Gallery: Hardy swimmers help keep lifesavers afloat

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 September 2012

All the swimmers Mark White, Nick Windsor, Heath Hardy, Mike Brookes and Sean McHenry being cheered by the crowd.

All the swimmers Mark White, Nick Windsor, Heath Hardy, Mike Brookes and Sean McHenry being cheered by the crowd.

Archant

FIVE swimmers braved the waters of the Bristol Channel on Sunday to raise money for the RNLI.

The annual Big Swim event saw the group battle the second-largest tidal range in the world for 2.5 miles to raise funds for the volunteer lifeboat organisation.

The swim raises about £3-4,000 per year on average, with a total of £25,000 collected since it was first held eight years ago.

Swimmers Mark White, Nick Windsor, Heath Hardy, Mike Brookes and Sean McHenry entered the water at Brean Down and swam to Anchor Head supervised by RNLI crews.

This year, the National Trust helped take the swimmers down to the water’s edge at Brean Down by car, meaning the group could climb into the water instead of being dropped into the sea by boat.

Winner Heath Hardy completed the swim in one hour 46 minutes, but was given a one-hour time reduction because he did not wear a wetsuit, unlike the other competitors.

Lifeboat operations manager Pete Holder said: “To do it without a wetsuit is challenging, put it that way.

“Wearing a wetsuit does assist a swimmer.”

Sean McHenry followed in second and completed the swim in one hour 10 minutes wearing a wetsuit.

Mr Holder added: “The day was a success and the weather was absolutely perfect.

“Anything that helps raise our profile and keeps us in the forefront of people’s minds is good. Sadly, this year the tragedy in Burnham has brought all the maritime emergency services into the public eye.

“The RNLI relies entirely on voluntary contributions to save lives at sea.”

Mercury reader Neil Gibson sent in photos of the event via iwitness24. To sign up and send in your shots of news stories from across the area, go to weston.iwitness24.co.uk

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