ALMOST 20 swimmers are getting ready to dive into a cultural exchange celebrating an important milestone.

The link between Haddington and District Swimming Club and Serres Castet, in the south west of France, is toasting 40 years.

Swimmers from East Lothian and France have visited each other on a regular basis since the link was formed in 1982.

However, the exchange has been on hold since 2019, when about 30 swimmers travelled from France.

Now, with Covid-19 restrictions eased, swimmers and representatives of the club are heading in the opposite direction.

East Lothian Courier: Swimmers from Haddington are getting ready to head to FranceSwimmers from Haddington are getting ready to head to France

Aileen Boyle, chairperson of Haddington and District Swimming Club, is among those heading to France next month.

She said: “It is a sporting exchange as well as a cultural one.

“They train and compete against and with each other but they stay with host families for the 10 days to learn more about the region.

“The adults that go are really there to make sure it runs smoothly.

“They liaise with the swimming club adults there and chaperone the people that go.”

Nineteen swimmers, all over the age of 12, will make the trip, alongside head coach Demi Borthwick, coach Hannah Green and a handful of volunteers.

The swimming club, which celebrates its 50th birthday in 2025, acts as a pathway for athletes to make their way to East Lothian Swim Team (ELST) and represent the district.

Aileen said: “Our whole ethos at Haddington and District Swimming Club is that we think anybody can be a competitive swimmer.

“We actively encourage our athletes to thrive in an environment of enjoyment and enthusiasm, and help them to develop not just their swimming technique but also integrity, fairness and just generally to become well rounded individuals.”

East Lothian Courier: Aubigny Sports Centre, in Haddington. Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.Aubigny Sports Centre, in Haddington. Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Ahead of the trip, which takes place from July 12 to 21, the swimming club has been raising funds.

Aileen added: “These trips can be costly to the swimmers and so fundraising is an ongoing activity.

“To help subsidise the cost to the swimmers, the club recently had a silent auction, raising over £1,000 towards the trip.

“We have also received sponsorship from Pure Malt and EDF.

“We are very grateful that both companies are so dedicated to supporting their community, and their contributions are the equivalent of seven flights.

“We are already looking to fundraise when we host the French exchange next year and so any local businesses who would like to get involved should reach out to the chair.”