Swimmers arrive at Colwell Bay after taking part in the Wild West Solent Swim. Picture by Peter Boam.
THE largest single group of swimmers to swim The Solent leapt into the water yesterday (Sunday) to swim in aid of the West Wight Sports Centre.
A group of 64 swimmers, aged between 18 and 70, swam one-and-a-half miles from Hurst Point to Colwell Bay as part of the Wild West Solent Swim, postponed from last month due to strong winds.
West Wight Sports Centre manager Clare Griffin said: "It was beautiful and the sea was like a mirror. The swimmers said the water was warm and clear — one man said he could see the pipeline across The Solent and one lady could see jellyfish."
The event, which was started three years ago to rescue the centre from closure after Isle of Wight Council grant funding came under threat, is hoped to have raised well in excess of £20,000 to go towards the Freshwater charity providing Islanders with sports, health and fitness opportunities.
Clare added: "It really is an amazing event, everyone is so enthusiastic and the support at Colwell Bay for the swimmers was incredible."
The swimmers were supported by 36 kayakers, eight support boats, three large boats at the back and two lifeboats, and the first back were Ian Pacey and Melissa Hewison, who completed the swim in 34 minutes.
One swimmer had a very important question for his girlfriend as soon as he climbed out of the sea.
Jason Swain, 46, who was also raising money for Isle of Wight branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, asked his girlfriend of nearly seven years, Gemma Flower, to marry him.
Jason said: "I had been planning it for about a month and obviously had to hold on to it after the swim was postponed. It did take my mind off the swim though, I wasn't worried about it at all!"
Gemma, 34, said: "I was feeling so proud of him for doing so well. He said 'come over here I have something to ask you' and pulled me over to our beach hut on Colwell beach.
"He got down on one knee and asked me. I got a bit tearful and said yes."
The happy couple, who have a two-year-old son called William, celebrated their engagement with some champagne at their beach hut.
See videos from the event by Joe Briscoe of WIGHTvidNEWS below: