SUFFOLK is preparing to make a splash this weekend as the John West Great East Swim returns to the region.

The county’s biggest swimming event takes place at Alton Water, near Holbrook, on Saturday, for its 11th staging since launching back in 2009.

Thousands of swimmers and spectators will descend on the man-made reservoir for the event, which offers a range of distances from Swim250 through to the 10KM marathon distance. Also returning for 2019 is the popular Great SwimRun events which sees hundreds of runners combine running and swimming in an innovative and exciting challenge in and around Alton Water.

To kick the weekend off, participants in tomorrow’s event assembled at the Suffolk venue to get some last-minute preparations in for their swimming challenge, joined by elite swimmer Nathan Hughes.

A team of swimmers from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will be taking part in the event, with at least one representative in every distance on the day. Station commander Sally Hammond was joined by swimmer Emma Punchard at Alton Water on Friday.

Also in attendance were representatives from the East Anglian Air Ambulance, who have been selected by Suffolk County Council as the swimming event’s local nominated charity.

The charity will have one of the air ambulance helicopters alongside a rapid response vehicle on display in the event village on Saturday, while two of the service’s doctors will be swimming on the day.

Alex Jackson, director of the Great Swim Series, said: “We're looking forward to returning to Suffolk for the John West Great East Swim which is always a highlight of the summer events calendar.

"For the last decade we've grown this event and we're proud that it is part of the biggest and most established swim series in the UK, offering swimmers a choice of distances from 250m through to 10KM.

"Swimming is an important skill to learn and it is something that we're all passionate about here - through the excellent community outreach programme delivered in partnership with Suffolk County Council we continue to get people in Suffolk interested in swimming and able to build their confidence to take on more challenges like the John West Great East Swim in years to come."

The 2019 event is the first delivered in partnership with John West as title sponsors of the Great Swim Series.

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.”

The event includes a separate 250 metre distance for school children as part of the John West Great East Swim’s School Outreach programme, which is run in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk NORSE, who deliver the county’s school swimming programme that aims to engage young children with swimming.

Councillor James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health at Suffolk County Council, said:  “We all know that taking part in physical activity can have a positive impact on both our physical and mental health and we are delighted to be hosting the John West Great East Swim in Suffolk for its 11th year. 

“I am personally looking forward to supporting the thousands of swimmers who will be completing their own personal challenge on the day.”

The first distance gets under way at 8am, with the event running throughout the day. For a full timetable, click here