Swim Wales and British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru have joined forces to encourage people of all ages to take part in the Swim 60 Challenge this February for Heart Month.  

The Swim 60 Challenge could be 60 minutes, 60 lengths or 60 miles – participants choose the time and distance according to personal fitness levels, with the aim to both improve their health and raise vital funds to power the charity’s research into heart and circulatory disease. 

This challenge seeks to engage with the population of Wales, share the benefits that aquatic exercise brings and highlight real-life examples of the positive impact swimming has on people’s lives. 

“Sometimes I just tell people I fought a shark” 

One person encouraging others to join the BHF Swim 60 Challenge is Garyn Jones from Neath 

The 18-year-old swimmer underwent corrective surgery and had a pacemaker fitted when he was just 11 months old, following his diagnosis of a Congenital Heart Defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He has since needed five more heart surgeries, including a new pacemaker in fitted in November last year. 

Before recently starting a Games Design degree course at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Garyn was Club Captain at Neath ASC, and he credits his fitness from swimming for his quick recovery.  

“I was told at a young age by my doctors that contact sports could present a risk to my pacemaker, which led me to getting into the pool. My parents signed me up to swimming lessons when I was very young, after a family holiday when all I wanted to do was spend time in the pool.” 

Garyn began progressing quickly in swimming and joined Neath ASC when he was in Year 6, but it would be another year before he was swimming competitively for the club.  

“I just loved it” Garyn said, “Swimming has helped me loads – obviously my physical fitness, but the social side really helped to build up my confidence. I loved the competitions – I enjoyed competitive and training opportunities at home and away, winning a few medals and awards along the way.” 

In the time that Garyn was swimming competitively, he required two heart surgeries including a valve replacement in 2020. The surgeries kept him out of the pool for over 12 weeks at a time, but his fitness and determination to recover was unquestioned, especially as the pandemic continued to impact everyone’s access to the swimming pool. 

“After my last open heart surgery in 2020, I was out of the intensive care ward after just a day. The next day, I was also up and walking much earlier than expected.”  

Garyn was placed on an enhanced recovery programme following his valve replacement surgery in 2020, with surgeons praising his fitness levels for this achievement.   

Whilst heart conditions like Garyn’s are often considered invisible disabilities, swimming has occasionally highlighted his scars following multiple surgeries. People sometimes stare, but Garyn isn’t afraid to discuss them.  

Garyn said: “My scars are what make me who I am. I think they are really cool. I sometimes just tell people I fought a shark, but then I will tell them eventually about the surgeries.”  

“I guess my advice to others now would be to not let a diagnosis, heart condition or anything else, hold you back. I am proof that swimming is good for you, and I hope I can inspire others to take up swimming as part of the Swim 60 challenge. If you set a goal you will find your rhythm, and soon 10 lengths will become 20 lengths, and then hopefully you’ll make it to 60!”  

Fergus Feeney, CEO, Swim Wales said: “The Swim 60 Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages and abilities across Wales to complete their own 60 challenge in whatever shape or form suits them. Regular aquatic activity can improve social, emotional and physical wellbeing, but it’s important to highlight that swimming can also be a lifesaving skill, and can maintain and improve heart health. We hope the Swim 60 Challenge with BHF Cymru can encourage people back to their local swimming pool in 2024 and raise money for such important research. Whatever your level of swimming, there will be a challenge that’s perfect for you.” 

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru said: “We are so proud to get support from Swim Wales this Heart Month, to create a fundraising challenge and raise awareness of our work across Wales. The health benefits of swimming are well recognised, and it is one of the few activities that work your whole body. 

“A cardiac arrest can affect anyone at any time, and you’re most likely to need to give CPR to a loved one. That’s why we need everyone to learn CPR, and you can do that right now with RevivR – a free, simple tool that gives you the skills to help save a life, a loved one in just 15 minutes. We urgently need to fund more lifesaving research to fight heart conditions like cardiac arrest that devastate so many people and loved ones. Fundraising for the BHF this Heart Month through the Swim 60 Challenge will help to fund the breakthroughs of tomorrow and keep families together for longer.” 

To find out more, donate or take part in the Swim 60 Challenge, go to: www.justgiving.com/campaign/swimwalesbhfcymru 

To find out more about Heart Month this February, visit bhf.org.uk/heartmonth 


About Swim Wales 

Swim Wales is the National Governing Body for Aquatics and it associated disciplines in Wales which include Swimming, Water-Polo, Para Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming, Open Water and Masters Swimming. 

Swim Wales adopted the vision of “Aquatics for everyone for life” in 2017 as its guiding principle. This vision has shaped the organisation’s YMLAEN strategy, activities, initiatives, and programs, emphasising its commitment to making aquatic activities and sports accessible to individuals of all backgrounds, including age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. 

About the British Heart Foundation    

It is only with donations from the public that the BHF can keep its life saving research going. Help us turn science fiction into reality. With donations from the public, the BHF funds ground-breaking research that will get us closer than ever to a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases. A world where broken hearts are mended, where millions more people survive a heart attack, where the number of people dying from or disabled by a stroke is slashed in half. A world where people affected by heart and circulatory diseases get the support they need. And a world of cures and treatments we can’t even imagine today. Find out more at: bhf.org.uk           

“The BHF’s information and support services can give you help and guidance on any heart question that bothers you, no matter how big or small. To find out more, search ‘BHF questions’ or speak with one of our cardiac nurses on our Heart Helpline.” 


The BHF advises that people with heart conditions should only swim in water with a temperature of 26–33°C (79–91°F) as colder or hotter temperatures mean your heart needs to work harder. Most public swimming pools are regulated at 29°C, which is 84°F. 

If you’ve had heart surgery, you must wait at least 10–12 weeks before swimming. This will allow your breastbone and muscles in your chest to heal. Check with your surgeon or cardiac rehab team before you start. 

For further information go to: The benefits of swimming – Heart Matters magazine (bhf.org.uk) 

The BHF has created resources to help patients and their families understand a range of heart and circulatory conditions. These are available at bhf.org.uk