By Jim McCloskey
Is it an idea whose time has come?
On June 8, I received an email from my friend Dave Penton announcing that he was setting up Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts for something called International Swim Day.
“The first day of summer this year is Friday, June 21,” he began, noting that the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson has occurred annually on that day since 2010 and that International Surfing Day has, too, since 2004. As he sees it, a third aquatically oriented event would slide nicely into the mix.
“It’s a day to celebrate swimming,” he explained, whether it’s in a pond, a lake, a river, an ocean, a swimming pool “or even your bathtub.” And what better way to mark the first day of summer, he added, than to go for a swim?
This “celebration” is a big, bold idea and addresses a need Dave’s not alone in perceiving. For so many years, he and countless others (me included) have heard people complain about how nobody does enough to call attention to the joys of being in the water. “I see this as a way,” Dave wrote, “to promote both the fun of swimming and the health benefits.”
I’m right there with him and recall the many years I spent participating with the old National Spa & Pool Institute to develop consumer-targeted campaigns with ambitious promotional goals in mind. We did what we could with limited resources and outlets in the early 1990s, but I believe I’ve already answered the question I asked above: I see this as an idea whose time definitely has come, simply because the universe has changed in the 30-odd years since NSPI gave it a shot.
In fact, with the Internet and social media added to the list of promotional pathways, there’s no telling how fast an idea like International Swim Day might catch hold or how far it might reach. I mean, here we are, only 11 days into the concept, and I’m already impressed by what’s being accomplished. And Dave’s doing it right, enlisting a small army of people to help him move the good word into appropriate channels in appropriate ways.
In his initial note, for example, he reported that he’d already recruited Dave Peterson and Randy Beard to help him kick-start various activities, from setting up web sites to establishing social media outlets – and then basically challenged folks like me and a couple dozen others to get just as involved right away.
Worked in my case: Within minutes, I’d volunteered to run the banner ad for International Swim Day you see in this edition of the WaterShapes newsletter and set about using the blog you’re reading right now to express support and admiration for the boldness of the concept.
Dave is correct in seeing social media as the game-changer. He’s also correct in observing that the ability to swim is a core skill that cuts across all sorts of endeavors and activities, from surfing and diving to water skiing, wind surfing and all sorts of water-related recreational activities and outlets – so why not get people from those realms involved with International Swim Day as well?
In a subsequent email, Dave Penton mentioned an easy way to get involved in the first International Swim Day this coming Friday: “Have everyone you know share fun photos [of yourself and your friends having a good time in water] on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and make sure to put #swimday2019 in the description so we can see who’s celebrating.
“You can also go to swimday.org (which will take you to a Facebook page) and share away – then like the page and share it with everyone you know.”
Finally, he understands that complacency is the enemy here, which is why he so directly challenged me and about 25 other folks he mentioned directly in his email – people who came to mind when he started thinking about others who could help him propel this idea into the future. It’s a tall order to implement such a manifesto in a week’s time, but I believe Dave also knows that it’s never too late to plant a healthy seed on fertile ground.
“I would like each of you to do a little part to promote this,” he wrote, “and see if we can make it go viral.” And then there’s the big challenge: “Please think of influencers you know who can help us get the word out.” Now that I’ve roped all of you in, please do as Dave asks and “take a moment to think about your networks to see who might mention this.” Let’s all help get those networks fired up and spend this coming Friday imagining how great June 21 will be in 2020!
When I look to that date and beyond, I see International Swim Day as a good, strong step in the right direction: As I’ve mentioned numerous times through the years, swimmers are the ones who buy watershapes – not just pools but also ponds, waterfeatures, fountains and more. Kudos to Dave for identifying that fact – that need – and for getting things going. Let it be known that WaterShapes is here to help speed his idea on its way!
To show your tangible support for this concept, please visit the GoFundMe page Dave has set up (click here) to give International Swim Day the foundation it needs to succeed. For more information, visit www.swimday.org when you have the chance!