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A group of swimminers in Shannon Leisure Centre and other pools will complete 150 kilometres in a charity swim for EVA, starting on Thursday, May 24. Photograph by John Kelly.

Shannon Swimmers Make Big Charity Splash

A GROUP of Shannon swimmers will make a big splash for a Clare charity this Thursday by aiming to complete 150 kilometres in the pool, which is the equivalent of the length of the coast of Clare for charity.

Swim coaches in the Shannon Swimming and Leisure Centre have organised people to swim the distance from Doolin to Shannon in their own swimming pool and in other pools.

The charity swim will take about 6,000 lengths of a 25-metre pool to complete the necessary 81 nautical miles.

It will be completed from 12 noon on Thursday, May 25 to Friday, May 26 in Shannon Swimming and Leisure Centre and other swimming pools.

Ennis Voices for Autism, which is a support group of parents of Autistic children, started providing subsidised one-to-one swimming lessons in the Shannon Leisure Centre in the summer of 2017.

These lessons have proven to be extremely popular, helping a very large number of Autistic children to become comfortable with getting into the water initially before progressing on to learning various swimming strokes.

All funds raised go towards funding subsided one-to-one swimming lessons for Autistic children through EVA. Members of the public can pay for a swim in Shannon, do their swim and make a voluntary contribution.

A record of all swims will be kept on the whiteboard on pool deck.
Shannon Leisure Centre is at the penultimate stage of a 16-week programme coaching up to 25 adults to increase their swim distance from two lengths to a mile.

One of these swimmers proposed they should complete this challenge for EVA, which was agreed and the entire group with swim a mile as part of the charity swim.

A group that goes swimming on Friday mornings in Shannon will also be included as part of the charity swim. Volunteers have agreed to complete lap counting during the 24-hour period.

Financial controller Eavan McCarthy and her husband, John, who is one of the main swim teachers for EVA lessons, are completing pool lengths in Spain, which will be added to the overall total.

Duty pool manager and swim coach, Rory Ryan told the Clare Champion the leisure centre has a very good relationship with EVA and can see firsthand the benefit of subsidising lessons for many years.

“It is important that all members of the community can access swimming lessons. One-to-one swimming lessons are an investment. I would hate to see Autistic children missing out on swimming lessons due to a lack of funding.

“EVA swimming lessons are geared towards the individual needs of the child. Swimming in a pool can be different every day depending on the numbers at a particular time. A person could come at 2pm on Friday for six weeks and every Friday the environment could be different.

“Any Autistic child with sensory issues will be scheduled for a swim lesson at a quieter time. We always try and include children in time slots that suit them. It could take a full set of lessons to get a child from the side of the pool into the water comfortably on their own.

“That is still progress. It is very important for any child to have water awareness and confidence is very important. For a child to be able to float on their back can make a big difference when they go to swim in the sea or lake.

“We have seen children that went from one-to-one EVA lessons to joining our group and then our lane swimming lessons. There is nothing to stop that progression. We live on an island where everyone should be able to swim,” he said.

Anyone is welcome to participate in any pool and submit their distance to the pool in Shannon for inclusion in the total.

Any posts showing distances swam or with any promotion on social media are encouraged to use the hashtag #swimforeva

Ennis Voices for Autism (EVA) are delighted with this fantastic fundraising initiative.
A few years ago, EVA secretary, Gearoid Mannion recalled the group organised subsidised one-to-one swimming lessons for children with Autism at Shannon Leisure Centre.

“Little did EVA know at the time how successful and popular they would become.

“Rory Ryan and the team at Shannon Leisure Centre have been super to work with and EVA are very grateful to them for all their help this past few years.

“EVA are thrilled that so many of our children have learned to feel safe in the water, are now able to tread water and in some cases swim competently. This is a valuable life skill as well as being a healthy and active pastime.

“Many children on the Autism Spectrum tend not to become involved in traditional sports such as GAA and soccer, so we have always believed that swimming was an ideal activity for EVA to promote,” he said.

Anyone who would like to support this charity swim by swimming a few lengths of any pool can contact Rory Ryan in Shannon Leisure Centre on 061 361841.

People can make donations on the following page.

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