On Saturday [22 June], nine budding fundraisers braved the cold Scottish sea in a gruelling open water swim to raise funds for Ocean Youth Trust Scotland.

With a one mile route marked from the shores of Skelmorlie, the swimmers could opt to complete a full mile or a half mile swim, each raising sponsorship to fund essential youth work at sea for disadvantaged young people on the charity’s 20th anniversary year.

The One Mile Open Water Challenge, which began when the swimmers entered the water at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, was the latest in a long line of challenges being undertaken by the Trust’s network of supporters, which have ranged from bake sales and sponsored walks to triathlons and ultra-marathons.

Ashley Mabon, Head of Fundraising at Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, heard about the challenge and decided to take part herself. She commented: “I was looking for a challenge that would take me completely out my comfort zone.  I’ve never done any open water swimming, nor have I ever been swimming in the sea in Scotland, so it was certainly a shock to the system! The jellyfish and the salt water were the hardest parts to deal with. We were flanked by a pod of inquisitive seals and after the original shock of seeing these huge creatures so close, it made for a pretty fantastic experience!

“It’s a very special year for the Trust and we’re appealing to people across the country to get behind us by taking on their own fundraising challenge so we can continue changing the lives of Scotland’s young people. Youth work is a proven vehicle for effecting positive change in young people. We see it every day at the Trust as our voyages turn round countless lives.”

Also swimming was Lucie Aitkenhead of Skelmorlie, who has been involved with the Trust in both a volunteering and governance capacity for more than 40 years, and who was the organiser of the event.

Lucy commented: “What started as a fundraising idea between myself and my sister soon turned into an organised event as more people wanted to join in. I’m delighted with the way it went and proud of all those who took part. Living on the coast, I’ve always enjoyed open water swimming and I swim regularly at my local pool. However, swimming in the sea presents a whole other set of challenges – from the cold and the salt water to the jellyfish.

“My four sisters and I were brought up in a sailing environment so we understand the impact that youth work at sea can have on young people. The money raised from our swim will ensure Ocean Youth Trust Scotland can continue to support young people who need it most.”

If anyone wishes to support the swimmers, you can still do so at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AshleyReid1

Other swimmers on the day included Shaun Wiseman (15) who pledged to complete 20 challenges for the Trust’s anniversary year but has surpassed that target by having already completed 23 gruelling physical challenges; and OYT Scotland CEO Nick Fleming, who will compete in a 56km UltraMarathon in aid of the charity in July.

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