Students at Taunton School recently took on the tough challenge of swimming across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Just before half term ten students completed an epic 5km swim across The Solent battling cold water, chop and a biting northerly wind. They have raised nearly £8000 for Aspire, the spinal injury charity.

The ten swimmers, ranging in age from 12 through to 16, plus two members of staff, swam the stretch of water from Fort Gilkicker to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. A well-recognised open water swim, this stretch of water is a considerable challenge. As the crow flies it is a 5km swim (the swimmer’s half marathon) but the challenge of this stretch of water from tides, swell and wind – not to mention ferries, hovercraft, pleasure boats and marine life – make it more a cross country half marathon in the sleet and snow.

Cold water, a biting northerly wind, high tides and swell meant the swim turned into a 7km slog. Throughout the summer the students had trained hard for the event both in the pool and at Lyme Regis, including an epic swim to Charmouth and back. Deputy Head Ed Burnett who took part in the swim said “Whilst the preparation was intense, nothing quite prepares you for the nuance of the new swim with its new challenges and quirks. The pilot said it was the toughest swim of the season and the kayak support were clearly non-plussed by the confusing swell, tide and battles caused by the wind: lots of the swimmers ended up being guided too far to the West and ended up on the Ryde pier – an interesting challenge with hovercraft passing within 50 metres!”

Two hours in the sea in cold conditions meant the pain was worth it not least of all because they had all committed to the swim to raise money for Aspire, a spinal injuries charity whom the school has been proud to support for a number of years.

Mr Burnett added: “Whilst a team sport and one in which collective care and responsibility are vital it is important to say well done to Sofia Williams (aged 15) and Jack Bollom (aged 14) for being first female (and first swimmer) and first male respectively across the Solent.

Solent swimmer

Taunton School runs a long distance swim club where students have opportunities to take on open water swimming challenges such as the Solent Swim, Henley Swim and they recently broke records as the youngest team to swim across the Channel. Read more here.