December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 23, 2013
A LUCKY break in the weather meant that this year’s Topsham to Turf Swim went with a huge splash, breaking records all round.
With 133 swimmers – the largest number of competitors ever recorded – the event was won in a record-beating time and has raised a record £10,000 in funds for charity.
But it nearly didn’t happen, as squally showers threatened to wipe out the annual event, which sees swimmers tackle the mile-and-a-half long route from the Topsham Ferryman’s slipway to Turf Lock to raise money for the Estuary League of Friends.
Overcast and rainy conditions on Saturday morning continued with blustery showers at around 1pm.
Thankfully at 2.30pm it stopped raining, allowing the race to start.
“It was like somebody threw a switch,” said Mike Stevens, the Topsham ferryman who revived the swim in 2005.
“No wind, no rain, the river calmed down, the water temperature was warm, we had stunning conditions and the swimmers were enthusiastic. I was enthralled by it.”
“It went brilliantly, despite the fact that the weather looked awful in the morning,” said Rachel Gilpin, Chief Executive of Estuary League of Friends. “Some of the swimmers, as they turned into Turf, said that the sun was blinding them on seeing the finishing line. So it went from one extreme to another.”
Six swimmers didn’t finish, and two people experienced cramp, but generally there were no problems.
“It went well,” said Sarah Coleman, a spokesperson for Michelmores, who sponsor the event. “It’s good to support local charity, and this is the only open water swim in the South West.”
First home – and in a record time of 36 minutes – was Nye Levett, 24, from Exeter. The youngest swimmer was Tom Veale, 13, from Exeter.
Last home – and cheered on all the way by her support team – was Eileen Duthie, 58, from Exeter.
Rachel praised local organisation, including Topsham Sailing Club, for all their support. She also thanked the kayakers from the club and MET First Aid Services.
“This year has been a boost,” said Mike Stevens. “I want 200 swimmers next year. That’s my magical target.”