Pals take the plunge

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THREE friends braved five degree temperatures and strong currents in the North Sea to swim from Bamburgh to Holy Island.

Jamie Pattison was joined by two friends, Liam and Ben Robinson, to swim the 5,500m gap in order to raise money for a trip to Africa.

And they believe they are the first recorded team to achieve this feat.

The 20-year-old is among a group of people studying for a Health and Exercise Science foundation degree at Newcastle College that will go on a 10-day expedition next month to the Atlas Mountains in south-western Morocco.

During the trek, they will attempt to scale Mount Jebel Toubkal in the Toubkal National Park — the highest peak in northern Africa at 4,167 metres.

And Jamie thought this winter swim would be a good way to raise some of the £950 each student has to raise.

“I’m a bit of an adventurer to be honest and I want to do world firsts and things that haven’t been done before,” he said.

It was no easy task in the icy water, fighting the current which was dragging them towards Norway, and Liam was stopped during the swim as a safety measure to prevent hypothermia.

However the remaining two battled on to complete the challenge.

Jamie said: “We trained for about a month both in sea water off the coast and in the pool at the Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre, as well as work on land to build up our fitness.

“Despite being well-prepared, as soon as I got in the water on the day I wondered why I was there and what I was doing – but then I just got my head down and got on with it. We encouraged each other along the way and there was further support from the safety boat with us.

“The swim took about two-and-a-half hours and when we got to the end we tried to stand up but couldn’t at first because our feet were used to having no weight on them. It was a fantastic feeling to complete it and we believe we are the first recorded team to swim this gap, which makes it even more special.”

About £350 was raised through donations and business SportSense provided sponsorship support.

Jamie said: “I’m really looking forward to experiencing the culture and going up in altitude. It will be another tough challenge.”