After last year’s 2km victory, Ollie Heard aged 13 (Taunton School) took gold in the 4km at the Exmoor Open Water Swim at Wimbleball Lake last Sunday. In a stunning time of 52 minutes he is certainly destined to become one of GB’s top swimmers.
Other remarkable local successes from Taunton School included the top 4 women in the 2km, in order of finishing: Skye Mcglaughlin (13) Skyla Coate (15), Henrietta James (14) and Emma German (16). Also Jack Butler (12) took bronze overall!
It truly was the most amazing accomplishment of Taunton School to field such an incredible team who were up against seasoned and certainly older athletes! I am not sure what they put in the porridge at Taunton School, but I want some!
700 hundred contestants took to the water. Besides the 2km, there were 4km and 6km distances which took competitors on a massive loop of Wimbleball Lake (Taunton). It was wonderfully tranquil, but there certainly was a chill in the water.
All types of swimmers took part, with many just wanting to sample the delights of open water swimming. The average age was 43 with the oldest being Sue Tearall (70) from North Molton who took gold in her category in the 2km. Youngest was Owen Byatt from Bristol, also a medal winner in his category – taking bronze in male juniors under 16.
40 skins (non-wetsuit wearers) took part in what is becoming a mass participation sport and today there were more women taking part than men…
Overall winner in the 6km was Kit Walker (Dorset) who finished in a stunning time of one hour 23 minutes. Walker pipped Paralympic swimmer and Dartmoor Open Water Swim champ Benjamin Procter at the post. He took the whole race to catch up, just managing to overtake Procter (Cornwall) in the last 500 metres.
Olympian Heather Fell came in second in the women’s 6km beaten by Gemma Owen by 30 seconds in a nail biting finish.
Local Paralympian gold medalist Giles Long handed out the prizes in the event which is has become one of the most prestigious swimming event in the South West’s calendar. Fiona Taylor (Honiton) says: “A really well organised event run by a friendly team, Beautiful location and good to see a range of distances available to swim. Buoys were bright and visible and support team on the water were great - 5 stars!”
The organisers would like to thank all the kayakers, volunteers and their head sponsor the Pickwell Foundation without whose help this event could not take place. They would also like to thank all those people who have donated to their various charities, which includes Children’s Hospice South West and Surfers Against Sewage, RNLI which over their 3 events have raised in excess of £15,000. Not only that but they are the first sporting events company to put on a single use plastic free event in the UK.
Exmoor Open Water Swim in association with the Pickwell Foundation is set to return on 29/09/19, with early bird entries going live in December: www.exmoorswim.co.uk