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Swim for Hope 2023 event and post review

The SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023 charity event where swimmers clock in the laps for charity causes. The event was introduced by SAFRA Tampines back in 2011, and this year marks its 13th edition. The swimming event continues to provide a unique opportunity for members of the public, as well as Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen), friends and their families, to come together to swim for charity. The event seamlessly combines the noble intentions of contributing to charitable causes while promoting fitness and fostering a sense of togetherness through swimming.

At the pool for this year's installation of SAFRA Swim for Hope
At the pool for this year’s installation of SAFRA Swim for Hope!

Furthermore, one of the core elements that make SAFRA Swim for Hope stand out is its commitment to raising both funds and awareness for various causes that serve the less privileged. Every year, the event lends its support to a diverse array of charities. These charitable endeavors have a direct and significant impact on the community, benefiting more than 15 organizations, including the Autism Resource Centre, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, Down Syndrome Association, and many more.

Swimming categories and how it works

The event offers participants a variety of swimming categories that cater to different skill levels and goals. There are three primary categories to choose from, each with its own distinct challenges and registration fees:

  1. Open Individual Swims: You can opt for a 1km swim at a registration fee of $22. The next distance up is 15km for $38 (equivalent to 300 laps), or take on the flagship 55km swim, consisting of an impressive 1100 laps, for $55/pax registration fee. The 15km swim seems to be a popular choice for leisure swimmers, offering a good balance of challenge and feasibility.
  2. Families and Team Category: Families can bond over the 1km swim, priced at $35, or the 5km swim for $50. The team category presents a unique challenge, with 5-person teams attempting a massive 250km swim at a registration fee of $45 per person.

The flexibility of the event allows for a choice between physical and hybrid swims. The hybrid swim option is particularly attractive. It allows participants to swim at their preferred pools without having to contend for lanes on SAFRA event days. For hybrid-event swimmers, registering at least one physical event is mandatory, and the rest of the distances can be completed at the swimmers’ convenience. The distance tracking is primarily done on an honor system, with participants recording and entering their swim distances online via a web portal.

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Swim for Hope 2023 website
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Participant portal
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Adding a swim

The registration process is streamlined through a dedicated website portal. Here, participants can not only log their swim activities but also book physical swim slots. The physical swim sessions are scheduled on weekends throughout the month of October 2023. Also, notably, only three SAFRA branches, namely Choa Chu Kang, Toa Payoh, and Tampines, host the physical swim sessions.

Welcome to SAFRA Choa Chu Kang for the event physical on-site swim!
Welcome to SAFRA Choa Chu Kang for the first week of the event physical on-site swim!

Conduct of physical swim

During the physical swim, the event’s organization is commendable. Friendly staff members assist participants in the registration process. The counters are located at the ground lobby area of the clubhouse rather than at the poolside area.

Moreover, upon registration, swimmers receive a colored swimming band that corresponds to your swim time slot. This allows for efficient management of the pool sessions. If a participant wishes to swim beyond their designated time slot and there are available swim lanes, they can request an additional colored band for the following time slot.

Choa Chu Kang SAFRA is pretty modern clubhouse.
Choa Chu Kang SAFRA is pretty modern clubhouse.

A free and easy swim to clock in the laps

Furthermore, contrary to the admin instructions, participants are not required to arrive en masse before their swim slot for a mass safety briefing. I noticed swimmers tend to trickle in-and-out the pool area throughout the day. A brief orientation of the event and safety brief is provided by duty staff at the pool for every participant before starting their swim. Also, as safety is a priority, three medics on standby to attend to any unforeseen incidents or evacuation.

The covered pool at Choa Chu Kang has a clear edge wall and sheltered from the elements.
The covered pool at Choa Chu Kang has a clear edge wall and sheltered from the elements.

Also, as a welcome gesture, the event also provides swimmers with free refreshments, including 100-Plus drinks and fresh bananas. While these are welcome, not all swimmers may make full use of this offering.

