A FIFTIETH birthday celebration with a difference was on the agenda for Harborough swimmer Ruth Cartwright.
She travelled – along with 25 members of her family and friends – to the stunning surroundings of the Devon coast to take part in the River Dart Swim.
The event organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society is a 10km swim from Totnes to Dittisham.
Swimmers were separated into four different ability waves and most of the group were in the fast wave, with the exception of Ruth’s nephew Jim Patterson, who was starting in the elite wave.
Conditions on the day were fairly good although the water temperature was a chilly 14 degrees, meaning most people were in wetsuits, with only a few swimmers on the day choosing to swim without.
The first 4km was current-assisted giving swimmers an easy start down to the first feed station at around the 3.6km mark.
The latter part of the swim proved to be more challenging as the river widened and became quite choppy.
Jim Patterson was the fastest of Ruth’s group on the day and first overall as he took on the conditions and swam strongly to complete the 10km in a creditable time of 2hrs 03.51. Richard Wood (2.21.24) and Kevin James (2.26.27) were the next fastest in 23rd and 36th respectively, James, having had lost his goggles at the first feed station, was lucky to have been given a pair by a woman who had decided to retire at the same point.
First of the women in the group to complete the swim was Nicola James (2.27.31), coming home in 46th place overall and sixth female on the day. Lesley Cook finished in around 2hrs 33mins, Stephen Greaves (2.34.11) came in a creditable 82nd, followed shortly after by club coach Ian Johnston (2.37.44).
Sam (2.45.39) and Nissy Cheema (2.48.32), in their first ever 10km, swam well to come in 161st and 209th, followed closely by their aunt Alison Patterson, 250th in 2.50.45.
Birthday girl Ruth completed the swim in a time of 2.52.17 in 250th place, which was a fine achievement given that two weeks earlier she had picked up an injury that could have prevented her taking part.
Masters swim friends Georgie Hamilton (2.59.59) and Kate Roberts (3.03.25) were the final two in the Harborough group to complete the swim, in 316th and 348th, still high considering there were 651 finishers.