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 $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!

For the 2018 Freedom Swim, we again set 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), and we decided to shoot for $60,000. How did they do? A total of $57,321 was raised by 124 swimmers, with their amazing families and sponsors. This provides funding for more than eight IJM rescue operations, which have potential to free and restore hundreds of people. 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! Way to go, Freedom Swimmers!! We're so proud of all your hard work!

Big high fives for our top two fundraising teams, Hope Hurricane (with $7,282 raised) and Narwhals of Justice (with $6,883 raised). An outstanding effort on behalf of victims of slavery!