Eastleigh Borough Council’s award-winning Lakeside Country Park has been chosen as one of only 18 centres across the UK to host the Open Water Swimathon.
The national event, which this year takes place over the weekend of September 8 and 9, is one of the largest charity events of its kind, with money raised being donated to Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
At Open Water Swimathon, participants will have the opportunity to take part in an individual challenge (400m, 1.5K, 2.5K or 5K) or a team one (1.5K or 5K), perfect for both experienced open water swimmers, and those transferring from the pool to the open water for the first time.
The Open Water Swimathon at Lakeside Country Park will be overseen by triathletes Steve Cooke and Kelly Wickens, founders of HOWL Multisports – which is based at the 22-hectares lakes and woodland site.
Set up three years ago with the backing of the British Triathlon Federation, HOWL Multisports club runs twice weekly Open Water Swimming sessions along with regular courses for people wanting to take up the sport at the beautiful Lakeside setting.
Open Water Swimming is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. Its surge in popularity is partly down to the fact it is one of the three disciplines in a triathlon – the largest growing sport globally.
Speaking about open water swimming, Steve Cooke said:
"Lakeside is such a lovely place to swim. We have three loops, covering 380metres, for experienced open water swimmers and a 120 metres loop, in the middle of the lake, for beginners, to acclimatise them.
"Since we launched at Lakeside, we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of people taking up Open Water Swimming. We host a number of courses at Lakeside from coaching triathletes who need to swim in open water, be it a lake, a river or the sea to taking a person from pool swimming to open water swimming.
"We are a very inclusive club. Our members do not just include triathletes; we have people who swim with us for health reasons. We have everyone here from professional athletes, competing at high international level, to a couple of ladies who simply enjoy swimming breaststroke in the open water together."
Eastleigh Borough Council’s Chair of Eastleigh Local Area Committee Cllr Paul Bicknell said:
"We are delighted that our Lakeside Country Park can support the annual Open Water Swimathon – and to be one of only 18 centres across the UK chosen to be a centre is a real coup for the Borough, putting Eastleigh on the map again.
"Open Water Swimathon is a social event that brings groups of people together in an outdoor environment, helping them to raise money for good causes and improve their physical fitness in the process.
"I wish all the participants the very best on the day and hope they enjoy the new facilities at Lakeside and can take some time to explore the rest of the park."
Membership to HOWL Multisports club at Lakeside Country Park costs £12.50 a year and includes one free swim and insurance coverage. Members can then swim at Lakeside for £7 a session.
For more details about taking part in Open Water Swimathon at Lakeside Country Park on Saturday, September 8 and/or to join HOWL Multisports Open Water Swimming Club, go to www.howl-multisport.co.uk