A SWIMMING club has launched a fundraising campaign in a bid to secure its future – and will be match-funded by Sport England if it reaches £10,000 target.

Richmond Dales Amateur Swimming Club, based at Richmond Swimming Pool, has launched its '10k for 10k' appeal this week.

Sarah Johnson, fundraising secretary for the club, said: "At the point of the first lockdown our swimming squads were just preparing for our April Fools gala, which raises vital funds every year for the club, and ensures that swim fees are kept at an accessible level.

"We also subsequently had to cancel a further two main fundraising swimming competitions, and in total have lost more than £20,000 in revenue this year due to the cancellation of these events.

"The first lockdown followed a successful start to the season with 25 swimmers representing the club at the Northumberland and Durham County Championships, picking up 16 medals, and reaching 44 finals with 53 per cent of swims recorded as long course personal bests.

"During lockdown the club and its coaches worked hard to keep members engaged. Virtual land training sessions, peer to peer mentoring, nutritional tips and inspirational talks from competitive athletes were the order of the day.

"We were fortunate to receive a range of inspirational talks and question and answer sessions, with Olympian swimmers Hannah Miley, Chris Cook, Ross Davenport, James Guy, European champion springboard diver Grace Reid and Paralympic finalist Stephen Clegg.

He added: "Our reserves can only stretch so far and unless we take action now, we anticipate that we could be at breaking point early next year.

"The money will be used to support ongoing operational costs, including increased pool costs and ensuring the retention of our talented coaches. Social distancing measures mean that we now need more pool space and more pool time to accommodate the number of swimmers we have and that comes at a huge cost. The leisure centres we use have also been impacted by Covid-19 and are subsequently increasing their fees to support their own sustainability.

"Even the smallest of donations is very much welcomed. We need to raise £10,000 and if successful Sport England will match with £10,000. The more money we raise, the more secure our future."

Parent Richard Palmer Jones said: "The positive impact that Richmond Dales Swimming Club makes on the local community is indelible. It offers opportunity for swimmers of all ages and abilities to enjoy their love of the sport and is driven by a large number of volunteers who give up their time freely to ensure that it is a club welcome to all.

"The impact of Covid-19 has put the future of this wonderful club in jeopardy and the ‘10k for 10k’ fundraiser is the club's only chance to secure its future and continue to deliver provision for all.

"I urge local businesses and the community as a whole to help this club survive the pandemic – we have the ability to positively shape people’s lives through swimming and every penny pledged puts us one step closer to our goal."

To donate and find out more, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/richmond-dales-swim-club-covid-appeal-10k-for-10k.

The club can also offer a block of six one-hour booster swim sessions, ideal for swimmers aged seven and above wanting to improve. Email admin@rdasc.org.uk.