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Pool event
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Bananas and 100-plus
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Entitlement collection table

An appreciable feature at the event is the provision of free baggage deposit. Staff members on duty tag and store swimmers’ bags in lockers. This eliminates the need for participants to leave their belongings in visible spots by the pool. This is especially for those who prefer not to carry valuables during their swims.

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Ground floor lobby
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Tracking distances
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Completed swims

Moreover, it is worth noting that the event requires at least 1km of physical on-site swim for hybird swim to qualify as a finisher. Also, you can swim the remainder of your required distance before or after your physical swim, as long it is all submitted by end-Oct. This is submitted via the Swim for hope participant web portal you used for your initial registration.

Swimmer goody bag entitlements

Swimmer goody bag entitlements
Swimmer goody bag entitlements, with a mix of body care and sport recovery products.
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Entitlements bag
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Event shirt
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Rear of medal

This year’s goodie bag contents is a pretty sizable one. These bags often contain a mix of sponsors’ products, vouchers, and other surprises. This year, the goodie bags appear to emphasize health-related body care products. Also, it is noteworthy that the main pack is sponsored by the lifestyle and beauty store Venus. This is as hinted on the blue tote bag included in the pack.

15km Finisher medal
15km Finisher medal, with unique lanyard colour for each category.

Items inside the goodie bag also includes:

  • 10% discount voucher for Wanjeondae bak Korean street food
  • $5 off Mamabox snacks and beverages
  • 20% discount for Reebok smart sport watches
  • 15% discount voucher for Frozt popsicles
  • $5 discount voucher for babyblomst flowers

Beauty and sport-related products includes

  • Starbalm heat patch, gel sachets and sports inhaler
  • Hyalurous hair filler
  • Families for life foldable fan
  • Compre sport drawstring bag
  • 2 zappy wet wipes
  • Dermakin Moisturiser SPF protection cream
  • Monsoon shampoo and Botanix body lotion (soap)

That wraps up the goodie bag and swimmer entitlements. You can support me by donating to my Swim for Hope 2023 swimming cause! To date I had completed over 400 laps, or about 21km swim distance covered!

Wrapping up with Areas for improvement

Additionally, a minor inconvenience arises when it comes to collecting swimmers’ goodie bags. I was not able to collect my goodie bag immediately despite completing both my physical swim and my 15km total swim distance at the Choa Chu Kang pool, as I swam at a different SAFRA branch from my indicated collection point.

Not that it was a deliberate attempt to choose different clubhouse on purpose, but you are unable to change your goodie bag collection clubhouse after registration. This is owning to fixed logistical arrangements SAFRA has to where your goodie bags and swim entitlements are delivered to at point of registration.

However, as physical swim booking slots are only made known after registration, it is difficult for participants to gauge which clubhouse to collect from at point of registration. Also, participants won’t know which clubhouse be the first to conduct the physical swim.

A potential improvement could be to align the entitlement pickup point with the SAFRA clubhouse where the participant’s physical swim is held, or allow one-time updating of the collection point in profile. It saves participants from the need to make a separate trip to another SAFRA clubhouse location just to collect the goodie bag.

Choa Chu Kang SAFRA Lobby event area where the event registration and entitlement bag collection are located
Choa Chu Kang SAFRA Lobby event area where the event registration and entitlement bag collection are located.

In conclusion, the SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023 charity event is an outstanding initiative that successfully combines fitness, charity, and community spirit. It offers a range of swimming categories to suit different levels of ability and personal goals. The flexibility of hybrid swims and the convenience of online distance tracking make it accessible to a broad spectrum of participants.

While there are minor areas for improvement, such as streamlining the entitlement pickup process, the event is well-organized and offers a commendable experience for swimmers and their families. Ultimately, SAFRA Swim for Hope 2023 stands as a shining example of how a charity event can bring people together for a common cause, creating a positive impact on both participants and the beneficiaries of the event.

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