There was no shrinkage in generosity for Lifeline’s annual nude charity swim this year, despite the public not being able to participate because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Lifeline Canberra’s Winter Solstice Nude Charity Swim over the weekend has raised more than $16,500 so far thanks to Peter Lindeman and Geoff Arney. They braved the balmy seven degrees in Lake Burley Griffin and bared all for the cause after this year’s event was reduced to just two swimmers due to social distancing rules.
A record 170 people dropped their daks last year in sub-zero temperatures for the charity swim, and Chairperson of the Winter Solstice Nude Charity Swim Ben Johnston was expecting more than double the turnout this year.
“We were expecting between 350 and 400 this year, so while it was frustrating we could not do that, it was great we were able to do something to support Lifeline’s great work,” he said.
Ian Lindeman founded the swim in 2017 to support charities in the fight against cancer and mental illness.
That was a year before his son Evan ‘Ev’ Lindeman died in February 2018, aged 34, when he took his own life.
However, Ian did not live to see this year’s swim. He died from liver cancer at the end of last year.
“Tragically Ian passed away late last year, so we really wanted to continue his excellent work despite the tough coronavirus conditions,” Mr Johnston said.
Mr Johnston, the proprietor of the Old Canberra Inn where Ian loved to socialise, said this year’s event was more significant than ever.
“Ian rang me a week before his death and the event was on his mind.
“He said, ‘Ben, I’ll probably be dead next week’, so we just had to find a model that was going to work in the current climate.
“The whole idea of the swim is that you refresh your soul and get a sense of renewal from washing away the negativity energy as part of the new solar year.
“But obviously the biggest outcome that Ian wanted for the swim was to raise awareness of mental health, along with all of the stress and heightened anxiety that the community has been feeling.”
Ian’s brother Peter welcomed the challenge this year, receiving a bagpipe anthem before disrobing and getting into the lake for an early morning swim.
“You can’t hang around in the water too long,” he laughed.
“The warmer temperature did mean my feet didn’t stay numb all day this year, which was a good result!”
The swim came at a time when mental health services are experiencing unprecedented demand as people find themselves isolated and more susceptible to deteriorating health during the pandemic.
Mr Johnston said Lifeline Canberra is still experiencing high demand and is encouraging people to donate through the Winter Solstice Charity Swim website.
“There has never been a more important time to raise funds for mental health and we would encourage people to continue to keep donating, particularly in the lead up to the end of the financial year as donations are fully tax-deductible.”
COVID-19 permitting, the event will be back next year, he said, so “put 21 June 2021 in your calendar!”
If you or anyone you know requires mental health support, call Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support service on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call triple zero (000).