A team of 10 pupils and 2 staff swam 2.5 miles across the Solent to the Isle of Wight on Sunday morning raising over £8500 for spinal charity Aspire. 12-year-old Ollie Heard from West Buckland near Wellington, set a new record of 53 minutes beating the 1 hour 5 minute record previously held. Macey Barrett also 12 from Trull near Taunton, also beat the record with a time of 61 minutes.
Arriving on Sunday morning at Gosport the swimmers saw how busy the Solent could be with ferries, cargo ships and sailing boats aplenty. Looking across to Ryde it was then that the reality of the extraordinary challenge fully hit home for all the boys and girls, seven of whom were only 12 years of age.
The conditions were quite challenging – not only was there the necessity to avoid large container ships but it was both chilly and choppy throughout. Josh Green joked “I could see the cargo ships going along when I was swimming. I was trying to work out whether they would go into me or not!”
The Solent Swim is a recognised challenge, with the 2.5 mile route starting from Fort Gilkicker in Hampshire, to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Every swimmer was accompanied by a kayak and support vessels.
Macey Barrett, the fastest girl said afterwards “I think I’ve achieved a lot. It’s made me challenge myself more”.
Proud parents of Darcie Coleman said “Taunton School Long Distance Swimming Club has been brilliant for Darcie in so many ways… what wonderful things our 12 year old daughter has achieved and she wouldn’t have done it without the support of the teachers that gave up their time to nurture and inspire them this summer”.
More than £8500 was raised in support of Aspire, a charity providing practical help to people who have spinal injuries, supporting them from injury to independence. Impressed Aspire Solent swim Coordinator Andrew Ogierman said “Occasionally adults will say to me ‘what’s the quickest it has been swum in?’ and I used to say it’s just over an hour and they were shocked. In two weeks’ time with our final swim of the year I’m going to tell them it’s 53 minutes… by a 12 year old! The money they’ve raised will enable people to live independent lives”.
Hamish McCarthy Swim Coach and Pastoral Head of Year 7&8 who leads the Taunton School Long Distance Swim Club said in measuring their courage and resilience “Most don’t yet know the magnitude of their accomplishment or the impact their benevolence will have, having raised more than £8500 for the Charity.” He added “Normal Children don’t wake up in the morning, jump in the Solent and swim for nearly 3 miles in September; extraordinary special children can, Taunton Preparatory School children do”.
If you’d like to support this worthy cause you can donate by following this link (there is still time!): https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tsldsc1