Thousands take on the Great East Swim at Alton Water
PUBLISHED: 14:09 17 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:32 17 June 2017
Thousands of swimmers zipped up their wet suits and took on the Great East Swim today.
The open water event, now in its eighth year in Suffolk, saw swimmers of all ages and abilities take on a variety of distances at Alton Water near Ipswich.
The crowds were treated to glorious weather, the sun glinting off the calm waters as the swimmers made their way round the course.
From club swimmers training for a triathlon to youngsters experiencing open water swimming for the very first time, every swimmer had a beaming smile on their face.
A team from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service were there raising money for mental health charity Mind, and have already raised £2,000 of their £5,000 target.
Chief fire officer Mark Hardingham, who was himself taking on the one mile distance, said: “It is fantastic, it’s an absolutely perfect day for it.
“When you walk down here it truly is the best of Suffolk.
“Fantastic place, beautiful weather, people having a good time - it is everything that is good about Suffolk.
“This is the second time I have swam one mile. I’ve bought a wet suit and I did go for a swim about two weeks ago just give me the confidence to get around.”
Rob Milburn and Simon Emm, from the Masters swimming club in Colchester were the first two to cross the finishing line in the 10k event.
Rob said: “There are quite a few of us from Colchester here, some of the kids from the club as well.
“I guess it is something for them to emulate - or for probably for us to try not to get beaten by them.”
Paul Berry, 36, from Ipswich, was cheered over the line by his wife Charlotte and daughters Tess, six, Hettie, four and Emily, two.
He took part to raise money for Suffolk Artlink.
“It was really good, I absolutely loved it,” he said. “I did it last year but this year was even better.”
Mark Parrott and Dean Martin travelled all the way from West Sussex to take on the 5k swim.
“It was great, last year we did the two mile, this year we have done the three,” said Mark.
“I can tell you the last half mile felt like a long way today.
“But it is a brilliant day for it, the water is just under 20C.”
The pair are raising money for Little Life Savers, a scheme where children are taught life-saving resuscitation skills at school.
Linda Fordham from Bardwell near Bury St Edmunds has raised almost £1,000 for blood cancer charity Bloodwise.
The 43-year-old was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2014 and was keen to give something back for the support she received.
“I was at Addenbrookes for a lot of that time and has six months of chemotherapy,” she said.
“But I was then given the all clear and really wanted to give something back.
“I had lost a lot of weight after the treatment and swimming helped me build up my strength. I have two young children who love swimming together too.
“It was a perfect way to get back to fitness. This was my first Great East Swim, I was concerned about it being cold but it is such a beautiful day the cold hasn’t been an issue.
“I have raised around £950 for Bloodwise so far.
“My eldest is very eager to do it and he is 13 now.
“So maybe we will take it on together next year.”