The swimmers who took part in the cross-Solent swim. Picture by Ian Pratt LRPS.
TWENTY-eight brave souls tackled the tide between Hurst Castle and Colwell to swim The Solent in aid of Isle of Wight Samaritans.
The sixth annual sponsored swim, organised by the Samaritans, nearly did not happen as the wind was strong from the west but the coxswain of the Freshwater Lifeboat, Andy Cotton, gave the go-ahead.
All the swimmers made the one-and-a-quarter mile swim within the hour — the fastest swimmer, Matt Blake-Pead, finished in 34 minutes.
Guided by a flotilla of kayaks, many of them members of the IW Canoe Club, the swimmers set off from Hurst at 6.45am on Sunday escorted by the Freshwater Lifeboat and four RIBs.
On shore were an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, friends and relatives and IW Samaritans who served the swimmers with cups of hot tea.
All the swimmers were given breakfast made by Captain’s Cabin and a T-shirt saying, 'I swam The Solent for IW Samaritans’.
It is hoped the swim will raise at least £20,000 for the local branch of the charity, which costs around £50,000 a year to keep open.
Swim organiser Judith Hunt said: "The swimmers were fantastic, even when I told them we might have to postpone the swim.
"They had all been training hard, some of them since February, so that would have been a huge disappointment for everyone.
"They are extremely generous, giving their time and energy to train and raise sponsorship for us.
"Without them we would not be able to keep the centre in Newport open and the phone lines manned for as many hours as we do."
She added: "The swim is our lifeline and we are enormously grateful to the swimmers and their generous sponsors, as well as to all those who support the swim and make it possible and safe to run."