Three generations of Yorkshire family in Great North Swim for mental health charity

A family of open water swimmers have braved a dip into cold waters in the north of England to raise funds to help with mental health in the UK.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 10:38 am

An adventurous family of open water swimmers from Leeds have braved cold water temperatures, clad in their swimming costumes, to raise money and awareness for mental health charity Mind.

Each year the Great North Swim attracts thousands of people to Windermere in the Lake District.

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Pictured, left to right: Isla, with her grandmother Jan Van Loo. and mother Indea Beck. The adventurous trio completed the Great North swim recently for the mental health charity MIND. Photo credit: Submitted picture

Among the participants from Britain's biggest annual open swimming event last weekend was first-time cold water swimmer eight-year-old Isla, from Pudsey, who was joined by grandmother Jan Van Loo, 67, and her parents Indea and Steve Beck.

The determined youngster, who attends Pudsey Primrose Hill primary school, took up open-water swimming specifically for the challenge after being inspired by her grandmother.

Jan, who lives in Hull, has previously completed the Relay Channel Swim - which covers 22 miles between the UK and France and at the World Swimming World Championships in 2016 where she took part Siberian lake swim - swimming in a carved out section of the lake covered in ice, in Tyumen, Russia.

Isla said: "'l wanted to follow in Nanna’s footsteps... and also help towards the great work that the Mind charity to help the people that need it and raising money for them encouraged us as a family to push hard and swim well."

Pictured, Steve and Indea Beck, who are based in Pudsey, Leeds. Photo credit: Submitted picture

Steve,38, added the family consider the charity "close to their hearts" due to friends they have lost to suicide.

"The work Mind doe is amazing and they constantly need donations and our support to carry out the vital work they do," he said.

The Great North Swim, which returned this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, allows for different ages and abilities with distances from 250 metres to 10 kilometres.

Competing in the 250m distance Isla, who has a younger sister named Olive, completed the distance in a time of 11 minutes and 17 seconds while grandmother Jan completed the same course in 12m 12s as well as finishing a mile distance course in just under an hour.

Inspirational Isla Beck (left) with her grandmother Jan Van Loo. The pair are keen open water swimmers who recently completed the Great North Swim. Photo credit: Submitted picture

Indea, 38, a communications expert who works in Leeds, completed the mile in 41m 45s and Steve, an IT professional originally from South Africa, finished with a time of 44m 07s.

Building up to the event Isla and the family trained in April and May at Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, in Pocklington, swimming in water around 10 degrees celsius.

Steve said: "The funny side of it is that especially while training, Indea, Isla and I get out and it takes a while to thaw out because our hands, faces and feet are numb, while Nanna looks and acts like she has just got out the bath and she doesn't even wear a wetsuit, while on the other are suited and booted."

Isla, who is also a keen footballer, and plays for Leeds City Juniors female team, has so far raised more than £750 for the charity Mind and she said after her first experience in the event she is planning on competing next year with her family.

Pictured Steve Beck (left) with daughter Isla. The pair took part in the Great North Swim, which returned this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, allows for different ages and abilities with distances from 250m to 10k. Photo credit: Submitted picture

"Nanna started all this off and we'll keep it going," Isla said.

This year due to Covid precautions in place the Great North Swim looked a little different - this included open-air changing, sanitising stations and swimmer-only zones at the start and finish.

While social distancing requirements meant supporters had to watch a big screen to see family members taking part.

Event director Colin Murphy said he hoped the swim would act as "a beacon on the road to recovery for the Lake District".

To donate to Isla and her family and Mind for the Great North Swim you can donate here.

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