Hundreds of swimmers will take to the water this weekend to boost a fresh fund-raising bid to help save lives.
Lytham St Annes Lions are backing the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk In The Young) at their swimarathon held at St Annes YMCA Pool – and are looking for at least £7,000 to pay for the cardiac screening of some 200 young people.
With the annual swimarathon having raised more than £190,000 for a wide range of good causes over the past three decades, the Lions are eager to build on the total of more than £20,000 raised at the last two to pay for defibrillators for Fylde schools.
Last year’s record total of 54 sponsored teams, each consisting eight swimmers, looks set to be matched and Lions spokesman Colin Holt said: “Again it has been a brilliant response and thanks to everyone who is taking part.
“We have teams covering the complete age range from young children upwards – including 25 from 12 different schools – and we are looking forward to again raising plenty of cash for a very deserving cause.”
The Lions, looking to prevent tragedies such as the sudden death of St Annes teenager Luke Rutter, who collapsed with heart problems on a tennis court three years ago, already have their sights set on scheduling a CRY screening session at a local venue later this year.
Their efforts have come in or glowing praise from the charity’s founder Alison Cox.
She said: “This is a very special year for CRY as we mark our 20th anniversary.
“Since we launched in 1995, thanks to the generosity and fund-raising efforts of the public across the UK, we have been able to develop and grow a range of specialist services, from screening and research to our network of specialist bereavement support.
“On behalf of all of us at CRY, a huge thank you to the Lytham St Annes Lions for choosing us as a beneficiary and for recognising the importance of cardiac screening.
“We look forward to bringing our screening experts to the area in the near future.”
Among many young participants, Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, where Luke Rutter was a student, and Kirkham’s Carr Hill High School will field 30 students each.
LSA headteacher Philip Wood said: “The school is deeply committed to making provision available that might save a life.
“In the year after Luke’s death, students raised £4,500 for CRY, so we are very happy to support the Lion by entering teams again this year in the Swimarathon.”
Andrew Waller, Carr Hill’s headteacher, said: “I’m pleased that so many of our pupils have volunteered their free time to raise money and awareness for CRY.
“The swimarathon is an excellent opportunity for our students to come together as a team and raise money for a cause they can relate to.
“The swimarathon has always been popular among our students and long may that continue.”
Sunday’s swimarathon will take place at St Annes YMCA Pool on Sunday from, 9am, with the start signalled by Fylde mayor Coun Kevin Eastham.