Swimmers make a splash in Shrewsbury open water challenge

Almost 150 swimmers braved the River Severn in Shrewsbury to take part in an annual open water race.

Swimmers make a splash in Shrewsbury open water challenge

The Severn Mile Open Water Swim, which was organised by Shrewsbury Masters Swimming Club, took place yesterday in front of dozens of spectators.

Competitors donned wetsuits as they set off from the jetty where the Sabrina Boat cruiser is normally moored.

Swimmers were able to either take on distances of 700 metres or 1,500 metres, with participants swimming from the Welsh Bridge to Kingsland Bridge, finishing at Pengwern boathouse.

It is the seventh year that the event has taken place in Shrewsbury after it was first launched in 2008 with 12 swimmers taking part.

Kathryn Weaver, spokeswoman for the event, hailed it a success.

She said: "This year 137 entrants challenged themselves over either the full distance, 1,500 metres, or the slightly shorter 700-metre race.

"Those new to open water swimming try the 700-metre race as a taster." She added: "Starting from the Sabrina pontoon at the Welsh Bridge, the race took the swimmers around the Quarry park before turning just after the Kingsland Bridge to face 400 metres of upstream swimming to reach the finish at the Pengwern Boat Club.

"On arrival there they were greeted by wellwishers, a finisher's medal and the fabulous catering by Pengwern Boat Club members.

"The 700-metre swimmers undertook the beginning of the downstream course but finished the first time they reached Pengwern.

"Competition was fierce in the men's race – Les Church, from Chester, retained his title in 16 minutes, 16 seconds.

"A very close second was Greg Whyte, Olympic modern pentathlete and Davina McCall's trainer for her Windermere swim.

"The fourth fastest swim of the day was by Sophie Whittingham, of Shrewsbury Masters, in an incredible time of 17 minutes 29 seconds. This was the second year in a row that Sophie won the event.

"Swimming in the race for the first time was David Stacey, High Sheriff of Shropshire.

"He declared the event a huge success and great fun before presenting the prizes to both Les and Sophie and the other award winners."

She added: "The swim was superbly supported by the Shrewsbury Canoe Club who provided the support boats for the event and Pengwern Boat Club."

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