Julie’s resurrected race goes swimmingly

The athletes prepare to swim from the North Pier to the South Pier
The athletes prepare to swim from the North Pier to the South Pier

Julie Bradshaw took the plunge by reviving an event after two decades . . . and in the end it all went swimmingly.

And now Blackpool’s Pier to Pier open water challenge could once again become an annual event.

The swimmers enter the water at the North Pier, Blackpool

The swimmers enter the water at the North Pier, Blackpool

More than 50 hardened open water swimmers took to the Irish Sea to test themselves over a 1.6 mile course from the North Pier to the South Pier.

“That was just the right number because we didn’t want anything too big for our first attempt,” said the former Channel swimmer.

“It was pretty much like a trial run this year to see how it went.

“Now next year we can open it up to more people.”

The swimmers set off from the North Pier to the South Pier

The swimmers set off from the North Pier to the South Pier

Julie, who has a pretty impressive record in open water swimming, was born and bred in Blackpool and, although she now lives away from the Fylde, she wanted to revive the iconic race back in her hometown.

“We don’t know exactly how many years it is since it was last staged in Blackpool,” she said.

“But I spoke to one guy who used to swim in it and said it was round about the eighties.

“I’ve no idea why it stopped. But it’s a great event and we wanted to bring it back.

“Judging by how well it went at the weekend we will be looking at making it an annual thing.

“It went absolutely brilliantly - you could say swimmingly.

“We’ve had excellent feedback and it seems everyone really enjoyed it and talked about coming back next year.”

All the 53 swimmers who took part on Saturday had to have at least two years open water swimming experience.

“We had 60 people down for it and 53 turned up to swim, which was an absolutely superb number,” added Julie.

“Conditions were great. Okay, the sun wasn’t out.

“But I think that’s a good thing because you don’t get as much sun glare off the water and you don’t get sunburnt.”

Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE, to give her the full title, runs a business called Get Set 4 Success which organised the event with the support of the Sandcastle Waterpark.

Julie became the fastest British junior to swim the English Channel in 1979 at the age of 15. She repeated the feat in 2002, only this time using the butterfly stroke.

She used to swim between Blackpool’s North and South Piers as part of her training for the cross-channel challenge.

She was awarded the MBE in 2006 for services to swimming and charity.