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Nairn wild swimmer plans 365 day open swimming challenge for helpline

By Donald Wilson

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wild swimmer Leanne Okane who is doing a 365 day open swimming challange for Reece's line....Picture: Callum Mackay..
wild swimmer Leanne Okane who is doing a 365 day open swimming challange for Reece's line....Picture: Callum Mackay..

A nursingauxillary who began open water swimming over four years ago and inspired many of her pals to take up the hobby is hoping to swim in the Moray Firth for 365 consecutive days come rain, hail or shine.

Forty-seven year-old Leanne Okane started sea swimming at Nairn to improve her physical and mental health.

Four years on she has the goal of swimming the English Channel.

But her immediate target is to raise funds, through a nationwide initiative promoting cold water swimming, for a local charity

Reece's Line is a charity being set up in memory of 18 year-old Reece Spark from Nairn who took his own life last year.

"Swimming the channel is still my long term aim but I'm concentrating meantime on the challenge to raise funds in memory of Reece.

"Reece's mum Doreen Cochrane is a good friend and Reece had many close friends including my son. We were devastated by his death last year and his family are about to launch a helpline in his name, similar to Mikeysline in Inverness."

Reece Spark with mum Doreen.
Reece Spark with mum Doreen.

Over £13,000 was raised after Reece's death by his friends, local businesses and family as his mum, and his dad Billy Spark to set up the helpline.

Leanne was the founder member of the Nairn Selkies, a group of nearly 40 men and women who regularly swim in the sea at Nairn.

"We are a mixed bunch. Our oldest member is 70 and with Covid everything we do now adheres to social distancing."

Last year the Selkies raised over £500 for Nairn's Team Hamish Appeal.

"One of my friends Marlene Williamson is doing a 52-week challenge which involves two swims per week. That's quite a commitment too and between us hopefully we can raise a good sum to help Reece's Line."

Despite sometimes sub-zero air temperatures Leanne has managed to fit in all her daily swims between shifts at the hospital.

"I'm looking forward to the weather getting warmer because in the summer I can swim over a mile and I can build up towards my channel swim which will have to be put on hold."

Reece's mum Doreen said: "I can't thank everyone enough for all their support and wish Leanne and Marlene the best of luck with their effort."

To support Leanne: https://gofund.me/9f8ac94c

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