Twelve swimmers from Taunton School took around 10 hours to circumnavigate Jersey – their toughest and furthest challenge yet.
Swimming in relay, in two teams, pupils Millie and Freya Tyler, Flo Salter-Green, Hetty and Ollie James, Emma Hounslow, Ollie Heard, Darcie Coleman, Josh Green, Georgia Williams, Skyla Coate and Emily Lawton, who are in Years 8-13, set off from Elizabeth breakwater at 6.30am and finished at 5.15pm at St Hellier harbour.
The first team completed the swim in 9 hours and 41 minutes and the second team in 10 hours and 34 minutes. They all jumped in the sea and swam together at the end.
They were supported by staff, onboard two boats and in kayaks, Hamish McCarthy (swim coach and teacher), Ruth Coomber (teacher), Tom Raven (Teacher), Hayley Mortimer (Director of Sport) and parent and Old Tauntonian Jonathan Lawton.
The children swam for an hour at a time in tidal streams, swell, alongside moon jellyfish, but mostly with the sun shining. They were supported on route by Holidays for Heroes Jersey and local Old Tauntonians who cheered them on from the shoreline.
The pupils undertook rigorous training during the last year in the school’s pool and in the sea, since May, including large wave swimming training.
They have raised a significant amount of money for a charity close to the hearts of the school’s parents and staff, Holidays For Heroes Jersey, whose 10th anniversary falls this week. The charity provides free holidays on the island to any member or past member of HM Armed Forces with injuries, in mind or body, attributable to their service.
The children hope that the swim will raise awareness of their work.
Florence Salter-Green said: “My favourite bit was when we touched the wall knowing that we had made it and beating our teacher’s record that he set in 1999.”
Hamish McCarthy, Taunton School’s Long Distance swimming coach, said: ”I am so proud. To put 12 children around what I think is one of the hardest swims, in not the best conditions was absolutely fantastic. It takes courage, it takes tenacity and it takes resilience and they have it in spades.”
In May, the school’s Prep and Pre-Prep undertook a Jersey Challenge swimathon in the school’s swimming pool when all the children swam as many lengths as they could in 30 minutes and raised £1700 for the charity.
Open water swimming has become hugely popular at Taunton School over the last two years with pupils swimming across the English Channel, The Solent and The Bosporous aswell as taking part in The Henley Classic swim, The St Micheal’s Mount swim and Clevedon Long swim, amongst other challenges.