The Outdoor Swimming Society is delighted to announce that we are partnering with Level Water as our headline charity of choice.
Level Water is a national charity that teaches disabled children to swim and has been a charity partner at OSS events since 2016. Over the last two years 461 swimmers have chosen to fundraise for Level Water at our events. Between them they raised £95,000, which is spent directly on swimming programmes for disabled children around the country.
The number of swimmers at the Swoosh and Dart10k (and now Hurly Burly) choosing to swim for Level Water has been increasing year on year. This year is going to be our biggest yet: in 2018 800 swimmers and 40 volunteers will support Level Water throughout the year. It’s made a significant impact on the size and growth of the charity, and that positive effect is one the OSS wishes to help to grow.
“The main reason for this move is the strength of support in both directions,” says OSS Founder Kate Rew. “There is a great fit between our aims and the charity’s work. The charity is enabling children who might not otherwise be able to, to swim; and is actively promoting outdoor swimming to new audiences and introducing new people to outdoor swimming. This is all positive, and fits with our desire to increase participation from people with disabilities at our events. There is obviously strong support amongst our members, with so many choosing to support Level Water at our events in 2018.”
As a result of 2018’s fundraising support, Level Water expects to be able to teach 300 disabled children to swim, who otherwise would never have learnt to swim. They are currently teaching 500 children each year, so our partnership means that they can grow their programme substantially.
Ian Thwaites is Level Water’s Director. “We truly love the OSS, its culture and what it stands for. I am a lifelong swimmer, and the combination of achievement, adventure, nature and community is beautifully unique. Our relationship has grown steadily and naturally over the past three years and we are blessed to be able to support and benefit from such magical events. Every fundraiser we meet has a history, motivation and passion that we want to hear more of, and they all go home with a shared sense of contribution and achievement.”
The Level Water model is to give children with disabilities one on one lessons for a year or more, after which time they can typically join mainstream swimming lessons. “Without that boost these individuals might not be able to get into the water, but with it – hopefully whole oceans will open up before them, says Rew. “Swimming in the Midmar Mile swim event in South Africa 10 years ago, seeing triple amputees compete, I learnt how forgiving water is, and that disability is no barrier to swimming in open water. It is a delight to work with a charity that is so empowering.”
“Level Water works with children for a long period of time (often 18 months), and we see an incredible transformation in confidence and self-belief through our work,” says Thwaites. “Without our work, most disabled children will never learn to swim. As a result of OSS fundraisers we have seen children go on to surf and to win the World Dwarf Games. Perhaps most importantly, most of our children can swim regularly with their friends and families, enjoy the water on holiday and choose to make sport a regular part of their lives. We are currently working in fifty pools across the UK, and as a result of this partnership we will be able to open at least 20 new pools, each teaching 10-15 children every week.”
Swimmers at our events will remain free to swim for any charity or none, and OSS support of second tier charities at each event will continue. (We are looking for a local charity who would like to work with us in North Wales!)
Level Water swimmers come from all walks of life and the full spectrum of swimming experience. They have had competitive swimmers, International para-swimmers and first-time open water swimmers.
The Dart10k and Swoosh are now full, but there are still Level Water places at the Hurly Burly on the 29th September in North Wales. ‘This is a great and challenging swim,’ says OSS Director Kate Rew, ‘to add to the distance we have autumnal temperatures, and all the wind, rain and weather that North Wales can throw at us – which can be substantial!’.
Dom Capon swam the Dart 10k for Level Water. “The Dart10k was the first event of this size and nature that I’d entered. Fundraising for Level Water made me incredibly resolute in my goal to complete it in as fast a time as I could manage. It was the donations to Level Water that made me get out of bed and in the water nearly every day for weeks and weeks of training. I very much doubt that I would have pushed as hard as I did without that motivation. The atmosphere at the end was giddy. I was completely overjoyed and surrounded by so many other people all in the same slightly life headed, but totally ebullient mood. Swimming is so often a very lonely, singular experience, so to be able to share such a wonderful experience with kindred spirits was something very special indeed.”
Luke Van Meter is a committed supporter and has swum multiple OSS events for Level Water. “I fundraised for Level Water because it immediately spoke to me. If you are a swimmer the one thing you know or have experienced is “the moment.” “The moment” when you are no longer afraid of the water and instead experience the complete freedom and thrill of relaxation. Swimming, water, allows ANYONE to have that moment and I was excited to help Level Water achieve that.”
If you would like to know more about Level Water – or support them directly – there are a number of ways you can get in touch.