Sidmouth Swimathon stalwart Sylvia recognised for 13 years’ participation

PUBLISHED: 12:57 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:57 27 February 2020

L-R Keith Walton, president of Sidmouth Rotary Club, Sylvia Gibbard, Rotarian Nigel Sharp. Picture: Archant

L-R Keith Walton, president of Sidmouth Rotary Club, Sylvia Gibbard, Rotarian Nigel Sharp. Picture: Archant


The first donation of funds raised by the 2019 Sidmouth Swimathon has been presented to an 80-year old woman who has taken part every year since the first swim in 2008.

Sylvia Gibbard with her team The Leviathans at the 2019 SwimathonSylvia Gibbard with her team The Leviathans at the 2019 Swimathon

Sylvia Gibbard received the £2,531 cheque on behalf of the Gateway Homelessness Action Project.

She and her team, the Leviathans, were among the swimmers who raised a total of more than £10,000 in last year's event, which will benefit four charities.

The Gateway project, the Admiral Nurse and Sidmouth Lifeboat were chosen by the Swimathon's organisers, the Sidmouth Rotary Club.

The four Swimathon teams from Sidmouth Golf Club opted to raise funds for their captain's charity, Cancer Research UK.

The Rotary Club invited Mrs Gibbard to the cheque presentation, at the Victoria Hotel, in recognition of her participation in the Swimathon for thirteen consecutive years.

She has close links with Sidmouth Parish Church, where the Gateway project is based.

She has taken part despite various medical complications over the years including a complicated knee operation in 2012.

"Last year I had a frozen shoulder and had to do it with just one arm," she said.

"Another time I had cellulitis on my leg and had it all strapped up and waterproofed around."

In the 13 years of the Swimathon, Mrs Gibbard estimates that she has swum a total of around 195 lengths.

The Rotary Club's president Keith Walton described her as 'marvellous'.

Mrs Gibbard said she enjoys the Swimathon enormously, particularly as swimming is one of the few activities she can still take part in.

She said: "I used to do every sport under the sun. Now I'm reduced to swimming, bellringing and gardening.

"I swim at Sidmouth Swimming Pool every weekday morning."

She praised the Rotarians for having run the event for 13 years and always attracting a large number of teams.

Twenty-seven teams took part in the 2019 Swimathon, totalling 168 people, who swam 2,889 lengths of Sidmouth swimming pool between them.

Cheques will be presented to the other two Rotary-chosen charities, Sidmouth Lifeboat and the Admiral Nurse, in the near future.

The 2020 swimathon will take place on Saturday, October 3.

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