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Reinventing a sport

Imagine yourself mid-way through a marathon, a marathon swim.

You’re half way through a Marathon 10k swim, you glance up at the big screen, you’re in 5thposition overall. You set off at a good pace, but is it sustainable? The scoreboard shows your predicted time of 2 hours 31 minutes and you’re 2 minutes behind the leader.

Two more laps and you’re now in 3rd place with a predicted time of 2 hours 29 minutes. You are energized by the crowd and your friends on poolside. The screen in transition flashes up with the number of laps you have completed so far (a useful reminder) and shows your new record lap time.

The swimmer in first place has finished in a time of 2:28, the time to beat. The dynamic scoreboard and algorithm compares estimated finish times of swimmers still in the pool with the “leaders in the clubhouse”.

Your pace slows slightly as you close in on achieving the marathon swimming distance of 10k. You give it one last big effort in the final 1k. You exit the water, cross the finish line and you’ve done it, you made the podium, third place and the bronze medal…

This is innovation alive and kicking its way into swimming. We didn’t just want to create an indoor swimming distance challenge, we wanted to reinvent the sport. Marathon Swims participants change lanes, get out of the water, run through transition, have race tattoos, chip timing and we even have a penalty box for rule violations. Swimming has been reinvented. Swimming now has its own marathon.

The marathon swim has been an Olympic medal event since Beijing 2008, albeit in open water. The running (26.2 miles) and swimming (10k) marathons are closely aligned. In both sports, the elites will complete the marathon distance in around two hours. Until now, the 10k marathon swimming distance could only be completed in open water events.

Marathon Swims set out to create the “London Marathon of swimming”. Our target venue was of course the London Aquatics Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the pool of champions. We knew we had to get creative and change the rules to deliver an engaging event experience and accurately record the times of thousands of swimmers in a distance challenge.

We are creating a series of events. Every major city in the UK and world has its own running marathon, half marathon and triathlon. With Marathon Swims, cities can now have their own stand-out mass participation swimming event.

What we are looking for next is a forward-thinking, innovative brand to jump on board with us. There are some fantastic examples of brand partnerships that have helped bring often life-changing events and concepts to a wider audience. Gillette saved the first ever London Marathon before it had even started with a last-minute sponsorship, BT took Swimathon nationwide and Bloomberg have taken the Square Mile Relay global. Bloomberg are even able to select the territories and markets they wish to reach through the partnership.

These brands have understood that it is not what they say or sell to you, but it is what brands do for you that matters. And in a world where brands are increasingly losing direct connection to consumers, they know that through authentic participation sport events brands can connect with the audiences in ways that traditional marketing cannot.

The sport of swimming has few commercial partners. The opportunity exists for a brand to make a real difference to the sport, to people’s lives, their employees’ engagement and charity fundraising.

Marathon Swims 2019 (9 and 10 November at the London Aquatics Centre) is set to be another sell out. It is time to take the event to a wider audience and discussions with other partner cities are progressing.

If you represent a brand that wants to support innovation, be involved in an authentic major sports event and help take an engaging concept to the people, then give us a call.

Come on in the water’s lovely. Join us on the Marathon Swims journey as an event partner

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