A SWIMMER from North Tyneside is hoping to make a splash for charity by organising his very own version of the Great North Run.
Instead of joining 54,000 runners on the road from Newcastle to South Shields in September, Tony Greener will be plunging into the Tyne for a 10-mile swim from the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to South Tyneside’s Littlehaven Beach.
The 52-year-old, of Union Street in North Shields, is raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
He will be joined by 11 other swimmers, including Heaton’s Neil Bowers, captain of the British water polo team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and English Channel solo swimmer Colin Hill, from Hexham.
Another North Tynesider, Tom Holland, a doctor, of Cullercoats, will also be among the daring dozen.
The swimmers have been getting ready by holding practice sessions in the Tyne and recently swam from Newburn to the millennium bridge.
Tony, a marine technical manager for the shipping company Maersk Line in Newcastle, said: “I have done the run a few times, and that’s where the idea of a Great North Swim came from.
“I believe this is the first time anyone has ever swum the river.
“There are a lot of interesting people taking part in the race, and we’re looking forward to it.
“We have worked closely with the Port of Tyne, who are supporting us, and the Environment Agency.
“The water quality and cleanliness is good, and we have managed it around shipping and river traffic.
“The swim could take three hours, and I think it’s tougher than the run, but it’s for a very good cause, and if it’s a success, even more people could take part next year.
“We hope to boost our sport of open water swimming and, by drawing attention to the Tyne’s clean water, promote one of the country’s best salmon rivers.
“We’re looking forward to it.”
The swim starts at 8am on Sunday, September 18, the day of the run, and will finish around noon.
It will be followed by a reception at South Shields Sailing Club in the town’s River Drive.
The Port of Tyne will provide safety kayakers and rescue boats on the day of the event.
To sponsor Tony, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/tyneswimteam