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Mum raises £650 for the RNLI by facing her fear to complete Swimathon

Lifeboats News Release

Milena Smith from Birkenhead was terrified of the water but vowed to learn to swim after her daughters were rescued by the RNLI. She has swum every day throughout June to raise funds for the charity that is now very close to her heart.


Milena pictured with lifeguards and an RNLI representative

During the month, Milena has swum 20 lengths every day in her local swimming pool to thank the RNLI. She is certain without the volunteer crew at Barmouth, her family’s future would have been very different.

Her eldest daughter Mabel, 12, was swept out to sea by the tide during a family holiday last year and drifted a further quarter of a mile out to sea due to the fast-outgoing tide. Mabel’s younger sister Elsie, 10, instructed her big sister to float on her back during the incident after remembering the RNLI’s advice she’d learnt in her swimming lessons.

A month after the incident, Milena faced her fear and had her first swimming lesson. A few months later, she’s completed a swimathon and raised £650 through her just giving page for the RNLI. Despite struggling with soreness and feeling exhausted during the challenge, Milena persevered and refused to take a day off.

After completing the swimathon she said:

‘I’m really proud of myself for completing this challenge. If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d have just finished a month long swimathon I wouldn’t have believed you.

‘To be honest it has been really tough, I started off well but the last week I was exhausted and felt sore every day. Quitting was never an option for me though because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I can’t believe how much money I’ve managed to raise.

‘I’m so glad that people have supported me by donating to the RNLI. I did the swimathon and raised money as my way of thanking the lifeboat crew at Barmouth who saved our daughter Mabel, and to the RNLI for spreading the Float to Live message which helped my daughter Elsie to save herself and her sister during the incident. I hope my story inspires people to learn to swim, and that they listen to the RNLI’s guidance to keep themselves and their families safe.’

Sophie Wood Community Fundraising Manager for the Wirral says:

‘What Milena has achieved is simply incredibly. After the most traumatic experience, instead of shying away from her fear, she has faced it head on which is absolutely inspiriting. We all wish her well with the challenge and would welcome any donation however small which will help our crews bring more people safely home to their families this summer.’

The RNLI is hugely grateful for Milena’s hard work and people’s generous donations in her support. We hope that others are inspired by her courage. It is never too late to learn to swim, and in remembering to float to live you could save your own or someone else’s life.’

Notes to Editors

Milena is available for interviews, please contact Anya Walton via the details below to arrange.

RNLI Media Contacts

For more information contact Anya Walton RNLI Media Engagement Placement (Wales and West) on 07890066217 or [email protected] . Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202336789 or [email protected].


Milena wearing her new RNLI hoodie

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.