40 brave fundraisers swam across the Solent from Hurst Castle to Colwell Bay on Saturday (4th August), supported by a team of volunteers including marshals, kayakers, boats and Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, all in aid of West Wight Sports & Community Centre.
Swimmers included Island MP Bob Seely, 4 swimmers from Switzerland and Claire Gardner who broke her wrist just 2 weeks ago.
The annual swim is the biggest fundraiser of the year for West Wight Sports & Community Centre. The charity centre receives no funding from local government and is a vital hub for the West Wight community and Island as a whole.
Swimmers left Yarmouth just before 08:00 on Saturday morning by boat to Hurst Castle and swam back to the Island supported by a team of 28 kayakers who each buddied with the swimmers. They were also backed up by a flotilla of boats and the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat.
Mark Turner, one of the original West Wight Swimming Club members lead the swimmers and crossed the Solent in less than 30 minutes, arriving at Colwell Bay to a carnival atmosphere with hundreds of family members, friends and supporters.
Bob Seely MP, who also swam said:
“West Wight Sports and Community Centre is a really important centre for both sport and the community. This event is vital in raising funds”
Swimmer, Claire Gardner, who broke her arm just 2 weeks before the swim spoke of her joy:
“I originally pulled out of the swim when I broke my metacarpal, but I had been training since January with my friend so decided to still do it. I am so proud that I did it, it was absolutely amazing!”
Another swimmer, Helen Gibbs, who only learnt to swim this year said:
“I felt really looked after during the whole event. The kayakers and boats made sure we were safe as we crossed the busy Solent waters and the event team just did an amazing job at organising everything. It was tough to do but I would recommend this event to anyone!”
Money raised goes towards keeping West Wight Sports & Community Centre running. If you would like to donate or are interested in next years’ swim, visit the centre’s website www.westwight.org.uk.