Some 60 swimmers from across the country braved the early morning start to take part in the Southampton International Boat Show open water swimming event, which returned to the boat show on Sunday 17 September, raising money for local charity the Rose Road Association.

Opened by Commonwealth Games swimmer Chloe Golding and European and World Junior Open Water Champion, Ashley Hogg, the event provided swimmers with a rare opportunity to swim around one of the busiest ports in the UK past tall ships and super yachts, sailing yachts and motor cruisers.

“I really wanted to get involved in this event and support such an amazing charity”, commented Chloe.  “The event is accessible for swimmers of all abilities and provides an amazing opportunity to swim in a unique location.  It will be amazing no matter what position you finish”.

While Ashley, who also took part in the inaugural event in 2022, added: “It is fantastic to have such an amazing venue, that is so picturesque and be able to support this great charity – why wouldn’t you take part.” 

Ahead of the swim, first timers at the event Jo Forshaw and Julie Marsh, who both regularly swim with the King Fisher Swimmers, commented: “I live near to Rose Road, so I’m familiar with the charity and wanted to sign up to the event and support the charity”, explained Jo.  “There are four of us swimming for King Fisher Swimmers today.  We are a bit apprehensive; it’s taking us out of our comfort zone, but excited, it’s a great opportunity; we had our bags packed and ready yesterday afternoon!” Julie added.

With the water temperature at around 18oC, the swimmers launched from one end of the Southampton International Boat Show, in three separate waves and embarked on the 1km swim around the show.  The first swimmer to emerge from the water was, unsurprisingly, Ashley Hogg, “Great swim”, he commented.

Fourth in was number 25, Joe Dalton, CEO and founder of SALT, who commented: “I’m working at the show, so this has been, refreshing, but a great way to start the day.  It was more tiring than expected but great fun and I would encourage anyone to take part next year.”

Hosted by Rees Leisure, Head of Operations, Abi Knapton commented: “We are so excited to be back at the boat show for the swim, supporting Rose Road.  Huge thanks to British Marine and the Southampton International Boat Show and Associated British Ports (ABP) for supporting the event and for making this happen.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the swimmers for them to enjoy a swim in this amazing location, that they normally wouldn’t get the chance to swim in.”

The whole event was in aid of raising money for local charity the Rose Road Association.  Head of Fundraising at the Rose Road Association, Chloe Atkins commented: “This is unique event which we simply couldn’t put on without the support of British Marine and the local community.

“We have some 60 swimmers taking part, who between them have raised over £3,000 which helps us to provide services to profoundly disabled children, young people and their families in the local area.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO, Southampton International Boat Show added: “We are delighted to see the return of this wonderful event at the show this year.  It has provided swimmers with a completely unique experience to swim in a body of water normally inaccessible due to boat movements. We have also provided all the swimmers with a free ticket to the show, so they can enjoy a well-earned day out and all the show has to offer after all their efforts in the water.”

The Rose Road Association provides direct care services for over 340 children and young adults with severe physical disabilities, profound and multiple learning difficulties, and complex health needs from across Hampshire and the surrounding counties. They also provide information advice and support services to around 1000 families per year split across neighbouring counties.

Established in 1952 by a group of parents who wanted more for their disabled children than was on offer at the time, Rose Road has since grown and now offer overnight short breaks, a community outreach service providing one to one support, a day service with an educational element, as well as after school and holiday activity schemes, Saturday clubs and advice and support to families.

All swimmers received an event swim cap, medal and goodie bag, before having the opportunity to explore the show.

The open water swimming event is just one of the many great activities taking place at the Southampton International Boat Show.  With hundreds of exhibitors, a packed scheduled of insightful and interesting talks and a whole of opportunities to get out on the water from paddleboarding to kayaking, RIB rides to trips on historic craft, it’s a great day out for all the family.

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The show is open from 10am – 6pm daily except the final Sunday when the show will close at 5pm.

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