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PaceMakers raise $5,000 for Swimming Saves Lives Foundation

New England Masters workout group use the 1-Hour ePostal as a fundraiser

Holly Neumann | March 21, 2017

The Simon’s Rock PaceMakers put a new twist on a longstanding USMS event this winter when the workout group in Great Barrington, Mass., put a fundraising push behind the venerable USMS 1-Hour ePostal National Championship.

Coach Bill Meier gave his swimmers a donation sheet to complement their training plans for the event, and the group quickly raised more than $5,000 for the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation.

Swimmers asked their friends and family for support, and one, Todd Norian, turned to his large social-media following.

Norian, 57, is an internationally-known yoga instructor. He’s been a PaceMakers member for five years, and this was his fourth time doing the 1-Hour ePostal. He says that adding the SSLF fundraising component to the swim gave the event a higher purpose for him.

“I felt like I was swimming for all the other people. It wasn’t for me. I was swimming for a really good cause.”

The Swimming Saves Lives Foundation provides funding and education to swim-lesson programs and providers that teach adult students. More than a third of adults in the United States cannot swim the length of a pool, putting them at risk of becoming one of the 10 people who drown every day in the U.S. SSLF, as part of USMS’s adult learn-to-swim initiative, aims to improve that statistic by making more adults safer around water.

Last year, nearly 1,000 adults took swim lessons in SSLF-supported programs. In 2017, the foundation backs 38 swim-lessons providers.

Norian says he was busy leading up to the 1-hour swim, and decided to fundraise at the last minute. On the day before the event, he sent an email to the 5,000 people on his yoga list.

“The message was not only to do something good for the adults who were learning to swim, but also because of the higher potential for the parents to get their kids into swimming,” Norian said. “If the parents swim, that increases the chance that the kids will get swim lessons.”

Before he pushed off on his first lap, Norian had more than $800 in pledges. Over the next two weeks, his donations had doubled.

Norian had a goal to swim 3,500 yards in the hour, and many of his supporters pledged a bonus if he hit that mark. When he just missed it—he logged 3,475 yards—he was pleased to find that many of them gave him the incentive cash, anyway.

He also appreciated the camaraderie from his teammates that is a hallmark of the 1-hour ePostal National Championship. “The hour swim was a partner experience,” he says. “One of my buddies logged it, and then we switched. It was such a supportive event. Team members were rooting for each other. That’s what I love about Masters Swimming—personal competition with support. We compete against each other in the healthiest way.”

More than 20 PaceMakers took part in the event and SSLF fundraising. Coach Meier was thrilled with the turnout.

“I think we’re tapping into something really important,” he said. “The generosity was off the charts.”

Meier also thinks the “give-back” aspect of this team is helping it to grow. “The participation in my practices is noticeably more, from less than 20 to averaging more than 23. We’re on a shared mission to help others, and having a deeper impact overall.”

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About the Author—Holly Neumann

Holly Neumann is the adult learn-to-swim and Swimming Saves Lives Foundation program manager for U.S. Masters Swimming.

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