Seven pupils and one member of staff took on the inaugural Exmoor Challenge open water swim this weekend, with 12 year old Ollie Heard scooping first place overall in the 2km race.
The challenge, which takes place on Wimbleball Reservoir in Exmoor is arguably the most prestigious open water swimming event in the South West with elite swimmers drawn from across the UK. More than 500 competitors jumped in and braved a swim in the chilly 16 degrees Celsius water competing in the 2km or 4km events.
Ollie Heard, 12 from West Buckland near Wellington, achieved an amazing time of 26.07 and was 1st overall in the 2km beating over 126 adults. Macey Barrett, 12 from Trull in Taunton, and teacher Miss Sarah Nicholls were 2nd and 3rd in the ladies category respectively. Macey said: “The weather made it feel colder, getting in and waiting for our race wave to assemble was the hardest bit”. Ollie, an automatic qualifier for the 4km Elite category next year, said: “It was a fantastic event and I can’t wait for next year to test myself over an iron man distance”. The youngest competitors, who only turned 12 in June, were Taunton Prep School pupils Amber Wilson (79th) and Helen Hounslow (78th) who supported each other around the course. Peers Emily Halliday (15th), Josh Green (9th) and Darcie Coleman (16th) also represented Taunton Preparatory School – the only school participating – all finishing in the top half of competitors.
Hamish McCarthy, Swim Coach and Pastoral Head of Year 7&8 at Taunton School said “This is the first time the boys and girls have competed in such a large open water swimming event. It’s not about winning but completing the challenge as a team. All stood the test magnificently proving what exceptional children we have our school.”