Last Sunday, the pool at West Wight Sports and Community Centre (WWSCC) in Freshwater was asplash with people swimming 100 laps, to qualify for the Solent Swim on Sunday, July 4.

Among the swimmers this year is Britta Aggar, a popular West Wight cabbie, who will be celebrating her marriage a couple of days earlier.

“I am a first-timer,” said German-born Britta.

“It’s going to be an unforgettable week – I am also marrying my partner, Andy Cotton.”

Britta’s training has combined pool swimming, boot camp and running – up to nine times a week.

Britta is raising money for Mountbatten as well as WWSCC.

"I am swimming in memory of a friend who was cared for at the hospice last year," she said.

Isle of Wight County Press:

This is the biggest fundraiser for the charity and has raised more than £200,000 since it started in 2011. With the largest-ever fleet of swimmers taking part, this year’s total is set to be a record.

Planning starts nearly a year ahead, when Clare Griffin, WWSCC manager for 30 years, sits down with her advisers to find a date when the tides will be favourable for swimmers to cross 1.2 miles, from Hurst Castle, near Lymington, to Colwell Bay.

“I plan the event in partnership with Dave Lutas and James Batchelor, of IW Canoe Club, and the support of Freshwater Independent Lifeboat,” Clare said.

Safety cover is paramount. A fleet of experienced kayakers, plus motor boats and lifeboats, escort the swimmers.

Also swimming the Solent for the first time is Marianne Su-Yin, owner of Whistle and Hound giftshop in Freshwater.

Isle of Wight County Press: Marianne Su-Yin well kitted out for her Solent Swim.Marianne Su-Yin well kitted out for her Solent Swim.

Isle of Wight County Press: Charlie Bagot leaves Hurst Castle on a previous Solent Swim.Charlie Bagot leaves Hurst Castle on a previous Solent Swim.

She has been training for the Solent Swim since February, when the sea was at its coldest.

Marianne said: "I had never had formal swimming lessons, so I have had to learn how to swim properly without sinking.

"I swim five days a week, in the sea or pool, plus a spot of running and weight training for strength and yoga for mobility.

“Since February, I have swum 72 miles in the sea.”

London barrister Charlie Bagot has been the fastest swimmer a number of times in recent years.

“This is my sixth Solent Swim,” said Charlie. I have been the first swimmer to reach Colwell four times.

“I enjoy supporting the WWSCC — an amazing organisation, which provides great facilities and opportunities.”

Until this year, the swims have always been in the morning, with swimmers gathering at first light at Yarmouth.

They are taken across the water to Hurst by Pete Lemonius, of Needles Pleasure Cruises, on his boat, Yarmouth Rose.

They are met at Hurst by the fleet of kayakers, who have paddled from Colwell.

Isle of Wight County Press: Kayaker Martin Scotcher supporting a Solent swimmer.Kayaker Martin Scotcher supporting a Solent swimmer.

Isle of Wight County Press: Clare Griffin, with binoculars at the ready.Clare Griffin, with binoculars at the ready.

The swimmers leave in pairs, each with a kayaker.

The first swimmer arrives at Colwell about 30 minutes later, with the slowest usually reaching land within 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, at Colwell, Clare Griffin is glued to her binoculars, keeping watch on the fleet.

The initial tension soon gives way to a carnival atmosphere as swimmers are greeted with applause and helped from the water by a team of volunteers.

The final part of the event is a group photo, evidence of each swimmer’s achievement.

Pictures by Michael Dangerfield and Sue Lupton.