By Paul Wilson, a member of the Rotary Club of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, and Rotary Global Swimarathon event coordinator
The Rotary moment that changed my world was watching 14-year-old Moin Junnedi, India’s youngest national Paralympian, completing his swim in last year’s Rotary Global Swimarathon. Junnedi suffers from a severe brittle bones condition which has meant he’s suffered with over 200 fractures during his young life. Just a day or two before this swim, he suffered four fractures, but was so determined to take part. It was pure inspiration, as this video shows.
For more than 23 years, my club, the Rotary Club of Grantham, Lincolnshire, in District 1070 (England) has held an annual Swimarathon event raising over £560,000 (US$883,000) for local charities.
Inspired by the London Olympics in 2012, we set out to share the magic of our event with Rotary clubs around the world. I had the privilege of leading a 10-month social media campaign using videos, pictures and regular updates which enabled us to get support from Rotary clubs across all six continents.
Despite all the obvious time zone and language barriers, Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, and other members of the Family of Rotary made that dream come true, supported and inspired by Paralympians, Olympians, and World Champions. The most inclusive and biggest simultaneous global swimming event in human history took place from 12:00 to 13:00 G.M.T on 25 February, 2012.
Guinness World Records officially recorded 4,546 participants aged between 8 and 93 synchronizing their 100 meter swims in the exact same hour across 15 different time zones. The effort raised more than $100,000 for polio eradication.
So we are doing it again for 2013, Rotary’s 108th anniversary. Already, 188 clubs in 43 countries and six continents are planning to take part. You can see how widespread the support is on the Rotary Global Swim map
In every second of that 24 hours somewhere in the world people will be swimming in the event. All you have to do to help is find at least one person who can swim on 23 February 2013 and register on the website.
Then just let us know where you are swimming, at what time, with how many people and after the event tell us how much you raised and for which charities. Please join us, be part of something bigger than all of us.