The Across Mersey Swim – 28 years of adventure swimming

This year’s annual Across Mersey Swim saw record numbers of swimmers taking part. Since its humble beginnings in 1993, the award-winning Across Mersey Swim remains an iconic part of the river’s history.

This year’s event was organised by Liam Hanlon, the managing director of Knowsley-based The Forshaw Group and event director for Tri-4-life. The swim was supported by Liverpool Heartbeat, Wirral Life magazine, Love Lane Brewery and Alfa Advance, bringing a new energy to the community and charity festival-feel of this great swim.

Around 180 swimmers completed the showcase event, which bridges the city regions of Liverpool and Wirral across the mighty river. The event has been recognised as an outstanding contribution to leisure and tourism in the area, raising the international profile of the River Mersey and the communities that surround it.

Emerging from two years of COVID disruption, this year saw the return of many Mersey legends including Chris Carter, whose last Mersey swim was at the inaugural event 28 years ago. Recent solo Channel swimmers Steve McHugh, Martin Pritchard Howarth, and Helen Hislop were also in attendance.

Liam Hanlon completed his eighteenth successful river swim as ‘King of the Mersey’, swimming alongside his daughter Kiera Rose who first swan the Mersey nine years ago at aged 13. 82-year-old veteran Joe Kerigan also had another successful swim, and 12-year-old Freya Doran was back to complete her second swim across the Mersey.

The swim has become something of a local community endeavour, with swimmers placed in pods with other people they have already been regularly swimming and training with, supported by pod leaders who vouch for swimmers’ abilities and speed. Swimmers this year were required to stick with their pods during the briefing and entry into the water as well as during the swim.

Liam Hanlon congratulated everyone on an amazing year of outstanding commitment, performance and achievement. Liam said: “Putting all the necessary permissions and procedures in place for the swim is getting easier as the year-on-year legacy of the event increases. Maintaining the safety and the consistency of the pre-qualification swims is the most important aspect of its success.

“There was a different attitude among swimmers this year. People are increasingly recognising the importance of open water swimming for their mental and emotional health. We don’t advertise this swim but share details with local swimming groups via WhatsApp – and this year we had double the number of swimmers we usually do. The feedback I’ve received has been very encouraging.”

Swimmers were waved off in Liverpool and welcomed back with congratulations at Monks Ferry by The Deputy Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roy Gladden.  The 20 successful pods of swimmers were presented with their medals by Wirral’s first female physiotherapist and Channel Swimming hero Helen Hislop, with the medal ceremony taking place in torrential rain.

The swimmers and support team have raised around £5,000 for over 20 different local charities and good causes through the ‘Adventure Swim Challenge of the Year’. As with any adventure swimming event, it would not be possible without the help and support of the safety crews. A huge thanks goes to many volunteers that made this a safe and successful event, including both the on and offshore crews.

To get involved in the event next year or for further information, contact Liam Hanlon, Tri-4-life event director: 07966 529133.

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