THE water was cold and they felt tired by the end of it – but a group who swam part of the Solent did so in the name of good causes.
Members of Absolute Running open water swimming club took part in their first session of the year last night to help boost their confidence in the water and have some fun.
The challengers waded into the sea off No 2 Battery car park and swam half a mile to a white buoy near Stokes Bay Sailing Club and back before drying off.
They were joined by a team of fundraisers who used the time to train for a fundraising swim being held later in the year.
The challenge from Gilkicker Point to Ryde Beach on the Isle of Wight is being held in September to raise money for the Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation.
The charity, which lets out two caravans on Haven campsites to families with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, was set up shortly before the death of Oakley, six, the son of ex-Pompey player Dave Waterman, in 2005.
Mr Waterman, who enjoyed being out on the water, said: ‘These lads could be at home with their families on a Friday night, so for them to get out on the water is fantastic.
‘It spurs us on to keep raising money, and the commitment from everyone has been fantastic.
‘It’s cold when you first get in, but after a while you get used to it and your body acclimatises.
‘Since Christmas, we have been using the swimming pool and people have been giving up their time two to three times a week.’
The open water swimming club was set up last year for people who wanted to get more used to the water.
It has swelled to more than 130 members and out of it grew The Bayside Triathlon Club, a community group for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Nick Carter, who runs the swimming club, said: ‘Last summer was so successful, people would come and have fish and chips and watch everyone. It’s nice to be able to use the beach. It’s all about community spirit.
‘People use the opportunity to boost their confidence on the water and make new friends.’
Mark Millard, 50, is a member of the club and last night decided to support everyone on from the sidelines with his son Oliver, five.
Mark, who lives in Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘There’s always a great atmosphere.
‘It’s great and you look after each other.’
For more on the group, see its Facebook page at facebook.com/ARrunshop