Ards Borough Council is calling for centre users to jump in at the deep end and not get butterflies by taking part in a 20km swimming challenge to raise money for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.
The swimming challenge is being hosted in Ards Leisure Centre by Ards Borough Council, in association with Cancer Focus (formerly the Ulster Cancer Foundation), throughout April and May.
Participants have to swim a total of 20km (12.5miles) – the equivalent of the distance between Jersey and Guernsey – in order to successfully complete the test and raise vital sponsorship funds for the leading local cancer charity.
The Mayor of Ards, Alderman Hamilton Gregory, said: "The Council is always keen to support local charities and I think that this initiative is a great way for people to set a fitness goal, have some fun, and raise vital funds at the same time. Plus, this is a fundraiser that the whole community can get involved in either by participating or by sponsoring someone who is."
Cancer survivor Ann Tweedie from Newtownards is taking part in this year's challenge to raise awareness of the charity and to challenge herself to keep fit.
She said: "I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, and I underwent chemotherapy treatment during which time I noticed how vast a difference being a member of Ards Leisure Centre and being fit made to my ability to cope with the intensive course of drugs.
"Thankfully I am now better and supporting my husband of over 50 years to join me to complete the Cancer Focus Swim Challenge – he was there for me when I was sick with cancer and I am now able to encourage him to complete the 20km swim, which is especially significant for us as we got engaged in Guernsey (one of the challenge 'destinations').
Cancer Focus provides a wide range of lifeline services to help families affected by cancer across Northern Ireland as well as working alongside local communities to help people take positive steps to a healthier life to lower the risk of cancer.
Joyce Savage, Head of Appeals and Marketing, Cancer Focus, said: "This is an excellent idea for a fundraiser. Not only are those taking part helping cancer patients and their families in Northern Ireland, but it's a brilliant chance to get fitter."
Ian O'Neill, manager of Ards Leisure Centre, is encouraging local people to take up the fitness challenge and support the local charity.
He said: "Ards Leisure Centre is delighted to host the swim challenge for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and help people raise money for such a worthy cause."
"The total challenge equates to 800 lengths of our main pool, so you don't need to be a professional swimmer to take part. By my calculations people only need to swim under 20 lengths per day during April and May to complete the feat."
For further information or to obtain an entry form please contact Ards Leisure Centre, Tel: 028 9181 2837 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.