Rotorua once again played its part in the fight against polio after more than 2000 lengths of the Aquatic Centre outdoor pool were swum on Saturday.

The Rotary Global Swimarathon is a worldwide event to raise funds to eradicate polio, supporting immunisation programmes all over the world.

This year the event was run by members of Rotary Sunrise Rotorua, with club president Dr Anne Walsh saying even though they did not reach their goal of 5000 lengths on the day, the event was a huge success.

Rotorua's Ngaire Jackson was one of the last diagnosed polio survivors in New Zealand. She got it just three months before the vaccine came out in 1955, when she was just 5.


The effects of the disease have followed her all her life.

Dr Walsh said Mrs Jackson did her part by swimming 22 lengths of the pool, with every dollar raised doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"It was a really good day. Overall there were 2186 lengths swum. Seven people from the Westside Christchurch swim team did 120 each, which was amazing," Dr Walsh said. "Two of them are New Zealand open water swim champs as well and are heading to the Rio Olympics.

"Hielke Oppers, one of our Rotary members, raised $900 by himself. The vaccine cost 12c, so just by himself they can vaccinate 22,500 kids."

About 37 swimmers took part.

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