Six Portsmouth Grammar School pupils finish their exams - now they’re swimming the Solent

SWIM Freddie Hooper, Dan Wickham, Toby Finneran, John Baker, Rob Tusler and Max Yoward
SWIM Freddie Hooper, Dan Wickham, Toby Finneran, John Baker, Rob Tusler and Max Yoward
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IT’S an unusual way to celebrate the end of your A-levels – swimming across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

But that’s what these sixth-formers plan to do in aid of armed forces charity Help for Heroes.

The young men from Portsmouth Grammar School will set off from Gilkicker Point in Gosport and finish at Ryde Sands on the Isle of Wight on Sunday, two days after sitting their last exams.

None of them had any open sea experience before starting their gruelling training regime in September.

Dan Wickham, 18, who is in the Territorial Army, said: ‘The training has been a rollercoaster. I could barely swim a length to begin with and there were some low moments during the early morning sessions in very cold water.

‘But the camaraderie which has built up over the months is fantastic and we are a great team.’

Dan will be joined on the day by Freddie Hooper, 18, Toby Finneran, 19, Rob Tusler, 18, Max Yoward, 18, and their coach John Baker. They hope to raise £2,000 for the charity.

The three-and-a-half mile swim across the Solent will be the culmination of seven weekly training sessions in the Solent and at the city’s 50m pool at the Mountbatter Centre.

Toby, who was injured in a car crash in February, said: ‘At first swimming three or four lengths was really hard and I had to stop to take a break at each end but now we are swimming pier to pier off Southsea.’

Mr Baker, the school’s head of outdoor pursuits, said: ‘This wouldn’t have been a challenge if the boys were all good club swimmers but none of them had swum since they were small children so it has been a great test of their determination and perseverance.’

To sponsor the team visit