A RUNSWICK Bay life boat volunteer has raised almost £1,000 to help keep the rescue service afloat by completing the Great North Swim.
Tom Bottomley completed the longest version of the event, a two-mile swim which took place on Lake Windermere in the Lake District on 17 June.
His achievement is made all the more incredible by the disruptions to his training caused by a broken ankle and serious illness.
He said: “I had a broken ankle in November and I had sinus trouble and was deaf in my left ear for a couple of months, so I wasn’t able to get into the water for some time.”
Despite his interrupted preparation, Mr Bottomley swam the two miles in 1 hour 18 minutes and, with wife Claire and two-year-old son Max there to cheer him on, finished a respectable 427 out of 616.
The marathon swim requires serious mental strength to cope with the conditions, although Mr Bottomley added: “It’s a lot warmer than the sea at Whitby at least.
“You have got to have the right mind set and I tend to listen to music while I’m swimming.
“It’s almost hypnotic, you just get some 80s dance playing and it’s job done.”
This year over 10,000 swimmers took part in the event, spread over three days, with participants setting off in waves of 300, something Mr Bottomley said it took some getting used to.
He added: “Swimming is my thing now, and I’m hoping to do a big fund-raiser annually.
What I am starting to realise is that these swims can be quite brutal.
“You have got 300 people running into the water at the same time, so you’re pretty much laid on top of each other.
“You get people swimming across you in the first half-mile so there’s an awful lot of argy-bargy, but then after a while you all spread out and it becomes more civilised.”
To donate funds Tom Bottomley in support of the Runswick Boat life boat visit his JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/TomBottomley.