Thunderstorms, glow-in-the-dark plankton, eels and night swimming; just some of the features of Clevedon Marine Lake’s epic relay! Over 24-hours, 3 teams totalling 44 swimmers swam 150km (93 miles) and raised £3.4k for charity.
The swimming event for summer 2020
If you went down to the lake between 5pm on Thursday, 13th and 5pm on Friday 14th, you might have seen the 24-hour super-relay swimmers. With all our usual events cancelled this summer because of Covid-19, this was our chance to come together to take part in an event and raise vital funds.
The event was so 2020, with one member of each team swimming an hour-long slot at a time to keep socially distanced. But, while each person swam, the support from the rest of the team online was huge, which brought to together the whole swimming community in a big team effort.
Some swimmers put in an hour-long swim, while others did more, including Becca who swam an incredible 13km over eight hours. “It was such a wonderful 24-hours,” said Becca, who stayed for the whole time. “It really pulled the community together again. And it gave me my confidence back showing me that I can do more than I know.”
Becca wasn’t the only one who got a much-needed boost. “I got in the water with no ambition other than to enjoy an hour in the lake, but I discovered that I could actually swim continuously rather than having to keep stopping,” said Jo, who swam 2.1km in her hour-long slot. “That gave me back some of the confidence I lost over lockdown.”
“I have never swum more than four lengths in a row and yesterday I was doing 10 at a time,” said Leander, who swam four legs. “I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to swim for an hour straight and I did four hours! Feeling very happy.”
For others, it was the experience of swimming in the dark that was extra special. Lit by candles in lanterns, fairy lights and torches inside tow-floats, the lake looked magical. But the swimmers didn’t have the lake to themselves. Many felt eels and fish brushing up against them, and they also saw phosphorescence, tiny, glow-in-the-dark organisms that live in coastal waters.
“I had such a fabulously memorable swim during my midnight to 1am slot on the 24hr relay in the lake,” said Jeremy who swam with his partner, Sue. “It was an odd thing to do I think; swimming in a sea pool with just a couple of others, in the middle of a dark night, deliberately missing sleep, and paying for the privilege. Finished just before the lightning arrived too!”
It was the arrival of thunder ad lightning that hit pause on the relay at 1.15am. But as soon as it was safe, the swim started again to carry on through to dawn.
Helping to save a charity
The 24-hour relay was part of a UK-wide event called Lakes for Level Water. Lakes across the country held challenges and raised money for the charity Level Water. Like many charities, Level Water’s fundraising has been badly affected by the coronavirus crisis, and its future was looking bleak. But, thanks to the efforts of outdoor swimmers, it has raised enough money to teach disabled children vital swimming skills in 25 pools next year.
Over the weekend of August 15th and 16th, swimmers set their own goals to complete. One such pair, Garry and Maria, took part in both events, swimming an astonishing 21km each over the four days.
“We did it; 21km+ over the weekend,” said Garry who first started swimming outdoors in May following the closure of swimming pools. “Six months ago I’d have never thought I’d be here doing this. I’m proud to have achieved the distances we did. I’m proud to be associated with dedicated and driven people at Clevedon Marine Lake who accomplished whatever challenge they set themselves over the weekend. And I feel inspired by the people celebrating their successes, no matter how big or small. We all have our own personal Mount Everest to climb.”
The Clevedon Marine Lake team has raised £3.4k so far. That’s £2700 for Level Water and £680 towards keeping the lake open, clean and accessible for all. “Accessibility is very important to us,” said Joe Norman, Chair of Marlens, the charity that looks after the lake. “We have a level promenade around the lake, sloped access for wheelchairs and broad metal steps with railings for entering and exiting the water. We have recently installed more benches so people can sit to change or to be next to the water. It’s fantastic that Level Water can give children with disabilities the swimming skills that so many of us take for granted. And the funds that the swimmer have raised for Clevedon Marine Lake will help us keep the lake accessible for as many people as possible to enjoy.”
You can still donate. Just click here to find the team’s page and add your donation.
Night swimming with a tow float and lantern
Proud swimmers finish their swim
A tired swimmer finishes the final swim of the 24-hour relay