Last Saturday (24 September) large crowds gathered at Monks Ferry slipway in Birkenhead to cheer as 178 brave men and women emerged from the River Mersey after swimming all the way from Liverpool.
The Across Mersey Swim has been an organised event since 1994, though the first recorded crossing was in 1863 with only two of the nine swimmers making it across after being in the water for two hours.
While this year’s swim was not a competitive timed event, as swimmers cross the together river in an escorted ‘pod’ for safety, the Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Jeff Green, told crowds that he had been there when the swimmers entered the water at Coburg Dock in Liverpool and the first to arrive at Birkenhead – Craig Fearnley, 37, and Kal Jhugroo, 38, had managed to beat his car to Birkenhead.
The Mayor also spoke movingly in support of his friend, Matt Tomlinson, who took part in the event in aid of a prostrate cancer charity.
The Mayor told crowds, “I had prostrate cancer myself and have colleagues and friends that are going through it. I would just like to remind everyone that’s here, if you’re over 50, get a blood test.”
All swimmers who left Liverpool arrived safely at the Birkenhead slipway, greeted by bright flags and enthusiastic supporters, and included a diverse range of ages, gender and backgrounds. Jan Rigby, 47, completed the entire 1.8 mile distance using butterfly stroke alongside her mother, Barbara Rigby, 69. The oldest to take part was Joe Kerrigan, in his 80s.
Organiser Liam Hanlon also took part on Saturday and after a quick rest took charge of the medal ceremony.
Over the last 30 years the event has raised money for several good causes, including Liverpool Heartbeat, Water Aid, New Born Appeal, British Heart Foundation, Claire House, Stick n’ Step, SBSA, The Hive, Yorkshire Brain Tumour Charity, Maggie’s, Wallasey Amateur Boxing Club, Paul Lavelle Foundation, Merseyside Sub Aqua Club and the Lord Mayor Charities.
If you’re considering taking part yourself, you must first be able to show you can swim two miles in open water in 74 minutes. Contact Liam at email@example.com to find out more.
Images: Across Mersey Swim