Dangerous swim over river mouth

Matt Clarke pictured during the Humber swim
Matt Clarke pictured during the Humber swim

An ‘average swimmer’ has dodged strong currents and blinding sea mists to complete a gruelling swim across the mouth of the Humber estuary.

Matt Clarke endured the seven-mile swim from Spurn point to Cleethorpes beach - a challenge he described as both physical and mental.

The 47 year-old, who is head of IT at Boston Borough Council, has previously completed the shorter Humber river swim and a Thames swim, but said this was ‘an abitious step for an average swimmer’ like himself.

“Those events gave me the confidence to think I had it in me to take on the Humber estuary and everything tidal waters and a busy shipping channel might present to me,” he said.

He enlisted the help of the ‘Humber King’ Pete Winchester MBE, who has taken on the estuary swim 70 times, raising thousands for charity. Pete and his boat crew provided guidance along the swim.

The first 40 minutes were ‘a doddle’ according to Matt, until, in his own words, ‘Mother Nature had another idea’.

“The tide was about to turn, and it almost scuppered my attempt with a vicious 5 knot beast,” said Matt. “The team on the boat received notice of the unusually strong tide on the radio and I could sense an urgency in Pete’s voice when he said to me ‘you know I said you’d have to work hard for a quarter of a mile? Well this is it. Dig deep’.”

Such was the difficulty of swimming against the tide that Pete and the team on the boat even thought Matt was going backwards at one point - and there was real concern he would not complete the swim.

“For the next 30 minutes I swam harder than I have ever swum in my life - but I barely moved,” said Matt.

He finally reached a point where he could swim with the tide - and finally made it to the shore at a time of four hours two minutes.

His efforts raised £320 for Parkinsons UK.