Swim Ireland has partnered with ‘Sanctuary Runners’ to create an innovative venture which will give refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to experience open sea swimming.
The launch of ‘Sanctuary Swimmers’ follows the completion of a pilot programme held in Cork in late 2022.
It saw 18 people from across 13 different countries taught to swim by Swim Ireland instructor Deirdre Sheehan.
Building on from the success of Sanctuary Runners, founded in Cork in 2018 to break down social barriers which exist between migrants and locals across Ireland.
The Sanctuary Swimmers initiative will now expand to include six locations in 2023. Groups will consist of around 18 people and be made up of locals, people who have moved to the area and Swim Ireland instructors.
A specifically designed programme will teach the participants how to swim and be at ease in the open sea.
Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane explained the importance of the Sanctuary Swimmers initiative.
She said: “The open water can, for some, invoke a feeling or fear, for others a sense of adventure. Those emotions are heightened for those who have never been in the sea before.
“Transcending these is the power of the Sanctuary Swimmers’ initiative and doing it all alongside people we care about and who support us is what makes it truly unique.”
Sanctuary Runners’ movement now has over 10,000 members across Ireland. Founder and CEO Graham Clifford said the collaboration with Swim Ireland offers another vital strand for community integration.
“We live on an island, open sea swimming is a liberating gift we can all enjoy,” he said.
“Even for those who may have developed negative views of the open sea because of their journey to Ireland, conquering those alongside locals is so important.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t look to expand this initiative to other countries. Often the best ideas are the most simple and when it comes to bringing people together swimming can achieve that in a healthy and positive way.”
For more information about ‘Sanctuary Swimmers’
head to the Swim Ireland website.