Open water swim for Ukraine

Kind-hearted open water swimmers breast-stroked and belly-flopped into the River Witham at the weekend to raise cash to help those suffering in Ukraine.

The open water swimmers met at the River Witham at Antons Gowt near Boston. Photos by Mark Deith.
The open water swimmers met at the River Witham at Antons Gowt near Boston. Photos by Mark Deith.

Open water swimmers from across Lincolnshire descended on Antons Gowt near Boston for their first event to fundraise for the millions of refugees who have had to flee their homes.

Around 30 took part in the event, which saw swimmers completing various distances, while others took part in a a belly flop competition.

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Swimmers from groups including Wild at Heart Swimmers, Bluetits, and Outdoor Swims and Dips united together for the day.

A participant in the belly flop competition at the River Witham in Boston. Photos by Mark Deith.

Polish national Aga Smith helped to organise the event, which included a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses.

She said: “The Saturday event met with lots of compassion, with sadness all around due to the situation [in Ukraine].

“As the weather was absolutely fantastic, there were plenty of passers-by, families on bikes and walkers who were very supportive.

“One of the gentleman passing by mentioned that he has family in Ukraine, which was a very touching moment and he was overwhelmed that there was such a fundraising event happening.

A participant in the belly flop competition gives it her all. Photos by Mark Deith.

“After the swim in the River Witham, we had a soup and cake sale. So far, we have made about £700 along with the raffle tickets. Abi from the ‘Wild at Heart’ swimmer’s group has spent many hours organising prizes for the raffle and local businesses proved to be very supportive.”

Group members have also been collecting donations of vital supplies with a lorry full of items such as wheelchairs, crutches, painkillers, sanitary items, nappies and baby blankets making it way out to the border last Thursday.

“I have never thought I would witness that kind of history being re-written, as my grandparents had to go through,” said Aga.

“I was touched by my fellow open water swimmers’ actions to organise a fundraising event in aid to the Ukrainian people.”

She added: “My thanks to Paul Odgen from Skegness for initiating the event, and Abi Bryson-Weston of Billinghay and Sam Lester of Anderby for spending countless hours baking cakes, organising prizes, donations and running the stall.”

The group is hoping to hold its next fundraising event, a ‘sea dip’ at Anderby Creek next Saturday (April 9) with a fundraising cake and snack stall, among other things.

The money raised will be sent to Polish Medical Mission acting on the ground in Ukraine. The cake sale funds will be donated to the Ukrainian appeal by the British Red Cross.