HUNDREDS of ironmen and women showed their mettle on Saturday as they tackled a gruelling swim from Ford to Littlehampton.
More than 400 people steeled themselves against the chill of the River Arun to complete the challenge.
Wearing wetsuits and pink swimming caps, the competitors had to thrash their way along a 3.8km (2.5-mile) from the Ship and Anchor pub to the launch ramp at Fisherman’s Quay.
The race was organised by Angmering-based events company Raw Energy Pursuits.
Mick Dicker, race director, said: “This was our biggest turn-out yet.
“We’re extremely pleased with it. The race just seems to get bigger and bigger each year.
“The support from the people of Littlehampton, the RNLI and the harbour master has been fantastic.”
Many of the competitors used the race as a final test before taking on international or national Ironmen events.
It was a furious battle to get ahead of the pack as the river race was launched.
But as the field started to stretch, the younger swimmers showed their strength, dominating many of the top spots.
About 800 people lined the riverside in Littlehampton to watch as junior swimmer Guy Giles became the first to cross the line in a blistering time of 49 min 3 sec.
He was followed by youth swimmers Chloe Pollard (54min 16sec), who was second to finish, and Yasmin Hooker (55min 40sec), who came third.
Mick added: “It’s great to see the junior swimmers doing so well.”
Mick, who alongside his business partner Nigel Burnett, has completed many Ironman events in the past, knows just what it takes to tackle the challenge.
“It’s a very challenging route for a lot of people and there is a lot of mental preparation,” he explained. “You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically.
“It’s completely different to swimming in a pool because you have to contend with the tide.”
A total of 351 swimmers completed this year’s event.
A list of results and photos of Saturday’s race is available at here.
They group’s next open water race is at the Littlehampton Waterfront Festival, on July 27, where swimmers can tackle either a one or two-mile route.