UPDATE: WE VERY MUCH REGRET THAT THIS YEAR’S (2021) SWIM HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
THE UNAVAILABILITY OF SOME SUPPORT VESSELS DUE TO COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS AND THE FACT THAT MANY SWIMMERS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO TRAIN HAS MADE IT UNSAFE TO GO AHEAD.
SINCERE APOLOGIES TO ALL AFFECTED AND SINCERE THANKS TO ALL WHO OFFERED THEIR PARTICIPATION OR SUPPORT,
In recent years many swimmers have relished the challenge of swimming across this iconic stretch of water between the mainland and the island as part of ISLE OF WIGHT SAMARITANS SWIM THE SOLENT.
This challenge has attracted experienced Channel and other open water swimmers, as well as those eager to take on a new project with which to challenge themselves. And all in the excellent cause of supporting the Isle of Wight branch of Samaritans, working as part of the national Samaritans network to support those in distress and despair.
The swim is a mile and a quarter long so swimmers must be fit and able to swim that distance in the sea in about an hour. Swimmers will be accompanied by kayaks, either singly or in pairs. Several Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) and two Lifeboats will be on hand to provide support to anyone who needs it.
Frequently asked questions
When is the swim? The swim for 2021 has been cancelled (see above.)
Where is the swim? The swim starts at Hurst Castle on the mainland and finishes at Colwell Bay on the island. All swimmers must also attend a briefing the evening before the swim, which will be held on the island, so swimmers stay the Saturday night on the island. We transport swimmers to Hurst by boat for the start.
How old do I have to be to take part? Age 16 is the minimum age but we will consider slightly younger if the individual is a strong enough swimmer and this can be verified.
How difficult is the swim? The swim is a mile and a quarter, which equates to 80 lengths of a 25 metre pool. All swimmers must be able to show their ability and strength to swim the distance by giving us their times over the measured distance in a pool, shortly before the swim date. This also helps us start you at the right time and allocate kayak support.
How long do the swimmers take? It varies from 35 minutes to over an hour in favourable conditions.
What happens if I’m slower than everyone else? As long as you can do the distance in around an hour, you’ll get there and your kayak will stay with you. Lifeboats are also on hand to support swimmers and they don't leave until all of our swimmers are safe.
Should I wear a wetsuit? Most swimmers do. Wear what you feel comfortable in but it is worth trying out a wetsuit in the sea before the swim.
What temperature is the water? Expected to be around about 18 degrees Celsius or 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
What happens if I get very cold? If the guiding kayaker thinks you are struggling, they will tell the lifeboat and you will be taken on board. Most people get cold after the swim so we insist that you have very warm clothes to change into at Colwell. We provide hot drinks and a hot breakfast. First Aid support is in attendance and this helps swimmers cope with the Solent’s tides.
Do I have to train? Yes. The distance is a mile & a quarter and you have to be sure you can do that quite comfortably. It’s a good idea to do some training in the sea too if you can manage it, as swimming in the sea is a rather different experience from a pool.
How do I know which direction to head in? Swimmers will be directed by a kayak, either singly or in pairs.
What about accommodation? Most swimmers make their own arrangements for the Saturday night. It is normally a good idea to make bookings early. We can also arrange pretty basic Scout Hut accommodation free of charge. Please let us know in advance.
What about fundraising? Set about your fundraising early. Sign up to Virgin Money Giving and create your own fundraising page for Samaritans of the Isle of Wight and then you can email the link to your friends & colleagues or share it on Facebook & Twitter to help get the message out. We'll also have a paper sponsorship form available.
How much do I have to raise? There is no obligatory target but most swimmers raise between £500 and £1,000. Some raise much more! The swim is our main fundraising event of the year and is absolutely essential to our branch’s work as part of the national Samaritans team supporting those in distress and despair.
Deposit: We ask all swimmers to pay a deposit of £50 on registration. This is non-refundable if the swimmer withdraws after 1st April 2020. Any withdrawal needs to be made by e mail to the swim co-ordinator, please.
Poor Weather: Safety is of course our main priority. The safety of weather and sea conditions is determined by the Coxswain of the Freshwater Lifeboat and his decision is final. A detailed Risk Assessment is agreed every year with the Lifeboat and with our insurers and copies of this assessment (for 2019) are available on request. A copy for 2020 will be available on request one month before the 2020 Swim. We regret that no refund for travel or accommodation or other costs can be made in the event of such a cancellation.
In the event of a cancellation, we will endeavour if possible to run an alternative swim, probably in a local river, weather and water conditions permitting. Further details to follow.
Donations: In the event of a cancellation, we would ask that donations are not reclaimed, but in this event any swimmer who wishes will of course be invited to carry over their registration and donations in support of the Swim the following year.
How can I contact you if I need more information? Use our enquiry page to send us an email.
How can I keep in touch? You can join the swim Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/246805752603847/ to keep in touch with developments as the time approaches.
You can see more information on the swim, and donate or enter, on our Virgin Money Giving page.