Trio take the plunge for African adventure

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A MORPETH student braved the cold North Sea to raise money for his African adventure.

Jamie Pattison was joined by two friends, Liam and Ben Robinson, to swim the 5,500 metre gap between Bamburgh and Lindisfarne.

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 ten-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.

The participants are currently doing activities to raise £950 each in sponsorship to cover the cost of the trip and Jamie decided to have a north Northumberland adventure to help his total.

It was no easy task in 5˚C water fighting strong currents and tides 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.

College staff and a specialist instructor will oversee the Morocco trek, but the students will take control over day-to-day leadership and decision making.

They will negotiate transportation, manage food and drink supplies, undertake route planning and navigation and communicate and interact with the local population.

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