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Are you a swimmer looking for a challenge? Entries are now open for the Solent Swim 2021, on 4 July.

You could be among the swimmers crossing 1.3 miles from Hurst Castle, near Lymington, to Colwell Bay.

Anyone over 18 can take part, if they complete a timed swim beforehand. Each person is asked to raise at least £250 for the centre. The event has raised a total of more than £250,000 for the centre over the years, thanks to 544 swimmers. Proceeds over £250 can be split 50:50 with another charity of the swimmer’s choice. More than 30 charities have benefitted in this way.

This is a huge community effort, involving Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, the IW Canoe Club, Yarmouth Harbour, Needles Pleasure Cruises, Captain’s Cabin at Colwell, and many kayakers and boat skippers who provide safety cover. Swimmers are taken by boat from Yarmouth Harbour to Hurst Castle, where they meet the fleet of kayakers, before setting off when the tide is right.

Last summer, the Solent Swim 2020 was one of few sports events which could go ahead on the Island, under Covid-safe conditions. On average, each swimmer raised £654 – the highest average ever.

The oldest participant, Megan Eggeling, 78, said afterwards: “I believe age is just a number. “This was my second Solent Swim and it was most enjoyable. There was a wonderful welcome when we made it to the other side.”

Megan’s advice to someone who wanted to take on the challenge was to start slowly. “It is important to learn the proper swimming stroke, because you can go faster. It gives a feeling of great satisfaction.”

Also among the swimmers was Wendy Wheeler, who has secondary cancer in her bones.
“Swimming in the sea is the best way I can keep mentally and physically well,” she said.
“It is easy to give up, but this challenge was a way of saying: Yes, you can live well with cancer.”

The fastest swimmer was Charles Bagot, who reached Colwell in 34 minutes. Charles has taken part five times.

He said: “The first half was very challenging. I was knocked around by the waves and feeling a bit seasick.
“But it was all worthwhile, to support the important work of the West Wight Sports Centre.”

To find out more, visit westwight.org.uk/events/solent-swim/