Swimmers brave open water swim from Arran to Troon in aid of the RNLI
A group of 12 females and one male ranging from 22 to 67 years of age will attempt the first 16 mile official swim from Arran to Troon
The relay swim which is expected to take the two teams a gruelling 12 hours to complete, will raise funds for the RNLI and local Ayrshire charity, The Jo Walters Trust.
The group who call themselves the Arran TrooNautics are mostly all new to open water swimming but have trained hard for the past year to get to the point where their coach and experienced cross Channel swimmer, Chris Sifleet, is confident they can make the crossing.
Some of the team will be in wetsuits but many will not, enabling the swim to meet the criteria to be logged with the British Long Distance Swimming Association. Each swimmer will swim for an hour and then be replaced by the next swimmer, before taking to the water again to complete the 12 hour journey.
The motivations for doing the swim are varied but many of the team have young children and want to prove to themselves they can take on the challenge. They also want to raise awareness for families to make use of the sea and the beautiful beaches.
“We all have different strengths and are facing varying fears, including the cold, stamina, jellyfish, sea sickness, dark water, basking sharks to name but a few but we are all committed to complete the task and have a good party at the end,” said Annie Howie, whose idea it was to take on the challenge in 2015 when she heard about a group rowing from Arran to Ayr and thought she would like to swim the same piece of water.
Annie and her friends quickly recruited a team which has trained together, and individually, in a variety of ways, including swimming a combined 16 miles in the pool for Sport Relief, and doing a one mile swimming competition in Loch Ken.
“The commitment has been huge, training twice a week for over a year, with most of us having young families and jobs,” said Lucy Johnston, fellow teammate and founder of local charity the Jo Walters Trust, set up in memory of her sister Jo, who died aged 28 in a cycling accident.
Jo was passionate about the outdoors and Lucy hopes this will inspire others to follow Jo’s example of getting out and making the most of our natural surroundings. Some of the money raised from the swim will go to fund young carers in Ayrshire to go on an Outward Bound course and the rest of the money will go to the RNLI.
“Training has involved rats, eels, seals, slime, chilblains, wetsuit burns, fear of what lurks beneath the dark water, countless lonely lengths and early mornings and late nights, to name but a few,” adds Lucy. “This has not been a walk in the park but fingers crossed we have done enough to see us safely through to completion and reach our target of £10,000 for our charities.”
Donations to the fund can be made by visiting https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/arrantotroonswim
The swim will take place one day between 25 and 30 September, when the weather conditions are right with no more than force four windspeed and the water as calm as possible. The team will have 48 hours notice of the swim date.
The team consists of the following members: Annie Howie, Alice Vernon, Barbara Johnston, Bea Bound, Caoimhe Hunter Blair, Joanna Clapton, Katherine Self, Lorna Laidlaw, Lucy Johnston, Mark Johnston, Rhona Quarm, Vanessa Lawrence and Whirly Marshall.
The team would like to thank their coach Chris Sifleet and her team from Swim4Miles and Ayrdynamics Triathlon Club in Troon for the training sessions. They would also like to thank the RNLI and HM Coastguard for their valuable advice as well as Ian Jones from Clyde and West Coast Cruising who will support the team on the day with their two yachts and support boats.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland