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Saturday, 04 July 2015

Windermere's Great North Swim makes a splash

ADVERSE weather conditions meant the British Gas Great North Swim in Windermere had to be scaled back to one day – but that didn’t stop more than 5,000 people from taking part yesterday.

Participants from near and far flocked to South Lakeland for the UK’s biggest open water swimming event

Around 10,000 swimmers of all ages and abilities had been due to take part in the event in Windermere over three days.

But Friday and Saturday’s schedules were cancelled entirely due to high winds, which were likely to affect the ability of the safety kayakers to operate and make swimming difficult.

The water temperature was 14.5 degrees yesterday, which was around two degrees colder than last year.

Most of the swimmers tackled the one-mile course, equivalent to 64 lengths of a standard 25-metre swimming pool.

In addition to the amateur and club swimmers, a world-class elite field included one of Team GB’s most exciting medal hopefuls, Keri-Anne Payne, who is looking to go one step further at London 2012 after winning silver at Beijing 2008.

The elite men’s race also boasted a top line-up, including GB’s Tom Allen and European 800m and 1,500m champion Sebastian Roulault, of France.

Participants from across the country were amazed by the stunning landscape which surrounds England’s longest lake.

Rob Goldschmidt, 47, of London, said: “It was fantastic, a lovely event.

“It’s great being able to swim up here. I’m not from here, but being able to come up to the Lake District and swim in such a fantastic place with a great atmosphere was amazing.

“The people are lovely and it’s absolutely the best. I count myself as lucky to be able to swim here and hopefully I’ll be back next year.”

Claire Dougall, 35, of Lincolnshire, took part in her first Great North Swim.

She said: “It was really good. It was quite cold to start, but really enjoyable. It was quite tough on the way out, but quite nice on the way back.

“There are lots of lifeguards on the route to help you, so you always feel safe and at ease.”

Gemma Potter, 31, of County Durham, said: “It was my first time and I enjoyed it.

“I was nervous at first, but it wasn’t as bad once I got in and I got round okay.

“It was a challenge at first, but now I’ve done it, it’s just an excellent feeling to think I’ve done something like this.

“I’d do it again now I’ve done it once. You get a lot of support from the spectators.”

Terri Hankinson, 47, of Darlington, took part with her family as part of a charity challenge to complete 12 endurance events this year and raise £12,000.

She said: “This is the sixth event and it’s been the toughest so far, but I’d like to do it again in the future.

“When I was swimming along I was looking up thinking ‘wow, this is glorious’, and then I swallowed some water and thought ‘come on, I better concentrate again’.”

Sarah Hill, 44, of Ramsbottom, Lancashire, said: “It was great, I really enjoyed it.

“It was my second time and it was much better. I was far more prepared. I was shocked last time but I was fine this time.

“It’s just the swim itself that makes it so good, and I had the chance to do it with friends this time, which I didn’t last time.”

Louise Dennis, 48, of Oxfordshire, said: “It was really good. It was a bit cold to start with, but it was nice and calm. I had a really good, steady swim.

“This is my first time here, but I’ve done the London swim three times. They’re both good venues, but this is more spectacular and colder.

“I’m coming back next year for the two-mile one.”

Have your say

I am very happy for all of you who took part and very sad for myself - I have done loads of training but because of a very bad cold and was advised not to take part - I will be back next year!

Posted by heather lounds on 25 June 2012 at 14:57

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