Swimmers enjoy first bridge to bridge river race in 80 years

Evesham Journal: Jess Blake, the fastest woman on the day. Jess Blake, the fastest woman on the day.

SWIMMERS took to the River Avon for the first time in around 80 years on Saturday for the Evesham Mile Bridge to Bridge River Swim.

It was the return of the event, which hasn't take place since the 1930s, but despite its long absence 25 swimmers were still eager to dive back into the competition.

The racers, who also helped to raise money for the Evesham Bell Tower Appeal on the day including £92 collected in a bucket alone, were given the green light to get going by the town mayor.

Councillor Charlie Homer said he was delighted to see the return of such an exciting event and hoped it would continue in future years.

Organiser Fran Webb added: "The sun shone and many happy faces could be seen in the crowds. There was a buzz around Evesham Rowing Club as the competitors’ warmed up and listened to the safety briefing and an air of excitement evident as the first swimmers’ took to the water."

After the race a certificate and Bell Tower commemorative paper weight was presented to the first male and female swimmers home, Tewkesbury Tri Club’s Oliver Wilkinson in a time of 19 minutes and 42 seconds and local leisure centre swimming instructor Jess Blake, who completed the mile in 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

Mrs Webb said it was a wonderful event and organisers couldn’t wait to begin getting ready for next year, which they hoped would accommodate more swimmers and be even more of a spectacle for the crowds.

"Thanks must be given to Evesham Rowing Club for allowing the swimmers’ use of their facilities and South Worcestershire Lifesaving Club who provided expert safety cover for them," added Mrs Webb.

"Whilst we wanted to bring back this exciting spectator event our priority was always to look after the safety of the swimmers in the water."

Evesham Vale Triathletes run regular coaching and open water swimming sessions at Ragley Hall. Anyone interested in taking part should email info@eveshamvaletriathletes.co.uk.

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