On Saturday 26 September 2009, over 1,500 swimmers will swim a mile in Alton Water as part of the British Gas Great East Swim, which in its first year has already become the east of England’s biggest open water swimming event.
The field of swimmers is wide and varied from celebrities such as Ireland’s greatest ever long distance runner, Sonia O’Sullivan and Maxwell Caulfield who plays Mark Wylde in Emmerdale, to a swimmer who is taking part in memory of his two friends that lost their lives in Afghanistan and a swimmer who spent 9 months in a coma.
At the head of the field, several of the world’s Olympic heroes will be fighting for the title, including Russia’s Olympic 10km open-water champion Larisa Ilchenko, Great Britain’s World champion Keri Anne Payne and Olympic bronze 10km open-water medallist, Cassie Patten.
In the men’s event, Great Britain’s Commonwealth double champion, Dave Carry, Germany’s number one male 25km swimmer over the last 5 years, Alexander Studzinski, and the British Gas Great Scottish Swim Champion Danill Serebrennikov from Russia are expected to battle it out.
The British Gas Great East Swim is the final event in a four part series across the UK, which will have over 10,000 swimmers tackle the one mile distance.
Speaking about the event, Colin Hill, Event director commented: “Our vision for the British Gas Great East Swim was to inspire people into trying outdoor swimming for the first time as well as having the world’s best competing in the same event. The swims provide a great opportunity to set oneself a challenge, get together a group of friends or colleagues to participate or to raise money for charity. Whatever the reasons for taking part, the bottom line is all about inspiration and enjoyment”.
And inspire people it has. Julian Crabtree is a self styled adventurer who is attempting to compete in every wave in all four Great Swim events – no mean feat considering the waves start at 30 minute intervals. The British Gas Great East Swim will be the final leg of his challenge and if he succeeds he will have swam a total of 48 miles, which is the equivalent of swimming the Channel and back.
Waves of approximately 200 swimmers will enter the water from 9.00am onwards, with the elite races going off from 12.00pm. Spectators are encouraged to come down and cheer on the participants and enjoy the many different activities on offer including a Farmers Market, 2012 Bandstand, OSS Hot Tub, Suffolk Food Hall, Bike Hire, Walking Routes, Climbing Wall, Trampoline, SCC Mobile Library Unit , Watersports and Healthy Ambitions Vehicle.
Further information and an event timetable for the day can be found at www.greatswim.org