TWO South Tyneside grandfathers braved the waves of the North Sea to accomplish a long-held dream of swimming from pier to pier.
Lifeguard Ron Hodgson and former lifeguard Ron Charlton took to the water to embark on a personal challenge testing their endurance and abilities.
The pair, who are both keen open-water swimmers, went from South Shields pier to Roker pier covering a distance of 7.25 miles – simply because they believed it hadn’t been done before.
Mr Hodgson, 51, from Fellside, and Mr Charlton, 55, a self-employed builder from Watson Avenue, both South Shields, underwent 12 weeks of training before taking part in the swim.
They were accompanied along the route by four canoeists and alerted the Coastguard and the RNLI of their venture.
Mr Hodgson said: “We had looked into it and we couldn’t find anything on the internet to say anyone had done this before, so we decided to go for it.
“We both do a lot of deep-sea swimming and have taken part in a few swimming events, including the Great North Swim, and this was the next big challenge – the pier to pier.
“We had never swam this kind of distance before and we just wanted to see if we could do it.”
During their training, the pair had to endure choppy seas and big swells to ensure they were ready to face whatever challenges that lay ahead.
The men, who swam a mile-and-a-half away from the coast, completed the test of endurance in 3.5 hours.
They were met by their families as they got out of the sea at Roker Pier.
Mr Hodgson added: “The whole experience was just unbelievable. We were both just over the moon when we completed it, and with the time we did it in as well.
“We’d swam half the course in the training and thought it would take us about four to five hours to do it, so we were really pleased with the 3.5 hours.
“To have our family there to meet us was great. We’re both just thrilled that we were able to do it. Really enjoyed every minute of it, but I don’t think we’ll do it again.”