Bishop's Stortford Swimming Club smashes crowdfunding target to raise vital funds to keep it afloat amid coronavirus crisis
Bishop's Stortford Swimming Club is dreaming big again after raising vital funds that will keep it afloat.
The club, which has been operating in the town since 1884, was plunged into financial uncertainty when the coronavirus crisis hit, with the cancellation of two open meets punching an £11,000 hole in its annual income.
The competitive training programme and Learn to Swim school were able to resume in September, but new Covid-19 measures have reduced training hours and pool-hiring opportunities. Only half of the 300 Learn to Swim members have returned to lessons and the club is running at a loss every month.
With some trepidation, the club launched a #KeepStortfordSwimming crowdfunding appeal at the start of the month with a target of £10,000. Half had to be raised by the club with the other half being matched by Sport England.
And, through the generosity of members and supporters along with a corporate sponsorship from Elsenham-based firm Peddymark, the club smashed its target within just three days.
Members got creative for their fundraising and offered incentives such as car washing, ironing, baking cakes, dinners for four and vouchers for local businesses to reward those who put their hand in their pocket.
The Sport England funding has already arrived and the club has now passed the £11,000 mark, with further donations still very much welcome.
"Pre-Covid, BSSC had plans for increasing support to their members and offering more events to younger swimmers in the local community," said the club's press secretary Kat Gore.
"Covid turned it into a fight for survival, but, with support through the crowdfunder campaign, the club can start to dream big again."
The second lockdown has further delayed the resumption of competitive action, but Stortford members were able to enjoy one race night before the new restrictions came into force on November 5.
Swim England has come up with Level X, which allows club swimmers to compete against other athletes all over the country from the comfort of their own training sessions, with clubs posting their results online.
The regular Friday night race nights have had to be put on hold, but members did post some exceptional times at their final training sessions prior to lockdown – some swimmers were first in the region and even in England at the time of uploading.
Club officials dusted off their whites and added visors to their uniforms while the swimmers donned the race costumes they had not used since March.
It was a fun evening as many of the usual competition rules were relaxed with boys and girls in the same race while breaststrokers and flyers went up against backstroke and freestyle specialists.
Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/keep-stortford-swimming to donate to the club's fundraising total.