Now in its 9th year, the swim is from Hurst Castle to Colwell Bay and is the Isle of Wight Samaritans’ major fundraising event of the year.
The exact date and time of the swim is of course dictated by the tides, and this year it’s taking place a little later than usual. If conditions are right, the swim will take up to an hour, depending on the speed of the swimmer.
The swimmers will be supported by a team of kayakers, RIBs and the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat. The entire event takes place under the watchful eye of the lifeboat coxswain, Tony Moore. The final decision to go ahead is taken on the day itself and depends on several factors — with safety the prime concern.
Swimmers are sponsored and last year they raised a huge total of £27,000 for the charity.
John Trotman, director of the Samaritans’ Isle of Wight branch and one of the team behind the swim, says:
“Just this one event goes a long way to keeping us going. Having volunteers available for callers in distress is an expensive business and, without the funds raised by our wonderful swimmers, we probably couldn’t keep going.”
Taking part in The Solent Swim takes commitment and preparation. Swimmers have to be able to complete 80 lengths of a pool swim, within a specified time, in order to take part. Event organiser Mark Watkins said:
“We’re completely at the whim of the tides. We choose a date where the tidal conditions help our swimmers as much as possible but, in spite of that, it’s quite a challenge, and not without its risks.”