Ipswich/Gallery: Great East Swim a success despite date change

A SWIMMING event returned to Suffolk this weekend with crowds of spectators turning out to support the contestants.

The Great East Swim was due to take place at Alton Water near Ipswich on Saturday but was moved back to Sunday after strong winds were forecast.

But despite the last minute date change, 3,000 swimmers took part in the races which ran throughout the day.

Among the entries were Olympic bronze medallist Thomas Lurz who won the Elite Mens event, while Swiss swimmer Swann Oberson came first in the women’s event.

Contestants can choose from three distances including 1/2 mile, one mile and two miles making it suitable for all abilities.

Event spokeswoman Philippa Morrow said: “The conditions were much better. It was still quite windy and the water was choppy so it’s still been challenging for the swimmers, but it was a lot better than on Saturday.”

A farmers’ market and food concession stalls lined the water’s edge for visitors and a live band performed later in the afternoon.

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Ms Morrow added: “We’ve lost four or five food markets and a some swimmers have had to drop out because of the date change, but overall everyone has been really understanding.

“It’s an amazing venue. The water quality is very good and the support from Alton Water and Suffolk County Council has been instrumental in helping the event run smoothly.”

Jan Wolfgarten, 30, from Germany came fourth in the Men’s Elite event in a time of 17 minutes and 20 seconds. He said: “This is going to be my last year racing so I am pleased with where I came.

“It’s a very good place to swim and it’s a fairly easy course to follow. The water was a nice temperature as well. When I arrived I thought it was going to be really cold but I was pleasantry surprised.”

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