions Club of Guernsey, Guernsey Round Table and Variety Club of Guernsey formed the first Swimarathon organising committee under the chairmanship of Harry Bisson in 1977. The proceeds from the event were to be shared equally by the clubs, but importantly could only be spent locally in Guernsey.
At the first Swimarathon 186 teams swam over a period of 34 one-hour sessions. This proved to be a very successful event - both socially and financially. It was started by the Bailiff Sir John Loveridge at 5pm on the Friday and finished at 10pm on the Sunday. Just over 1,000 people took part and the magnificent sum of £19,900 was raised.
Over succeeding years Guernsey Swimarathon has gone from strength to strength and become the island’s greatest community fund raising event. Unlike many similar fundraisers, fun has been the essential quality upon which its success has prospered. Over 50,000 swimmers of all ages have raised more than £1,500,000 for local needs during 43 enjoyable years.
Many Swimarathon traditions have been established, including the challenge of swimming for trophies. Children swim on a distance basis and adults on money raised. Trophy categories include Banks, Hotels, Pubs, Garages, Accountants, Churches, Schools and Clubs. Non-swimmers have participated in rubber dinghies, sub-aqua clubs without surfacing, keep fit clubs without swimming and the event even had its own TV station for a few years!
Guernsey Variety Club faded some years back and Round Table and Lions Club are now the organisers and beneficiaries, receiving funds which are then distributed to local good causes. Quite often the two clubs agree to pool Swimarathon resources towards a common goal.
Although Swimarathon was given the use of the Beau Sejour pool free of charge in its early years, later, when charges were introduced the organising committee was able to offset costs due to the generosity of local sponsors.
We were delighted to announce that from 2010 Skipton International is our sponsor, with the event now known as the Skipton Swimarathon.