By James Johnson
A pair of swimmers were undaunted when the Great North Swim at Windermere was cancelled due to toxic blue-green algae.
Thelwall residents Janice Brown, 63, and Laura Mottram, 41, were delighted when the Guide Dogs Charity reorganised the event at Capernwray Quarry last month.
The event was inspired by the outcry from swimmers who trained for the Windermere swim, and local businesses that would have lost out.
The pair raised more than £2,600 to date with online sponsorship forms and fundraising parties, with Laura swimming on September 4 and Janice on September 5.
Janice said: “We were devastated when we heard the event would be cancelled, because of all the great support people gave us.”
However, she added: “It was an exhilarating, wonderful experience.”
Laura was quick to agree. She said: “I am amazed at how much we achieved – I set myself a target of £200!”
Laura and Janice felt the need to challenge themselves, and decided on the open-air swimming event.
Laura said: “After my first open water triathlon the year before I enjoyed the open water swimming so much I decided this would be my goal.”
Janice explained further: “When we were training, we swam in the evenings and saw some wonderful sunsets.
“The swim was a wonderful experience that I would never have missed.”
The swimmers spent the summer planning parties to raise money, including an open-air garden party.
Janice said the garden party was only possible thanks to the hard work of friends and family, and more than 100 attended the sunny event.
“The sun was lovely”, she said. “There was a real community spirit.”
They chose the Guide Dogs charity because the cause is personal to both of them – Laura’s husband is a vet and they are a dog-loving family, and Janice has friends who train guide puppies.
Laura has completed in swimming events and triathlons in the past, but this was Janice’s first outdoor event.
One of the particular challenges the pair faced was the cold, but Janice explained that they needn’t have worried, as the quarry was sheltered from the wind.
Laura explained that overall the experience was very rewarding, and said: “I was amazed by some of the individual support and generosity.”