• International swim fundraiser for research into motor neurone disease comes to the capital for the first time 
  • Professor Stephen Hawking to support London Charity Swim 2017 taking place at Royal Victoria Dock in September 

An international sponsored swimming event that has raised millions of pounds towards research and awareness in aid of motor neurone disease (MND) is coming to London for the first time next month, with the support of Professor Stephen Hawking.

City Swim is an annual fundraiser that started in Amsterdam in 2012, after a group of friends decided to find a way to raise money for a colleague suffering from MND.  It soon took off, with thousands of like-minded locals jumping into Amsterdam’s canals to take part in the inaugural event – including Princess, now Queen, Maxima of the Netherlands – and has now become an annual crowd puller in the city.

Organisers took the event to New York two years ago, with swimmers taking part in the Hudson River – and on Friday September 22, City Swim is coming to East London’s Royal Victoria Dock.

To date, the City Swim events have raised over £7.5m in aid of research and support for those living with MND, and all money raised in donations from next month’s event will go to Project MinE, the ground breaking international genetic research programme for MND.

The event in London on September 22 is supported by The Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Stephen Hawking Foundation

Professor Hawking said: “I am delighted to see this great swim come to London. Please jump in and swim for me and all of us with MND, you can really make a difference. With your help we can get closer to finding a cure.”

City Swim is open to all, from leading competition swimmers to anyone who wants to support a great cause.  London organisers are aiming for 500 swimmers, who will take part in a 500m race, with the fastest then competing against each other in a 200m sprint.

Huibert Vigeveno, Chair, London City Swim, said: “The original idea came as an inspiration six years ago from a group of friends who swam in the Hellespont race in Turkey. While there, they decided that on their return to Amsterdam they would create an event to raise money and awareness for MND and support their friend Weert Jan Weerts who had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The City Swim was born in 2012.

“Since then, it has grown from strength to strength – when my wife Annick and I moved back to London, we reconnected with our friends and we too wanted to create a City Swim as London is such a vibrant and dynamic world city.

“Sadly Weert Jan Weerts is no longer with us – but we can remember him, and support both the Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Stephen Hawking Foundation, by as many people as possible coming to swim on September 22.

“And don’t think that it’s like swimming in the Thames: the water in the Royal Victoria Dock is tested every two weeks against EU Bathing regulations to ensure the purity is perfect for open water swimming.  The water is slightly salty but really clean and pleasant to swim in.”

There are team prizes for groups of four with fastest combined times in the first round, and individual prizes for those in the 200m super sprint finals.

Huibert Vigeveno, Chair, London City Swim, added: “City Swim isn’t all about who’s the fastest – there’s an equal focus on people taking part for fun, and we are happy that those living with MND and wheelchair users supported by floatation devices may take part. Everybody who takes part gets a medal.”

City Swim London 2017 takes place at Royal Victoria Dock, East London, at 4pm on Friday 22 September.

For more information and to register to take part, visit: