TWO children from Hawick braved freezing conditions and dangerous depths in order to raise money for charity, writes Fiona Scott.
Megan Notman, 11, and Caitlin Anderson, 12, were among the youngest competitors taking part in the Great North Swim on Lake Windermere which, despite having major safety procedures in place, saw one fatality in the mile event and another person in the girls’ heat suffer a cardiac arrest due to the cold water.
The event is staged over three days and is the biggest swimming event in the UK, attracting nearly 10,000 entries.
The girls, who practised at St Mary’s Loch, completed their half-mile race with times of 19 minutes for Caitlin and 24 minutes for Megan.
Caitlin told TheSouthern: “It was great fun, a good atmosphere and I wanted to do it all over again straight away. It’s a little bit scary, but it’s easier when there’s lots of people all around you.”
Megan added: “The cold water takes your breath away, but it gets easier as you go on. I liked getting to the finishing line, feeling proud and getting my medal.”
The girls have been doing a rookie lifeguard course at Teviotdale Leisure Centre for the past 18 months. Megan attends Drumlanrig Primary School and Caitlin is at Hawick High.
They were accompanied by Caitlin’s mum Pam, who was celebrating her 50th birthday at Windermere, and Ronnie Notman, Megan’s dad, who were both competing in the mile-long swim later in the day.
Pam did the swim in 2009 when she took part along with her dad Bill who, at 86, was the oldest person to complete the event. Bill was also there on the day to support his grand-daughter.
Competitors competed in half-hour waves with each having around 200 or 300 people in it.
Pam said: “The mass entry into the water is a little daunting, but there are loads of canoes around to keep an eye on everyone. However, we all felt that the temperature of the water was warm compared to our swimming practices lately in St Mary’s Loch where it is much colder and the recent wind and rain made training conditions difficult.”
The group were raising money for Children 1st, based in Selkirk, who work locally with vulnerable young people and have recently had their funding cut.
Donations can still be made by contacting Pam on firstname.lastname@example.org