A HORNBY woman battled against the elements – as well as buzzards and otters – to swim the length of the River Lune for charity.
Jane Harrison, 60, swam from the river’s source at Tebay in Cumbria to its mouth at Sunderland Point, in a life-changing challenge that saw her cover a 50 mile distance over 18 days.
Jane, who is a coach at Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Club, has so far raised £7,000 for the North West Air Ambulance, with more money still to be collected.
“It was one of the best adventures of my life,” Jane said. “It was hard work and sometimes emotional but it was really incredible.
“I met all sorts of amazing people along the way who were very supportive and kind.
“Strangers would spend hours showing me their part of the river and farmers came down to cheer me on.
“The support I have had has been just unbelievable.
“I haven’t really had any down sides; it has been an amazing experience to go through.”
However, Jane did suffer from hypothermia most days as well as sciatica.
“I learned very quickly to get out of my wetsuit and into some warm clothes and have a warm drink,” she said.
At one stage, Jane also had to ward off a buzzard which threatened to attack her as she swam – and also came face to face with an otter.
“I was just near the Tebay Crook o’Lune Bridge, it was quite flooded and I was just floating in about 2ft of water, when I saw this large bird rise up from the bank in front of me,” she said.
“It turned around and came bombing down towards me but luckily I was able to stand up and I waved my arms like mad and it just swerved away at the last minute.
“The day I swam from Hornby to Arkholme I saw an otter; I don’t know who was the more scared out of us both!”
However, Jane wasn’t affected by a sewage leak which hit the Lune near Lancaster a couple of months ago.
“I would like to thank United Utilities for the perfect water,” she said. “I was perfectly healthy the whole way.”
Jane was accompanied along the route by her brother-in-law John, who walked along the river bank the whole way.
And she said the adventure helped to turn her life around.
“It has just been an amazing journey,” she said. “Last March I was 14 stone, I was going through a divorce and moving house and job and I was depressed.
“I have now lost three stone and feel amazing both mentally and physically. Now I want to keep the momentum going.
“This shows people that you can get through to the other side from a really black place.”
Jane, who featured in Yours magazine on July 10, has also recently taken part in the Great North Swim in Windermere and the Manchester Swim in Salford, and will also be doing a swim in Scotland next month.
She is aiming to reach 100 miles of swimming by the end of October.
You can still sponsor Jane by going to www.justgiving.com/swimthelune.