Panathlon welcomed some special visitors to our recent primary swimming gala at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre as 20 high-flyers from our sponsors Speedo fulfilled volunteering roles. 

The cohort, who helped officiate the competition and guide our swimmers with disabilities and special needs, had come from as far afield as New Zealand, America and Hong Kong for a week of workshops in London that formed part of Speedo’s nine-month global leadership programme. 

Pentland Brands, who own Speedo amongst many other sportwear companies, fund Panathlon’s swimming activity and enable over 2,000 children with special needs and disabilities (SEND) every year to build their skills and confidence in the water. 

“It’s great seeing the impact that we’re making,” said Pentland’s Investment Manager Simon Lum. “The energy and smiles from the children and the event’s competitive nature are exactly what Speedo stands for. 

“It’s so important to give all kids, whatever their ability or capabilities, the opportunity to get into the pool. It’s really good to see those values in practice close-up and it’s great to end the week on a high.” 

Pentland’s 100-1-0 positive business strategy includes an ambition to “improve the lives of one million people in our communities” by their centenary year in 2032. Partnering with Panathlon to fund our ever-expanding swimming programmes – targeting children who are so often denied such opportunities – will help them reach that target. 

Samuel Guest, CR & Charity Partner at Pentland Brands, said: “We’ve brought 20 of the most talented people in the business here today not just to showcase this initiative but for them to get in the water with the children and enjoy the positive experience with them. 

“The goal is help them to understand what an amazing and impactful partnership we’ve formed with Panathlon and how our investment is promoting inclusion and more active communities.” 

Jenny Briggs, Pentland’s Senior People Experience Partner, said: “Our guys are at the end of a really intense leadership programme, so for them to come here and be inspired by these children is such a great way to cap off the whole experience. 

“It’s amazing to be a part of these communities and to have such an influence on staging events like this really is so rewarding.” 

People Experience Partner Claire Parry added: “To help inspire these children and cheer them on from the water’s edge has been fabulous. It’s a small amount of time for us but it makes a big difference to their lives.” 

Thursday’s Panathlon swimming gala, for schools in London and Essex who had excelled at previous competitions, was won by Longshaw Primary Academy from Chingford. 

Longshaw pupil Millie, 11, said: “The day has been very challenging because we were competing against other schools. I was a little bit nervous this morning but I overcame my nerves – and I loved it!” 

Teacher Andy Felton from Darlinghurst Academy in Leigh-on-Sea commented: “Our school is in a seaside town so it’s really important that our children can swim. The benefits of joining the Panathlon family have been numerous. Ultimately, swimming is not just fun, it can save your life!” 

Read more about Panathlon’s partnership with Pentland Brands here