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2015 Swimmers tell us their stories

If they are beginners they swim as many lengths as they can. If they are juniors they swim for a half hour and see how many lengths they can do. If they are intermediates or seniors they will swim for a full hour. Every year the entire student body of the International School jumps in the pool and they swim.


And they are off! Fitness and heart will carry them through the next hour

They will train very consistently before the event for weeks – some for months. They will do this as their yearly contribution to their hurt brothers and sisters who come from all over the world to find help at The Institutes.

Some of their brothers and sisters are well known to them. Some they have never met. But they will swim for them knowing that every length they complete will mean another contribution to the work of The Institutes.

Hanah Swimming

Hanah uses the backstroke to relax but keeps her pace steady

For three decades, the Evan Thomas Institute’s students have been churning through length after length to help brain-injured children. They have welcomed swimmers from the Alumni Association and swimmers from the Intensive Treatment Program. Sometimes there are little Swimathoners in other cities and other countries who are swimming with them. These young swimmers have trained in their hometowns to be a part of this yearly event.

This event is physically, intellectually, socially, and even physiologically a big challenge but when all is said and done the goal is to raise funds to support The Institutes programs for brain-injured children.

swimathon, the power of giving

Each swimmer has a lap counter. Here staff member, Susan Aisen, Director of The Institutes for Intellectual Excellence keeps track for her swimmer in the 2015 swimathon

After months of training and fundraising, the swimmers discover the joy of working as a team. They realize their inner strength and resolve, but above all they learn the power of giving.

30th Annual Evan Thomas Swimathon

19 March 2016

Upper Dublin High School
Upper Dublin, PA

swimathon, the power of giving


Join us and contribute!


Comments from Past Swimathoners


“My preparation for the Swimathon was doing a lot of sprints, kicking and running. My goal was 74 lengths but I accomplished 84 lengths in one hour. I beat my goal by 15 lengths. Before the event I felt ready and afterwards I felt I could have swum about 30 more lengths at the same pace. I couldn’t have done it without my mother’s coaching and cheering, and my family and friends.”

Priscilla, 11 years

“For preparation I’d say “Steady as a rock”. Always swimming at the same pace gives you enough energy to blast like a rocket at the end. It was exciting, with lots of people cheering me on, to do my best and make my goal. It gave me enough energy to keep going. I was very happy that I completed 117 lengths.”

Thomsen, 12 years

“My brother, Spencer, told me that to reach my goal I should swim one minute per lap (50 yards) and therefore I would reach 120 lengths. My goal was 110 and I reached 118. I was so happy about it at the end. In the last five minutes I was very excited because I knew I had beat my goal. I could not have done it without my great coach, Spencer, and watching the younger students swim first got me excited and ready to swim. They did great.”

Morgan, 11 years

Five Swimming Tips For Your Baby From The Author


HTT_Baby to Swim


  1. Start as Young as Possible.

It is much, much easier to teach a new born to swim than a one-year-old. It is much easier to teach a one-year-old to swim than a two-year-old. It is easier to teach a two-year-old than a three-year-old to swim. The younger the child is the better. Do not wait to start.

  1. Opportunity is key.

Opportunity is everything when it comes to success in swimming. In places like southern California and Florida one can swim 365 days a year. Babies who live there will swim easily and quickly because they can swim daily. For babies in places like Philadelphia, London and Tokyo there is much less opportunity. Once you decide to teach your baby to swim decide to swim as many days a week as possible. At least four would be great. But one is better than none.

  1. Temperature is Important.

How many of us remember swimming in freezing water and really disliking it? We always put babies in water that is totally comfortable. Make sure you are comfortable in the water first. If there is no shock for you, it should be good for your baby. This way baby immediately enjoys being in the water. We want them to associate the water with joy, with pleasure and with enthusiasm.

  1. Set an Example.

A baby that watches his older sister playing in the water will immediately be hooked. A two-year-old seeing her older brother standing on his hands in the water will want to join him. Even watching old dad do laps will do the trick. If the whole family loves to swim the baby will love it too.

  1. Read How to Teach Your Baby To Swim.

The book covers swimming from birth to six. It starts with swimming with the baby in the bath. It finishes with aerobic swimming for children who are accomplished in freestyle swimming. Get the waterproof lessons that cover from birth to six. They are designed to use in the water when you are teaching your baby. Have a great time!

 Douglas Doman

How To Train for a Swimathon. Parents can design their own swimathon for their child, setting goals that fit that family and child.


The Evan Thomas Institute Swimathon has two timed periods.

30-Minute Swim

For young swimmers, they must be able to swim independently one length of a 25-yard pool

They may swim on their back (with flutter kick and sculling) or using a front crawl with rhythmic breathing. A parent may swim in the lane with the child, but not assist in swimming.

60-Minute Swim

A swimmer must first succeed in the 30-Minute Swim before entering the 60-Minute Swim.

The swimmers must use front crawl for the entire swim.

Training Schedule

3 months prior:

Swim at least one time a week.

Develop strength and endurance by doing a varied workout of pulls, kicks, sprints, and nonstop swim periods of about 20-30 minutes. The focus at this point is on developing a high-quality front crawl and good open turns and/or flip turns.

2 months prior:

Swim 1-2 times a week.

Continue to spend time on stroke quality and extend the nonstop swim periods. Try for two nonstop swims during each session.

1 month prior:

Swim 2 times a week, minimum.

Add 10 minutes to the nonstop swim each week.

Eventually the child is swimming 40, 50, then 60 minutes nonstop.

A child should be well-prepared for this physical challenge. The swimmer should train for the full time of the swimathon at least once or twice before the actual event.