Ipswich/Newmarket: Great East Swim is delayed by 24 hours

A MAJOR open water swimming event in Suffolk has been postponed for 24 hours due to the weather forecast.

The British Gas Great East Swim at Alton Water, near Ipswich, is now taking place tomorrow, rather than today, as strong gusting winds were predicted.

A spokeswoman for the event, which attracts thousands of swimmers, said the decision was taken yesterday morning by the independent event planning group.

The weather is expected to be much improved tomorrow.

She said the programme of events would simply be replicated tomorrow, with weather conditions being monitored on a regular basis.

Participants will be offered a full refund of their entry fee if they are unable to participate.

Alex Jackson, of organisers Nova International, said: “ We are sorry to delay the event by 24 hours and fully understand the inconvenience this will cause, but the safety and well-being of our participants will always be our number one priority.”

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All participants have been notified by e-mail and text or phone message of the change. Further information is available at www.greatswim.org

Meanwhile, yesterday in Newmarket youngsters were joined by 2008 Team GB Olympians Kris Gilchrist and Cassie Patten at a schools swimming gala ahead of the British Gas Great East Swim.

A number of schools from the town took part in the event at Newmarket Swimming Pool, which is run by Anglia Community Leisure (ACL). It was aimed at giving students a taste of open water swimming as they swam an open water course. Team B from St Louis School won.

Andy Caine, elite athlete manager at the British Gas Great Swim Series, said: “We had a thoroughly enjoyable morning with the children.

“The British Gas Great East Swim motivates thousands of adults take part every year, and the School Gala is a chance to pass that enthusiasm on to the next generation of swimmers.

“From Cassie and Kris and the Great East Swim team, we’d like to say a huge well done to all the children.” The Olympians were on hand to coach and support the teams.

Corrine Hurton, from Suffolk Schools Swimming Service and ACL, said: “The elite athletes Kris and Cassie were an inspiration to all the swimmers and spectators.”

She added: “Although this was run through the Suffolk Schools Swimming Service, ACL staff were extremely helpful in organising the event.”