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, they were 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 the more common 5K 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 raised $17,570 (way past the goal of $6300) to fund almost three IJM rescue operations! Freedom Swim 2017 involved 86 swimmers and raised $38,921, then Freedom Swim 2018 grew to 124 swimmers and $57,321 raised! And on April 6, 2019, 184 swimmers joined Freedom Swim 2019, raising $73,275 with their amazing families and sponsors! When a matching donation of $35,000 by an anonymous donor was added in, this one event funded more than 17 IJM rescue operations!
Many of our 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, no matter how many laps they log! We love the atmosphere of encouragement, energy, and concern for others that fills the pool on event day — It is just awesome.Way to go, Freedom Swimmers!! We're so proud of all your hard work!
We now have an amazing team of parents and friends who work together to put this event on annually because they believe in empowering our youth to make a difference in the world. We're also hoping to spin off Freedom Swim events into other communities, so please contact us if you're interested in starting one! For the 2020 Freedom Swim, we can't wait to see what happens!