In 2004, Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre earned national recognition when it was declared the UK’s best pool in the annual Marie Curie Swimathon.
More than a decade later, the north Suffolk centre believes its team is on track not only to emulate this historic achievement in the 2015 challenge, but even exceed it, after the latest rankings put it potentially as high as third out of 604 participating pools - its highest placement for 11 years.
Len Phoenix, Stradbroke swimming coach and co-team leader alongside duty manager Maria Smith, said it was “absolutely phenomenal” for a small village to keep the company of renowned city pools, including the London Aquatics Centre at The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, at the very top of the Swimathon league tables.
Mr Phoenix, who will be completing the five-kilometre swim for the 26th consecutive year, told the Diss Express: “We’re still a rural community in the middle of nowhere. It’s amazing when you put it in that context.
“We did quite well last year, but we are doing much better this year. The energy and enthusiasm behind this is incredible and it gives everybody an enormous boost.
“Maria has worked tirelessly and she’s been a brilliant organiser. For our money, we feel we have the best pool in the area and I couldn’t think of a better place to coach at.”
Stradbroke currently has 150 swimmers of all ages lined up to take part in various distance challenges and swim events, including a two-year-old boy still learning to swim unaided, and a man disabled from the chest down who has committed to finishing the 2.5 kilometre challenge.
The centre has also received public support from decorated Olympic swimming gold medallist Duncan Goodhew, a long-time backer of the Swimathon, for their efforts.
Since launching around 27 years ago, the initiative has seen over half a million swimmers participate, collectively raising more than £40 million for numerous charities.
The 2015 Swimathon takes place from Friday, April 17 to Sunday, April 19. For more information or to find out about taking part, please contact 0845 36 700 36 or visit www.swimathon.org