In the fall of 2015, three girls from the Blust family in Middleton, WI became motivated to join IJM 's fight against modern-day slavery after studying William Wilberforce’s 18th century abolition movement. Horrified to learn that the number of slaves held globally today far exceeds that of the Atlantic slave trade, the girls came up with the idea to hold a swim-a-thon (a fun alternative to a run) to get other local families involved, too.

The first Freedom Swim took place on April 2, 2016 at the Middleton High School pool. 62 participating swimmers, ages 6-18, raised an incredible $17,570 (way past the goal of $6300) to fund almost three IJM rescue operations! A year later, on April 8, 2017, 86 youth swam in the second Freedom Swim, raising an amazing $38,921, the equivalent of six IJM rescue operations! Many of the swimmers are not part of a swim team, and work very hard to accomplish — and surpass — their lap goals and fundraising goals. Plus, they have a great time! We’re so proud of our Freedom Swimmers!

For the 2018 Freedom Swim, we are again setting the goal high. The number of slaves in the world today is estimated at over 40 million (according to the 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery). Could we reach $60,000 to help bring freedom to these oppressed people? $60,000 can provide funding for more than nine IJM rescue operations, freeing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people.