HUNDREDS of swimmers made a huge splash for charity at the weekend when they took part in a national Swimathon.
Across the region people of all ages raised money for Maries Curie Cancer Care by taking on either 5km or 2.5km challenges.
Many pools signed up to take part in the annual aquatic weekend, which started on Friday and continued on Saturday and yesterday.
These included the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth, Holbrook Leisure Centre in Gosport, Fareham Leisure Centre and Taro Leisure Centre in Petersfield.
Now in its 25th year, the event encourages people to take part in sponsored swims to get fit and bring in funds to pay for Marie Curie nurses, who will work with the terminally ill and their families.
Aaron Crockford, of Rooksway Grove, Fareham, might only be 11 years old but he managed to raise £660 by swimming 2.5km (1.55 miles) in his local swimming pool.
‘It was great,’ said the Cams Hill School pupil. ‘And I feel pleased because I’ve done something that I had never done before.
‘And I raised more than I thought I would, so I’m happy about that.
‘The whole thing was enjoyable and I’d definitely do it again. Swimming is my favourite sport.’
Julie Jarratt, 56, of Seymour Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, and her sister Helen Blackman, 42, of Hewitt Road, North End, both swam 2.5k at Gosport’s leisure centre.
Occupational therapist and mother-of-two Julie said: ‘Recently we both started learning how to do front crawl in our middle age and this was a challenge we set ourselves.
‘We wanted to push ourselves to see if we could do it with our new stroke – we have been taking lessons for a few years.
‘It was very friendly and the staff who were doing it were good.
‘There weren’t too many people, but enough to feel you could do it.
‘We enjoyed it and it gave us a real buzz.
‘Between us we donated £150.
‘We thought it would be a great cause and a great challenge for us to do together.’
Organisers of the weekend were hoping to add to the 500,000 people who have taken part in the event so far nationally in the hope of increasing the total so far of £34m raised.
This year, swimmers were also able to take part in the Big Splash Mile on the same weekend in aid of Sport Relief.
Duty manager at the Mountbatten Centre Stephen Sones organised the Swimathon on Saturday when he estimated around 100 people took part.
‘We’ve had all kinds of people getting involved,’ he said.
‘From 10-year-olds to older swimmers and even disabled people taking part. The atmosphere was fun and friendly.’
To register for next year’s event, or to find out more, log on to swimathon.org.