Blackpool to host pier to pier swim event

Julie Bradshaw
Julie Bradshaw

A Blackpool woman is taking the plunge by re-launching a seaside swimming challenge.

Super-swimmer Julie Bradshaw is bringing back the Pier to Pier event to let open water specialists from across the county and beyond make a splash in the resort.

The race will take place on Saturday, July 21, with 100 competitors testing themselves against the tidal conditions from North Pier to South on a 1.6 mile course.

Julie, who became the fastest British Junior to swim the English Channel at the age of 15 in 1979, wanted to bring the spectacle of open water swimming back to the town where she was born and bred.

She said: "It has been years since the pier to pier swim was held. I used to swim between the piers when I was preparing for my cross channel swim in 1979, that's where I did all my training.

"My business, Get Set 4 Success, is split between Loughborough where I now live and Blackpool and I was talking to the swimming coach in Blackpool Bob Hudson and we decided it would eb a fantastic idea to bring the event back.

"We are limiting it to 100 entrants for the inaugural year and it is only open to people with experience of open water swimming. They will have to have wet-suits and tow-floats and there will be stringent safety conditions.

"We have teamed up with the wonderful Richard Williams and the Beach Patrol team as well as the coast guard for safety cover along the route. It is tidal so we have to set off at particular times but the plan is to have two waves of swimmers one starting at 10am and the second at 11.30am.

"I could do the course in about 40 minutes and we will have a time limit for safety of one and a half hours. Anyone still in the water then will get picked up by the Beach Patrol."

She said the route was a a superb stretch of water and people taking part would enjoy it. They would also get a tram ride from the meeting area at the Sand Castle Water Park near where the race will finish, to the start at North Pier courtesy of Blackpool Transport.

She added: "Everyone taking part will get a T-shirt and a carved plaque. Blackpool is a great place to swim. We have our blue flag beach and LOve MY Beach are supporting us to bring the message of keeping our coastlines clean.

"We are going to make it an annual event. They are very popular with keen swimmers. The Bournemouth one attracts hundreds of people every year."

Although Julie first swam the English Channel at 15, she did it again in 2002 using the butterfly stroke –breaking a previous record by more than nine hours. She has also raised thousands of pounds for charities, including several children’s hospices.

She now teaches, and is a life coach.

For details visit www.getset4swimming.co.uk/blackpool-pier-to-pier-open-water-swim.