Cooma resident, eight-year-old Jacob Suthern has been named as an ambassador for the YMCA Swimathon in 2013 after being a top fundraiser in the national fundraising event in 2012.
Jacob, who set a modest goal to raise $100 and swim 100 metres for the inaugural YMCA Swimathon this year, ended up swimming an incredible 600 metres at YMCA-managed Cooma Festival Pool and raising $1,442. Overall, Jacob was the ninth largest individual fundraiser in the country. The cause for the YMCA Swimathon - to help people with a disability in local communities across NSW learn vital swimming and water safety skills - was something close to Jacob's heart. The school Jacob attends, Cooma Public School, has a special needs unit and one of Jacob's best friends has three siblings with autism.
Money from Jacob's swim has allowed Cooma Festival Pool to grow its Learn-to-Swim program for people with a disability, with 18 children now benefitting from learning lifesaving water skills. In 2013, Jacob wants to swim further and raise more money, and is encouraging the entire community of Cooma to do the same.
"I'm so excited about the YMCA Swimathon in 2013 and I want as many people to join me in the swim on March 3 so more people in our community with a disability can learn to swim," he said.
"I feel lucky that I can swim but I know there are lots of people out there who don't know how to."
Today's launch of the YMCA Swimathon comes as the world also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the United Nations' International Day of People with Disability.
The YMCA Swimathon will be held at 25 YMCA pools in NSW between 10am-11am, including Cooma Festival Pool. Nationally, more than 50 YMCA pools will be taking part, making it Australia's biggest swimming event.
The event caters for all ages and swimming abilities, with a competitive category encouraging participants to nominate How Far they will swim in an hour and How Much they will raise to support this important cause.
Lorraine Alford, Centre Manager at YMCA-managed Cooma Festival Pool, said she wanted to see the entire community get involved in the event in some way.
"Every dollar we raise counts with $15 providing one Learn-to-Swim lesson for a child with a disability, so register now," she said.
Registrations are free and open now at www.ymcaswimathon.org.au or at Cooma Festival Pool.