18 swimmers took up the challenge of swimming across the Solent last Sunday, all in aid of the Samaritans – but it was touch and go as to whether or not the weather would calm enough for the event to take place.
For days it had been touch and go whether the Isle of Wight Samaritans would be able to hold their biggest annual fundraiser – The Cross-Solent Swim – between from Hurst Castle to Colwell Bay. The weather forecast had been poor, but at 04:00 on Sunday morning Tony Moore, coxswain of the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, declared that the window of calm weather would continue long enough for the challenge to be completed, and so it proved.
With the indispensable support of the Freshwater Lifeboat, many RIBs and kayakers, 18 swimmers took up the challenge accompanied by 20 kayaks.
The first swimmer ashore was Colin Throssell from Basingstoke, who had to be in a hurry as he moved house the Friday before and was under instruction from his wife to get home quickly as there were still plenty of boxes to unpack. He was inspired to swim the Solent by his mother-in-law, a Samaritan, who did it a few years ago and made it sound easy and fun. Although the sea was calm at Colwell it had been choppy in the middle, making him grateful for the 2000m training that he has been doing three times a week in the City, where he works.
Many swimmers declared that they wanted to do the swim to raise money for such a worthy cause as Samaritans and that the search for sponsors was made easier as people were very supportive of the work Samaritans volunteers do.
John Stevens was swimming in memory of a close friend who passed away a few years ago.
Matt Lister was happy to swim in the sea after his training in a “manky lake in London.” He was also very grateful to his kayaker, Darren Porter, who lent him his wetsuit, as the zip went on Matt’s as he put it on. ‘A shingle bank on the Solent In a draughty dawn wind is a challenging spot to change clinging wetsuits!’
Al Steane from Bembridge, a Volunteer for Isle of Wight Samaritans himself, was last ashore, having been taken by the tide ‘round the corner’ towards Totland, but made it safely ashore and appeared, accompanied by shore party members, to cheers from the assembled crowd of supporters.
This year’s oldest swimmer, Alleyn Wilson was swimming to prove that you are not over the hill at 70. She was also raising money for a cause close to her heart, as before retiring she was a social worker dealing with suicide prevention, and is aware of the invaluable work that Samaritans do.
John Trotman, Chair of the Isle of Wight branch of Samaritans congratulated all involved:
“The annual swim requires the help and enthusiasm of so many, including the marvellous Freshwater Lifeboats, support kayakers, RIB crews, swimmers and shore team. We are massively grateful to them all”.
“Do please get in touch if you feel you would like to support Isle of Wight Samaritans in any way. The link for volunteers is http://www.samaritans.org/volunteer_interest/form“.
If you need someone to talk to, call The Samaritans in confidence on 08457 90 90 90.