100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 39 – Pier to Pier Swim

As Bournemouth has two piers just 1.4 miles apart, a popular challenge is to swim from one pier to another – either just for the sake of it or as part of an organised event.

BHF Pier to Pier Swim
BHF Pier to Pier Swim Finish

Each year the British Heart Foundation puts on the Pier to Pier Swim. Billed as one of Europe’s biggest charity swimming events, it takes place over a weekend with the opportunity (weather dependent) to attempt this challenge in a supervised environment with plenty of lifeguard support. And a lift back to the start.

BHF Pier to Pier Swim
BHF Pier to Pier Swim – watching the action from Boscombe Pier

This year’s event took place over a weekend of glorious sunshine and perfect swimming conditions; flat sea and warm (for England) sea temperatures. There is a choice of a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning start time, with participants setting off in waves.

BHF Pier to Pier Swim
BHF Pier to Pier Swim

Having toyed (very briefly) with idea of entering, I went to watch on Sunday morning. Evidently, there are plenty of people less wussy than me, as there was a good turn out, together with plenty of spectators (deliberate or otherwise) – the beach was absolutely heaving.

Private Pier to Pier Swim Start
Private Pier to Pier Swim Start

Very different to last year when the weather was totally different and the route had to be changed to swimming in a small square because it was deemed too unsafe to complete the full course. Some friends were so disappointed they didn’t get the chance to swim between the piers, that they arranged their own private mini pier to pier swim event. I attended as logistical support (walking along the beach, carried clothes, towels and a picnic, which we had on the beach afterwards).

Private Pier to Pier Swim Finish
Private Pier to Pier Swim Finish

If you think swimming 1.4 miles in the cold water of the English Channel is a jolly good idea, entry details can be here. Alternatively, organise a swim of your own. The con, of course is that it is unsupported if you get into trouble and you end up 1.4 miles from where you started, without any clothes. The pro is that you can select a weather appropriate time slot and choose which direction to swim in, according to the current. Better still, omit the swim and skip straight to the picnic on the beach – works for me!

Post Private Pier to Pier Swim Breakfast

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