The Haywards Heath Lions Club's Swimarathon is an annual charity fundraising event held at the Dolphin Leisure Centre on Good Friday. Teams of six swimmers are invited to swim in a 55-minute-long relay to raise money for a good cause of their own choice and for the Lions' selected good cause.

For 2020, the Lions have chosen to support the West Sussex North Branch Of The Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Good Friday 10th April 2020

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting.

MND can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. However, not all symptoms necessarily happen to everyone and it is unlikely they will all develop at the same time, or in any specific order.

The West Sussex North branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association provides several facilities, including complementary therapy and individual transport to St Thomas' Hospital for respiratory treatment.

The cost of a therapist, who is coordinated by St Peter and St James hospice, is around £13,000 a year for one therapist. The transport to and from London is around £300 per journey. Any money donated to MND West Sussex North will be ring fenced for this area and go towards supporting these services.

Entries for 2020 open in January

The Swimarathon enables teams of swimmers of all ages to raise money for a charity or good cause of their own choice and for the good cause chosen by Haywards Heath Lions Club. The sponsorship money raised by each team is paid to Haywards Heath Lions Club, who then distribute it to the charities and good causes. Half of each team's sponsorship is donated to that team's chosen charity or good cause, and half to the Lions' chosen good cause.

The key objective is to raise as much money as possible while having fun!

Report from the 2019 Swimarathon

In 2019 sixty-four teams swam 6,013 lengths and in total £21,781.49 was raised. A donation of £15,000 was presented to Headway East Sussex, and the remainder paid to the other good causes chosen by the individual teams.

Competition winners 2019

CompetitionWinning teamLengths
Age 11 and underCosmic Cubs89
Age 15 and underThe Water Devils193
Primary schoolTrips and Some133
Secondary school years 7-9Downlands208
OpenPool Noodles222
Family teamNosmig161
Swimming Club OpenWater Polo Blue Hats235
Masters 240 yearsTop Floaters Return215
Masters 300 yearsSplasherdashers201
Masters 360 yearsCappuccino153

If you have any questions not covered in the FAQ below, please use the contact details below.

Entries for 2020 open in January

Frequently asked questions

How does sponsorship work?

Sponsorship is for the whole team, not the individual swimmer. All sponsorship money must be paid to Haywards Heath Lions Club Charity Trust Fund by 19 May 2019.

Can I collect sponsorship online?

Yes, on entry each team will be sent a link to an online sponsorship page.

When is the next Swimarathon?

The next swimarathon will take place on Friday 10th April 2020 (Good Friday). The first teams start at 8am and the final teams start at 6pm.

Where does the Swimarathon take place?

The Dolphin (Leisure Centre), Pasture Hill Road, Haywards Heath, RH16 1LY.

How do I enter a team in the Swimarathon?

The online entry form will be available on this website from January 2020.

Who organises the Swimarathon?

2020 will be the 37th year that Haywards Heath Lions Club has run the Swimarathon. Haywards Heath Lions Club is a friendly service organisation, which raises money for good causes mostly within the local area.

How is the sponsorship money collected and distributed?

Each team is given an online donation page by Haywards Heath Lions Club. Paper sponsorship forms are also available if required. The sponsorship money raised by each team is paid to Haywards Heath Lions Club Charity Trust Fund, which then distributes it to the charities and good causes. Half of each team's total sponsorship is donated to that team's chosen charity or good cause by the Lions, and half to the Lions' chosen charity.

Can I give all of my team's sponsorship money to the Haywards Heath Lions' chosen good casuse?

Yes - you can select to give all your team's sponsorship money to the Lions' chosen good cause.

Who is the Lions' chosen good cause for 2020?

This year the Lions have selected the West Sussex North branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Why is Gift Aid important?

It is important that you ask all your sponsors (if they are UK tax payers) to tick the Gift Aid box (whether they are donating online or on paper). This allows Haywards Heath Lions Club to claim an additional 25p from HMRC on every £1 donated.

How much money does my charity or good cause get?

A team's chosen charity or good cause receives half of the sponsorship money collected by that team. The money will be paid to the charity or good cause by Haywards Heath Lions Club.

Who can I choose for my charity or good cause?

All good causes are welcome. In 2019 teams raised money for causes ranging from local and international charities to local schools, Guides and sports clubs.

How many people should be in a team?

Each team should consist of six swimmers and an adult non-swimming length counter. All seven should collect sponsorship. Other supporters may also collect sponsorship for the team.

Can my team have fewer than six swimmers?

Yes, but your team will not be eligible for the competition.

Who can be in a swimming team?

There are no age restrictions, however the pool is 25m long and swimmers need to be able to complete several one-length swims during the 55 minutes.

What is the format of the Swimarathon?

Teams are allocated a swim time and lane. Each swim starts on the hour and swimmers complete lengths for 55 minutes in a relay style. The non-swimming length-counter keeps a tally of the number of lengths swum by the team.

What do swimmers receive for taking part?

All participants are presented with a medal after their swim. If proof of completion of the swim is needed to collect sponsorship this will be available after the event.

Can I recycle my medal?

Yes. Swimmers can voluntarily return their medal, and Haywards Heath Lions Club will make a donation to the main beneficiary for each one received.

Is there a competetive element to the Swimarathon?

Yes, teams may elect to enter one category of competition, which can be seen on the application form. Certificates will be awarded to the team which completes the most lengths in each of the categories. Trophies will be awarded to the Primary and Secondary school teams completing the most lengths. Trophies will be retained by the winning schools for 12 months, and then returned.

What are the rules for entering the schools' competitions?

Teams entering the competitions must contain exactly 6 swimmers who are all attending that school at the time of the event, and in the case of secondary schools must be in the appropriate year groups.

What are the rules of the competition?

Teams must have exactly 6 swimmers, who must swim in order, with each swimmer completing their length before the next swimmer starts their length.

What is the record number of lengths swum?

The overall record for the event stands at 250 lengths. The record for a 15-and-under team is 220 lengths. Teams aiming to break a record must notify Haywards Heath Lions Club in advance.

How long has the Swimarathon been running?

The 2020 Swimarathon will be our 37th consecutive year running the event.

How much money was raised last year?

The 2019 swimarathon raised £21,781.49. A donation of £15,000 was presented to Headway East Sussex, and the remainder paid to the other good causes chosen by the individual teams.

Can I help on the day?

Yes! Please use the contact details below if you'd like to volunteer to help for all or part of the day.

Can I or my employer sponsor the Swimarathon?

Yes! Please use the contact details below.

Contact us

If you'd like to get in touch for any reason, please email swim@hhlionsswim.co.uk or telephone 01444 451157.