Northsea quartet master New York race

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Kate Steels-Fryatt in action  Picture: Terry Scott

What it’s like to be an ice water swimmer

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SWIMMING under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and through the choppy waters of New York’s Hell’s Gate sounds daunting enough.

But for a team of swimmers from Portsmouth Northsea, it was just part of the challenge.

Spike Buchan, Tom Rajeet, Gail Henry and Sarah Buchan powered to victory in the gruelling annual open water relay race, which slaloms through the water ways of New York.

They negotiated a total of 28-and-a-half miles, including routes through the financial district of Manhattan and East Harlem River.

Twenty teams from across the globe competed and the Northsea foursome, who train at the Mountbatten Centre, came out on top, with a time of seven hours and 55 minutes.

‘It was fantastic,’ said Henry.

‘It was a great way to see the many sights of New York.’

Former Royal Air Force recruit, Spike, set out first before Rajeet took over at the front, as the members rotated, sharing the extra workload of the lead swimmer.

Henry took over for the next leg, pulling the team through Hell’s Gate before handing over to Aquatots director and Royal Navy officer Sarah Buchan.

She led them through the East Harlem river, against the tide, before the rotation started all over again.

On their way, they were halted by a cruise ship and held up by a whirlpool.

But, with months of preparations behind them, they had more than enough in the tank to negotiate the various obstacles and take the victory.

With Henry and Rajeet both new to open water swimming, the team were particularly delighted with their achievements.

It was all the sweeter as much of their outdoor training was held up by the unpredictable British weather.