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Blake Aldrige2More than a thousand people have signed up to take the plunge at Medway’s mass swimming event The Big Splash with Olympian Blake Aldridge even making an appearance. Aldridge – who competed for Team Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – has won three world medals in diving and will now be joining the Big Splash as a special guest.

The Medway Big Splash takes place on Saturday, 18 and Sunday, 19 January at Medway Park in Gillingham and Strood Sports Centre. Watersports, aquatics and water-based fun will make up the weekend-long event, all culminating in a mass community swim challenge. Taking a quick break from coaching with Tom Daley on ITV show Splash, Aldridge will be at Medway Park on Sunday from noon to 2pm.

He will be meeting members of Black Lion Swimming Club and Medway Sporting Academy to share his experiences of diving from the age of five. He will also perform some of his award-winning dives. Visitors can also see Medway’s own GB synchronised swimmer, Amy Campbell, in action at Medway Park on Saturday. She will be showcasing her talents at 3pm during a display with synchronised swimming team the Medway Mermaids.

The Big Splash will be an action-packed weekend at both leisure centres. On Saturday, both pools will host free taster sessions in a wide range of activities including water polo, diving and swimming lessons. These run from 10am to 5pm at Medway Park and 10am to 3pm at Strood, with different sessions held every hour. In the evening both pools have free family pool parties, complete with a giant inflatables, games, music and lighting.

The main event on Sunday, 19 January is the Big Swim Challenge, when swimmers will take to the water and swim anything from a length to a mile, with the aim of seeing how far Medway can swim in one day. Every participant taking part will receive a free souvenir t-shirt and certificate. On the same day, a family sports day will be running from 11am to 3pm at both sports centres with no pre-booking required.

The weekend will also start the countdown to Medway’s other new mass participation event – the Medway Big Ride. Static bikes on turbo trainers will be set up in the reception at Medway Park for the launch of a four-month touring roadshow, setting Medway the challenge of riding to Rio, the next host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Howard Doe, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “It is very exciting to have an Olympian as well as a local sporting star coming to The Big Splash. “The event offers families in Medway a fantastic opportunity to swim and have fun for free as well as a chance to see these experts in action. “I’d encourage people to come along and take part in activities if they can.”

*Tickets are still available for the 5.30pm to 7pm party at Strood on Saturday and for a 3.30pm to 5pm party on Sunday at Medway Park.
For full timetables, booking and registration information for all elements of the Big Splash weekend visit www.medway.gov.uk/bigsplash

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