TWO friends from Poundstock are hoping to undertake the second documented swim to the Lundy Island this month, supporting three local causes along the way.
Steve Maclure and Gary Readman will be undertaking only the second documented attempt of the Hartland to Lundy swim. They are hoping to raise £2,000 for three local causes — Bude children Ben Bennett and Corey Alway, and Bude Rugby Club Minis and Juniors.
The challenge has only ever been completed once, in September 1952 by Egyptian army captain, Captain Hassan Abdel Rahim, who was staying with the Webber family in Barnstaple. Having already set a record for swimming the English Channel, Captain Rahim was just one of two swimmers taking on the challenge, alongside Cyril Webber, who had to pull out on the day of the swim due to sea sickness.
Steve told the Post: “This swim has only ever been done once before, or documented once before, in 1952 by an Egyptian man, who said he would do it if he could have four fat bullocks or a minimum of £250. It was a race, and two people entered. The man from Egypt was lodging in Barnstaple, and he went on to land on Lundy. He did it alone as his partner had to pull out because of sea sickness. The North Devon Gazette, in 2009, did a story about the son of the guy from Barnstaple who let him stay with them.
“We’re about to undertake the same challenge, which we’re thinking will take place at the end of the month.”
However, Steve and Gary do not have a definite date for the swim, due to determining the conditions of the sea and weather.
Steve continued: “It’s not just distance that is an issue, but it’s also very technical. We’ve got to think about the tide and the condition of the water.”
Having checked both weather and water conditions for the next few weeks, the boys have found that the next suitable window for the challenge would be between August 31 and September 2.
The challenge will see Steve and Gary set off from Hartland Point and swim in between a time frame of five and eight hours to reach the Lundy island.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the challenge, Steve said: “It started off as something we both wanted to do. We’ve done stuff for charity before, but in this case, we wanted to raise money for three causes, which are Ben Bennett and Corey Alway, who are two local Bude kids — there has been lots of fundraising for these two. We wanted to raise the third lot of money for the Bude Rugby Club Minis and Juniors; we’re raising money for them because they’ve got about 200 members with about 20 or so volunteers, so the money will help them purchase some new training equipment.
“Gary and I have always wanted to do it; we’ve swam a long way all around the coast. For two years I haven’t been able to swim in a wetsuit because of an injury, but now we’re ready to do this.”
As many people from Bude will be aware, both Ben Bennett and Corey Alway are brave young children who have had difficult starts to life due to their health. Corey, at the age of just three, lives with two genetic conditions — 16p13.3 duplication syndrome and Kabuki syndrome. As well as this, Corey has hearing and sight problems, and epilepsy, which can see him suffering from more than 300 seizures on a bad day. The money raised from this challenge will benefit Corey by helping to purchase an AED machine.
Ben, aged four, is currently fighting stage four neuroblastoma cancer. Over a two-year period, Ben has had six rounds of introduction chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, a ten-hour operation to remove a tumour, high dose chemotherapy, and has spent time in intensive care and 35 days in isolation, along with six months of immunotherapy treatment. The money raised for Ben will help pay for his monthly hospital visits, and will provide support for the side effects he experiences.
The Minis and Juniors meet every Sunday during the season, and train in the week. With around 200 members aged four to 16, supported by approximately 20 volunteers, the money raised will purchase new training equipment, such as tackle pads, playing shirts, training aids and will also assist with tour funding.
The money raised from Steve and Gary’s challenge will be divided, with 50% of funds going to Bude Minis and Juniors, 25% to Corey and 25% to Ben.
However, despite the pair’s experience in swimming, they will not receive any tidal assistance — a risk in itself.
Steve continued: “When we jump in, it’s either we’ll get swept away or we’ll be able to swim smoothly. We’ll have a support boat, which either a local guy will lend us, or we’ll get one from Clovelly, which we’ll have to pay for. It’s all in the hands of the weather.”
The pair has been calling this their ‘big attempt’, due to the fear and high possibility that they may not make it to the island. Without tidal assistance, Steve and Gary will swim the eleven-mile distance through tidal currents that separate Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel from Hartland Point. They will swim with the tidal flow and will also have to tackle the famed ‘Hartland race’, a severe stretch of water with immense tidal flow.
Steve and Gary have found that training has been trying at times — again, due to the unreliability of the sea conditions.
Steve said: “We’ve been using Bude Sea Pool a lot. The sea has been very choppy. It’s not the actual swell, but the windy weather we’ve been having at the moment has made training in the sea very restrictive.”
A keen swimmer and surfer himself, Steve has also been spending a lot of time at Splash for his training sessions. He said: “I’ve been going to Splash — I live in that place. Gary has a little training pool at home, but we’ve both been using Bude Sea Pool.
“There’s been a fair bit of training to do, but we swim a lot anyway.”
With permission granted by Lundy for the pair to land on the island, and just one documented attempt of the challenge ever being successfully undertaken, Steve and Gary are looking forward to the venture.
Steve added: “It’s good fun, and it’s good to try and raise money for charity too.
“We’re looking at raising £2,000, and we’ve already reached kind of around £1,200, which is great. I imagine more people will probably donate if we make it, that’s what the local people will do — hopefully!”
Steve and Gary will be swimming for up to eight hours on the uncertain date of their Lundy swim.
To find out more, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thelundyswim.
To donate to their Just Giving page, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lundyswim