Swim & tonic – a social movement fuelled by passion & shared values
If I asked you if you fancied a gin & tonic your thoughts might turn to the clink of the ice as it falls into the glass, the fizz of the tonic as you twist the lid and the glug of the gin as you pour out the shot.
But what if I offered you a different tipple? The chance to try a different kind of tonic?
In light of the recent alcohol guidance you might just be up for something new.
A swim & tonic perhaps? Five months ago the first measure of swim & tonic was poured in Coventry.
We’re a movement of people who want to connect through swimming in the pool, lake or wild.
A Facebook page was set up, people joined & soon there was enough interest to start the first challenge: a collective channel swim – 21 miles.
At first it seemed impossible – there were no added extras – no cash in the pot, no ice and a slice, just people coming together to make it happen: uni students, sports centre staff, community folk, strong swimmers, people who hadn’t swum for years and anyone & everyone in between. The eldest was 82 and the youngest just 12 weeks.
On the run up to the challenge pledges came in thick & fast – Amanda 150m, Richard 500m, Michelle 5k.
In six days 235 people swam the channel over four times in pools across the city – 147 of those were disabled people – almost all of them from one particular special school. Their whole curriculum that week focused on the challenge & students swam a total of 26.4 miles. They loved it so much they then lobbied their headteacher to open the pool one morning a week before school.
And so the story continues and the movement grows. 15 to 20 people per month are swimming together in the pool or even in the lake and pupils continue to swim more lengths too.
Swim & tonic is listening to what people are telling them – ‘swimming can be boring – what we need is music!’
And so the idea of an Aqua Disco is being explored. No added extras, no ice & a slice just a community of people who take action on something that they are passionate about, intentionally drawing on shared values, and in doing so, unlocking a willingness to join in.
So today what tipple will you opt for? A G&T or an S&T?
Share this story with family/ friends/ colleagues – the more we talk about it the bigger the movement grows.
Let’s change the nature of the tonic! Author: Mel Smith Deputy Director at Grapevine Coventry & Warwickshire