The Foundation is the owner and custodian of the annual national Swimathon, Open Water Swimathon and School Swimathon events (the latter of which it grant funds). Through the continued successful staging of these events, including the provision of swimming training information, as well as the operation of its swimming Community Grants Scheme, the Foundation encourages and allows members of the public – in their tens of thousands each year - to take part in swimming and to raise funds for charity and other good causes.
The main annual Swimathon started in 1986 and has grown to become the world’s largest pool based fund-raising swim, bringing together swimmers of all ages and abilities and spreading the joys and benefits of swimming whilst raising vital funds for some of the UK’s most deserving charities. In 2019 these charities included Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK, each of which has promoted its charitable activities in association with Swimathon events and to raise funds from members of the public - including those participating in Swimathon.
Since its inception Swimathon has helped raise more than £50 million for a variety of nominated charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, NSPCC, The British Heart Foundation, The Prince’s Trust, Comic Relief, Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK.
The Foundation’s swimming Community Grants Scheme, operated in conjunction with Swim England, awards grants to local organisations whose projects help to promote swimming in local communities. The grants awarded provide much needed financial support for community swimming programmes across the UK.
The Foundation does not have its own office as it is able to make use of the offices of one its Trustees for the purpose of meetings (based in Central London). It does not have full time executive staff and to the extent that it needs to, it sub-contracts its work to a variety of specialist advisers and agencies and supervises the delivery of that work.