A record number of swimmers took part in the world-famous Dart 10K outdoor swim in the South Hams this weekend - making it the biggest wild swim in the county ever.
Founded by the Outdoor Swimming Society, The Dart 10K was first organised nine years ago and is now the longest running, longest distance, outdoor organised event by them and has grown from 200 swimmers to this year’s astonishing 1,600.
A series of ‘waves’ of swimmers saw four different categories set off at different times: ’Leisurely’, ‘Medium’, ‘Fast’ and ‘Elite’ with everyone finishing at Dittisham Green where there is a mini festival on the green with friends and family celebrating the swimmers’ achievements.
“Anyone who doubts the power of love just needs to stand at the finishing line of the Dart 10K or The Swoosh 6K at Bantham and watch as people pull their loved ones from the water, embrace them as they hit the land, cheer as they finally make it and cry with joy to see them achieving not only their dreams but often so much more” said Kate Rew of the Outdoor Swimming Society and organiser of the event.
Up to 800 intrepid swimmers took to the water each day. The event can prove a fantastic opportunity for a swimming personal best due to the tidal nature of the river Dart and this year’s Elite Racing Wave had a fastest time of 1 hour 49 minutes on the Saturday and most leisurely 4 hours 27 minutes.
Interestingly 88 swimmers swam without wetsuits and 22 competitors completed the Double Dart by swimming 10k on both days.
The oldest swimmer was an astonishing 76 years old and the youngest was 16. It was the warmest year so far with the water reaching 16 degrees Celsius on both days.
Next year is the tenth anniversary of the event and there will be a big party.
The Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) is a not-for-profit organisation which works to change the view of swimming in this country and through it Devon has emerged as a wild swimmers’ paradise: there are more wild swims plotted on the free, crowd-sourced swim map in Devon than any other county.
Every year the OSS organisers choose local charities to support. This year they include Level Water which aims to get more disabled children swimming; Frank Water which helps provide clean water in India and Nepal and Devon Air Ambulance and Barts Bash a local charity dedicated to increasing participation and improving lives through sailing.