David Wallace switches from the pitch to the pool to take the Swim for a Mile Challenge

David Wallace, former Irish international rugby player, Laura Woods, TV3 presenter, Matt Cooper, Today FM’s The Last Word presenter and Melanie Nocher, retired Olympic swimmer were on hand today to launch Swim Ireland’s third ‘Swim for a Mile Challenge.’

Wallace, Woods and Cooper will be taking part in the challenge which involves 12 weeks of training to reach their ultimate goal of swimming a mile. The challenge which is run by Swim Ireland is open to swimmers of all abilities, from the regular to the lapsed. The events will take place in 12 pools nationwide in the first week of April. To sign up for the challenge visit www.swimforamile.com, the fee is €25 and includes access to a free training programme, coaching clinics delivered by Irish Olympians, on-line training support and advice from qualified Swim Ireland coaches.

The support provided will help to improve swimming technique, increase levels of fitness and ensure readiness to complete the mile (64 lengths of a 25 metre pool, equivalent to the distance swam in an Olympic Triathlon). There is also a new format introduced this year of a 2 x ½ mile (800m) relay programme for those who would like a swimming companion and a shorter distance. Swim Ireland have also opened the programme this year to 12-16 year olds to encourage them to keep up their swimming skills.

Sarah Keane, CEO of Swim Ireland: “Swimming is one of the only sports in which people of all abilities and ages can get involved. Through Swim for a Mile we aim to show this and to encourage everyone to get involved and get active. The Swim for a Mile programme has been specifically developed in line with the Department of Health Guidelines on exercise and aims to encourage people and give them the tools to embark on a new healthier lifestyle. We are excited about the 2016 initiative and the impact it’s going to have in terms of growing the sport and encouraging as many people as possible to experience the benefits of swimming.”

Former Irish international rugby player David Wallace is ready to take on the Swim for a Mile challenge despite being a lapsed swimmer: “I would be far more comfortable on the pitch than I would be in the pool and I don’t consider myself a strong swimmer. But I am really looking forward to taking on this new challenge to swim for a mile. I will be taking part in the coaching clinics in the pool at UL Sport, Limerick which will help to improve my technique and improve my fitness and get me ready for my challenge on the 5th of April. There is a great bonus of swimming being low impact on my body too which after years of the high impact rugby will be very much welcomed.”

TV3 presenter and mum of two, Laura Woods swam competitively as a child and now uses swimming not only for fitness but also as a form of mindfulness: “Getting into the rhythm of doing length after length in the pool quiets my mind completely. Taking on the Swim for a Mile challenge will allow me to give focus to my sessions in the pool and it’s a great motivation for the start of a new year. The relay option of splitting the mile with a friend seems like it could be great fun too!”

Today FM’s The Last Word presenter Matt Cooper is once again an ambassador for the Challenge. Speaking today Matt said: “Doing the ‘Swim for a Mile’ was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in recent years. Completing the mile with so many other people in the pool encouraging each other to do it was great fun and provided a great sense of achievement. Swimming may be an individual thing but everyone helps each other along between lengths and each time I did it I got a little faster too.”

Retired international swimmer Melanie Nocher who is a former Double Olympian and European Medallist said: I have always been passionate about swimming and showing others that it is for everybody and not just competitive swimmers. It is a unique sport in which people of all abilities and ages can get involved.”