A 72-YEAR-OLD who swims a length of Ilfracombe pool for each year he has been alive on his birthday was disappointed this year because there was no water in the pool.
Tony Holland went to the pool to tackle the one-and-a-half mile swim on his 72nd birthday, only to find an unexpected technical problem had caused all the water to drain away.
Tony said: “The swim has been getting harder and harder every year but I’ve managed it - until today.”
He said he could barely believe the unfortunate coincidence, adding: “I thought they were winding me up.
“This has never happened before to my knowledge.”
Tony had trained for two months and completed a 48-length warm-up swim.
He arrived “in a confident mood” early on Thursday morning, only to have his run of successful birthday swims brought to an sudden halt.
He said: “It’s a disaster.
“I have been accused by friends of pulling the plug on purpose so that I didn’t have to do the swim and have been told that I should have walked the 72 lengths instead.”
North Devon Council contracts delivery manager Mark Kentell said the pool would be closed “until further notice”.
He said: “Unfortunately, the pool water drained away throughout the afternoon and overnight.
“We believe this may have been caused by a major failure of the pipe work.”
For the first time since he started the tradition, Tony had secured more than £450 from sponsors to fund the Musical Memories group which he runs with his wife.
The group provides singing activities for people with dementia and those who support them.
Tony said: “The sponsorship of my swim – whenever the leak is plugged and the pool refilled – will be enough to cover the very reasonable hire charges for the hall for next year.”
Tony’s Musical Memories group takes place on the first and third Tuesday of every month at the Vision Centre on Slade Valley Road, Ilfracombe.
People with dementia and their carers who are interested in joining can call Tony on 01271 883989.