Inaugural London City Swim makes a splash in Docklands

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London City Swim
  • International MND fundraiser raises over £120,000 with more to come
  • Event supported by Professor Stephen Hawkins and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne

A 43-year-old man who has advanced motor neurone disease (MND) affecting his ability to use his arms, legs and voice was among 320 swimmers who took part in the inaugural London City Swim at the weekend to raise money towards research and awareness in aid of MND.

Jan Kramer, from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was one of the affected and able bodied competitors who took part in the series of 500m races at the Royal Victoria Dock – and swimming with a team of helpers, Jan finished in a time of 22 minutes 8 seconds.

The event was supported by The Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Stephen Hawking Foundation – and enjoyed messages of support from MND Association patrons and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, while a big screen video message from Professor Hawking was played next to the water.

He said: “I am delighted to see this great swim to help raise funds and awareness for motor neurone disease.  To everyone who dives in for me, and all of us living with MND, know that you are making a real difference.  You are inspirational.”

City Swim is an annual fundraiser that started in Amsterdam in 2012, after a group of friends decided to find a way to raise money for a colleague suffering from MND.  It soon took off, with thousands of like-minded locals jumping into Amsterdam’s canals to take part in the inaugural event and has become an annual crowd puller in the city.

Organisers took City Swim to New York two years ago, with swimmers taking part in the Hudson River – and the weekend event was the first time it had taken place in London.

To date, the City Swim events have raised over £8m in aid of research and support for those living with MND, and all money raised in donations from the London event will go to Project MinE, the ground breaking international genetic research programme for MND.

Huibert Vigeveno, Chair, London City Swim, said: “The original idea came as an inspiration six years ago from a group of friends who swam in the Hellespont race in Turkey. While there, they decided that on their return to Amsterdam they would create an event to raise money and awareness for MND and support their friend Weert Jan Weerts who had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

“London City Swim was a fabulous success and we look forward to making it a regular fixture in the capital.”

David de Buck, CEO of sponsors Intertrust, who presented prizes, added: “It’s great to see over 300 swimmers raising awareness and funds for Motor Neuron Disease.  It has been a fantastic event made more so by the commitment from all those across the City who took part. By sponsoring this first London City Swim, we hope to make a small difference in fighting MND.”

The event to date has raised £120,343.09, and that figure is set to grow with donations continuing to come in until next month – the standing total is available on the website: www.londoncityswim.com.