BHF CYMRU AND SWIM WALES ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO GET INTO WATER ON WORLD HEART DAY
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This World Heart Day, Wednesday 29th September, BHF Cymru, the British Heart Foundation in Wales is teaming up with Swim Wales to encourage people of all ages to Get Into Water and take part in the Swim 60 Challenge, to improve their health and raise vital funds to power the charity’s life saving research into heart and circulatory disease.
As the restrictions of the pandemic are easing, Swim Wales and the BHF want to encourage everyone to make the most of the opportunity to get back to the pool. They want to highlight how regular aquatic activity can improve social, emotional and physical wellbeing, be a life saving skill and maintain and improve heart health.
Marking the BHF’s 60th year as a charity, the campaign is focused around encouraging non-swimmers and all swimmers of all abilities to take to the water and set themselves a challenge based around the number 60.
Nikki James, Area Fundraising Manager for the BHF said, “Whatever your level of swimming, there will be a challenge that’s perfect for you. Our friends at Swim Wales have suggested that keen swimmers can push themselves to clock how many metres they can swim in 60 days, leisure swimmers can take to the water for a 60 length challenge, everyone can get creative and set their own personal goal from blowing bubbles, to shots on target, playing games, counting handstands, and floating, and for teams we’re asking them to get competitive and see what they can achieve together.”
This partnership will see the National Governing Body for Aquatics in Wales and the UK’s leading funder of cardiovascular research engage with the population of Wales to share the benefits that aquatic exercise brings to people’s lives and highlights real-life examples, and the positive impact swimming has on people’s lives.
Swim Wales’ national #getintowater campaign launched in May 2021 to encourage everyone in Wales to get active in the water in a fun way. This message is fundamental to Swim Wales vision, ‘aquatics for everyone for life’. This joint campaign with BHF Cymru is something that everyone can join in with, regardless of background, age, or ability.
16-year-old swimmer Garyn Jones from Neath credits his fitness from swimming for his lightning speed recovery, which saw him get out of his intensive care bed and walk around just one day after open heart surgery.
The Neath ASC swimmer and Vice-captain underwent corrective surgery and had a pacemaker fitted at just 11 months old, following his diagnosis of a Congenital Heart Defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He has since received a further three open heart surgeries.
The surgical team at the hospital call him ‘the swimmer’. They placed Garyn on an enhanced recovery programme following his valve replacement surgery in 2020, meaning he was out of bed and at home much quicker than expected, with surgeons praising his fitness levels for this achievement.
Garyn’s parents became concerned about their baby’s breathing when he was just two weeks old. Initially they were sent home from the out of hours doctor, but mum Nicola listened to her instincts and took her son to the GP. He was referred to different specialist teams in Wales where he got his diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot.
Nicola said: “We were obviously really afraid when we got the diagnosis, I guess my advice to others now would be to not let a diagnosis, heart condition or anything else hold you back.”
Garyn began swimming competitively with Neath ASC, after being told by doctors that contact sports could present a risk to his pacemaker. Despite this turbulent journey medically Garyn hopes his experiences will encourage others into the pool.
Garyn said: “I hope I can inspire others to take up swimming, It’s the full package – it’s helped me loads – obviously my physical fitness, but the social side has really helped to build up my confidence and I love the competitions.
“The club is really supportive, it’s like we are one big family. I think they were a little worried to start, but they welcomed me in straight away, they know my limits and they adapt for me. It is very competitive, but we all have a laugh”
Whilst heart conditions like Garyn’s are invisible disabilities, swimming has highlighted his scars that are a consequence of the surgeries. People sometimes stare, but Garyn isn’t afraid to discuss them.
Garyn said: “My scars are what make me, me. I think they are really cool. I sometimes tell people I fought a shark, but then I will tell them about the surgeries.”
Mum Nicola said: “He’s amazing and takes everything in his stride, we are so proud of everything he has been through, and he doesn’t let his heart condition hold him back. Swimming has not only helped Garyn physically, through the club and the swimming community he has made new friends and has enjoyed competitive and training opportunities at home and away, giving him great experiences, levels of independence and confidence.”
Fergus Feeney, CEO, Swim Wales said: “We are always inspired when we hear of stories like Garyn’s, what an amazing guy he is. Swim Wales has advocated the physical and mental health benefits of swimming for many years, and this is yet another example of how it can help a person excel in life. We wish Garyn, his supportive family, and club the very best as they continue to enjoy the benefits of aquatic sport.”
Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru said, “The health benefits of swimming are well recognised. Swimming is one of the few activities that work your whole body. Breaststroke, backstroke, front crawl, butterfly and even doggy paddle get your legs and arms moving. This in turn works your back and core muscles. Regular exercise is important for everyone to maintain their health and swimming can be an enjoyable rehabilitation activity for people with heart conditions, following advice from their medical team. BHF Cymru is proud to partner with Swim Wales on this fantastic event which will help us fund life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.”
Fergus Feeney, CEO Swim Wales said, “Swim Wales are delighted to be partnering with the British Heart Foundation in Wales, in their 60th Anniversary Year. The Swim 60 Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages and abilities across Wales (and beyond) to #getintowater and complete their own 60 challenge in whatever shape or form suits them. Whether it is swimming every now and again over 60 days, swimming 60 km in a month, 60 lengths of the pool in one session or even blowing 60 bubbles in a Learn to Swim class, any aquatic activity will be good for you and will encourage others to help us raise valuable funds for this great national cause.
“The British Heart Foundation share our appreciation of the health benefits of aquatic activity, and we know that the Welsh public will dive straight in to this great Swim 60 Challenge. I look forward to seeing all of the fantastic achievements and stories come in over the next few weeks and months.”
To find out more about the challenge click here
To register and take part click here
You can donate at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/britishheartfoundation/getintowater