THOUSANDS of swimmers of all ages and abilities took on a variety of challenges in the John West Great East Swim set in the picturesque surroundings of Alton Water, with temperatures in the lake hitting 19 degrees Celsius.

This weekend's event was the 11th of its kind in Suffolk, having launched back in 2009 – with more than 22,000 taking part over its decade-long history.

The event has grown from a one-mile swim to a full range of distances from the beginner-focused Swim250 right through to the marathon 10KM distance, with the innovative SwimRun events returning for the third time.

Spectators and participants were treated to beautiful weather conditions, with temperatures hitting 21 degrees Celsius on a superb midsummer's Saturday.

Alex Jackson, Director of the John West Great Swim Series, said: "It was another great day in Suffolk and we would like to congratulate all swimmers and swimrunners who took on the John West Great East Swim today.

“We would also like to say thank you to all event staff, the safety team and the volunteers, who continue to perform an essential role in this event.

“Thanks should also go to our partners at Suffolk County Council who help make this event the fantastic festival of swimming that it is."

The John West Great East Swim was once again staged in partnership with Suffolk County Council as part of their ambition to become the most active county in England.

The council's outreach programme, aimed at targeting physically inactive adults and those with long term health conditions was a huge success with 65 people taking part.

A group of 28 school pupils also experienced the thrill of the open water in a 250-metre challenge, also as part of the programme.

Councillor James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health at Suffolk County Council, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people of all ages and abilities taking on the challenge of open water swimming and I would like to congratulate each and every one of them. 

“These events not only provide a unique opportunity to inspire more people to get active and help us achieve our ambition to become England's most active county, they also provide a boost to local business and the tourism economy creating a real and lasting legacy for the county.”

Swimmers and spectators enjoyed entertainment from the Endeavour Singers who put on performances during the day.

They also had the chance to reward themselves with a wide selection of Suffolk food and produce at the farmers' market.

This year's event was the first as part of the title partnership with John West. Jon Burton, International Marketing Director at John West Foods said: “John West is passionate about health and we're thrilled to be title of sponsor of the Great East Swim, to help inspire more people to consider taking up swimming as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.”
 
“Exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand and our sponsorship of the event is just one way we'll be encouraging consumers to ‘Get Yourself Shipshape' and make more positive choices towards balanced lifestyles. Enjoying fish as part of a nutritious, protein-rich diet is one of the little steps we can all take.”

A reminder service for the 2020 John West Great East Swim is now open. Sign up at Greatswim.org/East