NEARLY 80 intrepid swimmers made an iconic island-to-mainland crossing in Pembrokeshire this afternoon.

They were taking part in the 2.5 mile Caldey Swim which was raising money for the RNLI and Tenby Surflink.

Event organisers, Tenby Sea Swimming Association (TSSA), were relieved that weather conditions allowed the swim to go ahead after strong winds forced postponement of the original date a fortnight ago.

Swimming between Caldey Island and Tenby has been a long-standing tradition for individuals and small groups in the town.

But since 2013, the crossing has established itself on the wider open water swimming calendar under the umbrella of TSSA, which has organised Tenby’s legendary Boxing Day Swim for nearly 50 years.

“We’ve managed to hold just five Caldey Swims in seven years, so we count it as a very special swim because of its rarity,” said TSSA chairman Chris Osborne.

“We’re very grateful today for a gentle north-westerly wind which has enabled the swim to go ahead under a blue sky”.

The shoal of 79 swimmers left Caldey’s Priory Bay at 1.30pm, with the first group arriving back on Tenby’s North Beach, close to the harbour, in around an hour.

First out of the water in 59 minutes was 25-year-old Alex Brown from Cardiff, who put on a spurt in the final stretch to edge out close challengers Anthony Grant-Lewis 42, from Swansea, David Thompson of Pembroke Dock and James Hamer from Barry.

“The four of us were together in the water all the way, so it was pretty close to the finish,” said Alex. “That was a really good swim.”

Medals were presented on the beach by the Mayor of Tenby, Tony Brown and Pembrokeshire County Council chairman, Simon Hancock, who both praised the swimmers for their efforts.

Said Councillor Brown: “There have been 79 brave souls taking part in this brilliant event, which is raising money for such good causes.”

Added Councillor Hancock: “I’m full of admiration for all the swimmers – the crossing is not an easy undertaking. And many congratulations to TSSA for their organisation.”

The swim was supported by around 15 safety craft, including the Tenby all-weather lifeboat, the Haydn Miller; small boats, jetskis, kayaks and paddleboarders.

The sponsors were FBM Holidays, the Port of Milford Haven, Harbour Wealth Management, Princes Gate Spring Water and Four Seasons