Rotary Wheatbelt Swim for Reading: The Story
The Rotary Swim for Reading came about because a Rotarian cared.
In 2014, new Bruce Rock resident Alison Lockwood swam for polio eradication at the Bruce Rock Aquatic Centre. Alison, a Rotary member, was taking part in the Rotary Global Swimarathon a worldwide initiative to promote and fund the campaign against polio. The Rotary Club of Kwinana led the Global Swimarathon in WA and organised the core state swim at the Kwinana Recquatic Centre.
Alison’s 2014 solo swim was the first Rotary swim for kids in Bruce Rock.
Fast forward to 2015. By then Alison had joined the new Rotary E-Club of Western Australia (“E-WA”) . The Global Swimarathon was not held in WA in 2015 due to renovations at Kwinana pool. Consequently, E-WA decided to continue with the swim in Bruce Rock, but change the focus to our new Early Childhood Literacy Program (now Rotary Love of Reading). The change in focus led a small group of club members and local residents to take part in a fun and informal event.
Kwinana Swim organiser Genevieve Carr came to our 2015 & 2016 swims and provided crucial support as we created our operating framework. (Thank you Genevieve).
Two New Reading Support Programs Launched in 2016
The 2016 Swim was memorable because we chartered our new Rotary club at the event. Charter is an important event for a Rotary club. In keeping with that, we celebrated by inviting local dignitaries to witness then Rotary District Governor Melodie Kevan welcome E-WA to the local community and Rotary International.
We launched two new reading programs at the 2016 Swim. The Rotary Reading Rabbits and Rotary Reading for Life programs were introduced to the Bruce Rock community.
Rotary Swim for Reading went Multi School in 2017
Kero O’Shea coordinated our 2017 Swim and organised our first multi-school event, with Narembeen and Quairading District High Schools joining Bruce Rock DHS. Participants swam 1347 laps, with Ryan from Quairading grabbing the individual record with 140 laps.
In 2017 we offered an incentive to young people to take part in the Swim. We did so by offering places on Rotary youth programs to participants. As a result, we sponsored 3 students on the RYPEN (Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment) development program for 14-17 olds.
Jeff Anderson took over as swim coordinator in 2018, continuing the swim’s rise as a key Rotary and community event. As a consequence of Jeff’s efforts, the lap count climbed to a stellar 2757, boosted by the Quairading community holding their own impromptu event. Significantly, the lap count was boosted by Sheldon Kuhne – Munroe, who advanced the individual lap record to 156.
Record Numbers of Students Nominated for Rotary Youth Development Programs
In 2018, we sponsored 9 participants for RYPEN, with the generous support of many sponsors. We acknowledge the support of the Shire of Bruce Rock, Ascot Rotary, Rotary Club of Busselton Geographe Bay, Margaret River Rotary and Rotary Club of Southern Districts.
In 2019, we renamed the Swim as the Rotary Wheatbelt Swim for Reading and held it on Saturday 9 March. The rise of the Swim continued, with the lap count hitting an incredible 3004. Alicia Hills grabbed the individual record with 216 laps, with Amber Kuhne – Munroe hot on her heels on 214.
Rotary Wheatbelt Swim for Reading 2020
Our 2020 Swim will be on 22 February 2020 and we’re planning our best ever as a showcase event. Above all, the Swim will continue to be a catalyst for inspiring more reading and youth development in participating Wheatbelt schools and communities.
Rotary E-Club of Western Australia