A swimming club in Belfast is the latest recipient to receive funding from the Swimathon Foundation.

Leander Swimming Club applied for the grant as part of Swimathon Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund, announced last month, to sustain club finances in the coming months. The club took the decision to freeze membership fees whilst pools are closed and will require additional funds when sessions can begin again. 

The Belfast-based club, which is a registered charity, has been running since 1964 and relies on a team of volunteers to provide a range of leisure and competitive swimming programmes for its 193 members, aged 5 to 70+, at leisure facilities all across Belfast.

The club was set up by Head Coach, Bobby Madine who, at 82 years old, is the oldest practicing coach in Ireland. He coaches high performance teams seven times a week and was awarded a BEM for his services to swimming, including as the Irish coach for swimmers in five Olympic Games from 1972-2012. 

Leander Swimming Club have continued to engage with their members whilst pools have been closed, running virtual challenges and quizzes. They are hoping to use their funding to offer virtual land-based training to bring the club together, maintain a level of fitness and maintain positive health and wellbeing amongst their membership.

Helen Lunny, Funding Lead for Leander ASC said:

Because we don’t have our own pool, we are exempt from a lot of funding and there aren’t really many options for us at the moment. So, anything that can help to get the swimmers back in the pool will be massive. We’ve been trying to keep the swimmers in contact, and we’ve done a number of fun things, via social media, to try and keep connected and keep spirits high.”

“Using the funding for strength and conditioning sessions over Zoom has been great, he is motivating them and its bringing everyone together as well as keeping our fitness levels up. It’s been difficult to keep everyone engaged but this is really helping so far.”