Swimathon 2019: Ray’s Story

Swimathon is the World’s largest (annual) fundraising swim, where thousands of people up and down the country take part and raise money for two charities close to nation’s heart, Marie Curies and Cancer Research UK.

This challenge is taken on by anyone and everyone, by both regular and casual swimmers and people of all ages. With their new distances, the triple 5K and 400m we hope to see even more people take on the challenge. We will be hosting the Swimathon on Saturday 23rd March, Sunday 24th March and Friday 29th March with a variety of times available.

One team member in particular we hope to support in March is our Swimming Teacher, Ray Mellor. To Ray, age is not a number but a state of mind. He completed the full 5K last year and he hopes to take on the 2019 5K challenge too. I caught up with Ray, just before he was jumping in the water to start his training for this year’s Swimathon.

As a child Ray was not always a fish in the water. It was his children that got him into the world of swimming. He said, “Always having towels and bathing costumes on the radiator started for me following my children’s interest on joining the local swimming club. It also triggered my own addiction to chlorine. Like many parents I became involved with the club helping with the Admin and organising the Galas. Over a period of more than 2 years I completed the teacher/ coaching training which in the late 80s included three levels of accreditation together with the required number of hours on poolside teaching at each level.”

“In my experience the fruit of everything good in life begins with a challenge.”

He had completed his teacher training in a variety of swimming pools including the pool at St Athan’s RAF base. He shared one amusing anecdote with me about his time on the base:
“The pool at the Airforce training base was unique 100ft x 50ft and no shallow end. It was holiday time when we arrived at the practically deserted barracks most of the personnel were on leave. Somehow, we inadvertently circumnavigated the security check and found ourselves inside the perimeter fence driving down the Runway trying to work out which direction to get to the pool and classroom. Before we had time to find our way I saw the Military Police Land rover speeding up behind us in my rear-view mirror. They pulled up alongside us looking very threatening with their stern expressions, and after the customary checking of ID, patting down the four of us and after looking in my boot and under the car etc we were escorted to the Nissan Hut classroom. The next day we arrived at the barracks we were directed through the fully manned security gate house. They opened the boot held mirrors under the car and we were shown to our classroom, no more runway adventures.”

Through all the difficult training, Ray persevered and successfully became one of our top swimming instructors, implementing his energy and enthusiasm into his teaching to help our Adult swimmers improve their technique and confidence in the water. At this point, he was eager to get into the water so he left me with one final thought, “Swimming for fitness has been an enjoyable and important part of my life and continues to give me great pleasure and satisfaction getting in the pool most days for my daily fix of chlorine. Currently I am privileged to inspire adults also to take the plunge and learn to swim thereby experiencing the same reward I enjoy on a daily basis.” 

Why should you take part in Swimathon 2019?

By taking part in the Swimathon, you reap so many wonderful benefits. You not only get to support and help two worthwhile charities but swimming has been proven to improve your mental health. Swimming uses all major muscles groups making it the best form of exercise to tone up and lose weight. Swimathon is not just about fitness and raising money but it is also about having fun and just getting involved with everyone else. There is a great team atmosphere on the day and if all that hasn’t sold you then you get a shiny finisher’s medal at the end.

Distances include 400m, 1.5km, 2.5km and 5km (both 2.5km and 5km can be done as team) and with a  variety of helpful activities running in the National Pool, you will feel fully prepared to take on the Swimathon Challenge. If you want to train on your own then we have a variety of swim plans at reception or if you are motivated by others then you can try out our Adult Fitness and Swim4Tri sessions run throughout the week.

If you are interested in taking the plunge like Ray and want to join us in raising money for two fantastic charities then you can sign up here.