We’re celebrating Marathon Swims first birthday today (24 July 2018), so we felt it was the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months.
The story starts with the amazing support of the social enterprise Better/GLL. National Sport and Aquatics Manager Andrew Clark and National Swimming Development Manager Emma Lewis supported the initiative from day one. We were really thankful for their ambition, trust and foresight. It is not every day that you are able to hire an Olympic venue, and to have the full support and backing from the operators was a great boost.
GLL/Better were recruited as a Founding Partner, Cancer Research UK as the Charity Partner and Zoggs as swim brand partner. This wider support was critical and we are grateful to all our Partners for seeing the potential in the sport of swimming and with our redefined version of it.
Next, we needed a team. With considerable events experience with British Swimming, British Triathlon and as a freelancer, and someone who understood the need to innovate in the sport, Natasha Cuthbert was the perfect choice as Race Director.
Monday 24 July 2018 – Marathon Swims is launched to the public. We launched with zero database and only a nascent social media following. Despite this lack of initial reach, we always felt that if the idea was strong enough, people will follow, engage and hopefully enter. We were confident in our idea and the all-important first few entries started to trickle in.
The Sport Industry Daily featured the launch, which brought us to the attention of the industry. The support and acknowledgement we received from our peers was very encouraging. We were especially pleased to see the references to our innovation and disruption of the swimming event market. There was approval of our unique format and most of all we could see that we had succeeded in communicating how Marathon Swims was different and the benefits of this difference.
Support, social media and entries grew over the summer and less than 10 weeks after launch Marathon Swims was SOLD OUT. We were delighted, but now the challenge of delivering a unique format never before attempted in a pool for a swimming event. The event was brilliantly delivered by Natasha and the team – and huge thanks goes to all the volunteers and team who truly went above and beyond to deliver such an amazing experience.
The participants were inspiring – embracing the format, taking on a significant challenge and raising so much for charity. There were some amazing stories from the event – here’s our top 10 highlights of Marathon Swims 2017.
Buoyed (pun intended) from our success, we wanted to share our story further. We entered two prestigious awards: BT Sport Industry Awards (Participation Event of the Year) and the UK Active Awards (New Concept of the Year). We were delighted to be shortlisted for both. To go from a Powerpoint presentation to top industry awards night in just four months and to be competing against the industry big players with multi-million pound budgets was a great achievement.
Marathon Swims 2018 was launched at the end of January 2018. Following the success of last year, we doubled in size to a two-day event (10 and 11 November). Entries are very strong and we’re already sold out of the Marathon 10k (individual) on Saturday 10 November and anticipating another sell out.
... And by way of a birthday gift - use code: HAPPYBIRTHDAY to claim 10% discount on all Marathon Swims challenges (valid until 31 July 2018). Enter here.
What’s next? UK-wide series? Global series? We can’t wait to share our birthday update next year!