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Community / Sea swimmer aims to rack up 200km this winter in aid of RNLI

Emma Williamson swimming recently in Fair Isle.

AN INTREPID sea swimmer has set herself the challenge of covering 200km in Shetland’s waters from October to April in aid of the RNLI.

Emma Williamson said she will be taking to the open water in a swimming costume, in all weathers, across all parts of Shetland.

It coincides with the RNLI lifeboat charity celebrating its 200th anniversary next year.

The fundraising began in October – the month when the Lerwick Lifeboat crew were sent out on a gruelling 18-hour shift in rough weather as they towed a Danish fishing boat east of Shetland to safety.

Lifeboat out for 18 hours to tow Danish fishing boat to safety

Most of the RNLI crew on the lifeboats are volunteers who give up their time to help those at sea.

Williamson said she has covered around 17km so far, with yesterday (Tuesday) her coldest dip in the sea during the challenge so far.

She aims to cover around one kilometre a day, as the temperature limits the time the swimmer can spend in the water.

The nurse has already racked in swims in the sea in locations such as Fair Isle and St Ninian’s.

She said she began sea swimming regularly around 15 years ago. People can keep up to date with her sea-going experiences, including underwater footage, on Instagram.

“It’s a bit different, it’s challenging,” she said.

“And it brings you to lots of different areas in Shetland. It’s not just the swimming as well, it makes you go out walking too.”

Williamson said given that she is in the sea a lot, her family has links to boat building and that she sadly lost two uncles to drowning, the RNLI is a fitting cause.

She likened the charity to A&E in hospital, where she works – “when you need them, you really need them”.

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Working a 12-hour shift, and the darker nights, means though that opportunities for sea swimming are limited – with Williamson tending to go out in the mornings.

She said her secret to recovering from a cold swim in the sea is an iced fruitcake and some tea – either biscuit tea, or chilli chai.

People can donate to the fundraiser here.

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