I have been open water swimming for 15 years, having got into swimming via triathlons and really enjoying the swimming part.  I have taken on many events of this nature in the past.  I was a former Great Britain sculler, but that was 25 years ago. I now run, swim and race a car.  I have also swum in numerous lakes, from the Serpentine in London and Shepperton Lake in Surrey to Lake Zurich during a Half Iron Man.

Sam swimming

I decided to swim the Solent because we lived on the isle of Wight last year and I thought it would be a challenge… and save the cost of a ferry trip!!  To swim with Aspire was the obvious choice because they know what they are doing when it comes to open water swimming.  The Solent is not the sort of swim that should be undertaken lightly as there can be hazards such as the weather conditions and shipping lanes.

My friend Vassos and I decided to swim together.  I’ve known him for three years, ever since he came to run at our running club – Barnes Runners in South West London – and we only live 200m away from each other.  

Sam with his friend Vassos

I was looking forward to the swim because I expected it to be a good, solid challenge which would also be fun and give me some exercise.  On the day, the swim took me about one hour 45 minutes.  There was a light swell and good weather conditions, with thin cloud giving way to the sun when we walked up the beach in Ryde.  During the swim we saw large tankers and I could taste the Isle of Wight ferry in the water when it went past!  Luckily for me, my kayaker Andrew steered me clear of a very large jellyfish, for which I am extremely grateful!

The whole day was excellent - friendly, but professionally run, and we were lucky with the water temperature and weather.  I really enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to anyone thinking of swimming the Solent with Aspire - as long as you have done the training to give yourself confidence, just do it.   It's a great challenge, particularly because it’s one that many swimmers would be able to do.  I think swimming from the mainland of England to an island makes it quite unique.   

Swimmers on the Solent after the swim

As for the fundraising, I beat my target raising £1,325.  I’m grateful to all my sponsors and was pleased to raise so much to support people with Spinal Cord Injury.

Sponsor Sam

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