Counting cost of Great North Swim cancellation

source: http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/

THE cancellation of the Great North Swim disappointed thousands of swimmers as well as local traders.

Over 9,000 competitors had signed up for what would have been the third annual one mile race from Low Wood marina.

One swimmer who decided to stay in the area was Sarah Findley, 28, from Leeds, who was to swim in the event to raise money for the Stroke Association.

She said: “I got a text and an e-mail on Friday to say it had been postponed.

"I was really gutted but I decided to make the most of the nice weather and came across with my family anyway as the hotel was already paid for.”

Another group of swimmers who made the journey to Windermere after paying for a hotel were colleagues Mark Howlett, Simon Chester and David Alsop, from Yorkshire.

The friends were all due to swim to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Alan Ayers, owner of the Woodlands Hotel on New Road, Bowness, said: “This could only happen in England. People have swum in that lake for a million years and we cancel the swim a day before.

“It’s a real shame because so many were looking forward to it, not just the swim but coming here to stay on a fabulous weekend.”

Jonathan Kaye, owner of the Cedar Manor, said: “Most hotels have a system in place with regards to late cancellations, so ultimately it is the competitors who lose out.

“They have trained hard and booked hotels in advance so it is a real shame for them.”

Jason Dearden, managing director of the Windermere Marina Village, said they had been looking forward to a busy weekend.

“The Great North Swim has proven to be a fantastic boost to the economy because it attracts thousands of visitors to the whole area over the weekend,” he said.

“The news that it hadbeen cancelled was a disappointment part-icularly as the weather was set to be in our favour. However, many made the most of it to spend a weekend here.”

David Hart, com-munications director of Great North Swim, said: “We are very disappointed not to be able to stage the swim but the welfare of competitors is para-mount and it would be entirely irresponsible for us to go ahead.”

Meanwhile, the British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA) went ahead with its 10.5 mile annual swim in Windermere, now in its 50th year, last Saturday.

The BLDSA said the route avoided the area where the algae was growing.

And one adventure challenge company offered swimmers an alternative.

Adventure Challenge Solutions - based at Capernwray Dive Centre - offered the chance of a 1500-metre swim on Saturday and Sunday in their purpose-built venue.

l All Great North Swim entrants have been offered a full refund of entry fee or deferment of entry until 2011. Details can be found at www.greatswim.org