About Swimathon

Swimathon is proud to be the world’s largest annual fundraising swim which is hosted at approximately 600 pools across the UK each year. Swimathon 2020 will take place on the weekend of 27th – 29th March, when swimmers will take on challenges ranging from 400m to the Triple 5k to raise money for our charity partners Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.  Swimathon has raised over £50 million in its history and is at the heart of many swimming pools’ annual promotion and marketing campaigns. 

Swimathon recognises its responsibility towards the planet and is committed to doing everything we can to reduce the impact of the event on the environment.


Environmental sustainability aims

 To reduce our impact on the environment, Swimathon has the following aims in 2020:

  • Eliminate single use plastic
  • Reduce the quantity of materials produced
  • Use sustainable materials wherever possible
  • Encourage re-use of materials
  • Ensure all recyclable goods are clearly labelled
  • Continue to ensure suppliers meet ethical standards of labour, health & safety, environment and business ethics


Swimathon’s environmental impact

 Thanks to Swimathon’s emphasis on community, participants are encouraged to take part in a Swimathon challenge at their local pool. This reduces the amount of travel by participants and means that we are using pre-existing facilities. As a result, only a small amount of materials are produced for the event. 

We endeavour to work with partners who are also committed to sustainability; our swim brand partner Zoggs have committed to having 100% sustainable packaging and 60% of their swimwear made from recycled materials. You can read their plastic promise here.


What items have we produced previously? 

As a reward for completing their Swimathon challenge, all participants receive a swim cap and medal. In addition to this, we have previously rewarded those participants who fundraised £300 or more with an exclusive Swimathon towel and those who fundraised £100 or more with a t-shirt. All pools who take part in Swimathon receive a pack of marketing materials to help promote the event and some materials to assist with running their sessions on the day.


What is the impact of these materials?

All items produced for Swimathon have been audited to assess the following: 

  • Modes of transport used
  • Packaging and merchandise materials
  • Quantities

What have we done to reduce the impact in 2020?


Where materials are being produced abroad, they will be ordered in advance to ensure they can be shipped to the UK. By choosing to ship items, we can ensure we reduce carbon emissions by avoiding air freight which has a significantly higher environmental impact.



We have eliminated non-recyclable single-use plastic. All materials will now be packed in either recyclable or biodegradable packaging which will be clearly marked with recycling instructions. Where possible, we have removed packaging entirely. We have removed stickers and balloons from our marketing materials: 3,600 less stickers and 7,000 balloons will no longer end up in landfill.



In order to reduce waste, we have identified ways to encourage re-use of our materials and how to reduce the amount of materials produced. We will focus on producing high quality digital materials to promote Swimathon and providing fewer physical items. In comparison to 2019, we have produced 36% less leaflets and 19% less posters for 2020. 

We have reduced our order of swim caps by 10% to avoid wastage. Participants will be encouraged to re-use their swim caps, these should not be used as one-off items. Pools will be encouraged to donate any leftover materials to swim schools or clubs.

We have reduced the quantity of participant t-shirts ordered by 73%. In a change to the fundraising incentive scheme in 2020, t-shirts will only be available for purchase (with at least 50% of every purchase going to charity) and will be re-ordered as needed to avoid ordering unnecessary stock.


Ethical Standards 

We will continue to liaise with suppliers to ensure they meet ethical audit formats, which ensure they reach an accepted standard of corporate social responsibility.



All materials will be clearly labelled and accompanied by clear recycling instructions for participants and our Swimathon Directors to ensure that nothing goes to landfill.

For more information on our environmental actions, please contact the Swimathon team on info@swimathon.org or 0845 36 700 36.



Marie Curie




Swimathon Foundation


Swim England


Scottish Swimming


Swim Wales


Outdoor Swimmer


Beyond Swim


Just Giving