TWO brothers braved freezing waters without wetsuits to raise money in memory of their 'superhero' sibling.

John Burke, 37, and Tom Burke, 38, carried out a swim around the Great Orme in Llandudno earlier this month and raised an impressive £4,000 for St David's Hospice.

Their brother Ed Burke died in January 14 after a battle with cancer. John - who has wife Elly and daughter Lizzie, aged four, and son Sam, aged three - and Tom wanted to raise money for the place that looked after him in the last weeks of his life.

Tom, of Old Colwyn, said the run up to the 'beast of the challenge' - called GO9K swim or Great Orme 9 Kilometre - was probably harder than the challenge itself.

North Wales Pioneer:

Tom and John Burke carried out the swim in just over two hours - instead of five!

"In the final few weeks, the organisation became almost a full-time job, with unknowns right up to the last day," he said.

"The swim itself was a matter of getting our heads down and going for it."

During the swim, Tom experienced leg cramps and a sting, possibly from a jellyfish.

He described the swim as 'breathtaking'.

"The weather was perfect and our plan for the tides was spot on," he added.

"We completed it way ahead of our projected time of up to five hours, finishing in two and a half hours. We were told that some of our friends had to almost run around Marine Drive to keep up with us.

"During the swim, the perspective you get of the scenery and cliffs as you go around is awe-inspiring.

"Coming into land at North Shore you are faced with a jagged carpet of rocks that slice your feet up, but the reaction from the large crowd, with cheers and a loudspeaker, made any issues we faced dissipate.

"People were congratulating us for ages, which was great and hugely appreciated, but deep down we just wanted to get warm."

John, of Rhos-on-Sea, and Tom were supported by friends, family, businesses and even strangers.

Ed had mentioned doing the swim years ago.

North Wales Pioneer:

John and Tom during the swim challenge - GO9K & Expedition Ed

Tom, who is married to Anna, and has son Alex, aged four, and son Dylan, aged two, said: "I think he wanted to snorkel around. He was very outgoing and loved adventure and the natural world. He would have relished this challenge."

"His wife Ruth told me that he may have been secretly planning an attempt on the English Channel too as he had been brushing up on his swimming in the past few years.

"I think if Ed had been on this swim it would have become a race as he was quite competitive too, but in a fun way."

Tom, who also has brother Henry, has previously swam the English Channel.

"One of the biggest challenges in the GO9K swim was preparing ourselves for the cold water. Ensuring we could cope with 15 and 16°C for five hours," he said.

"For John, it meant a big change in mental attitude, having been a wetsuit swimmer previously. I told John to put weight on, which he did, managing to put on an extra half stone, to help him cope with the cold. Aside from that John had cold showers every day and stopped wearing his wetsuit for his training swims early on.

"Over the course of the months leading up to the swim. John's tolerance to the cold became better and better and his self-belief increased with that.

"I was really proud of him."

During the challenge, John faced some strong currents as he rounded the Lighthouse area.

"He paused to ask his kayak supporter Gaz if he was even moving and was informed that he was still moving, just very slowly," Tom explained. 

Tom experienced cramp in both legs on the most Northerly part of the swim.

"I've never had it before to that extent," he said.

"At one point my left foot was curled up pointing to my knee and my right calf cramped so bad it made my other foot point stiffly in the other direction.

"I feel privileged that I could do this with John and I think he would say the same.

"Overcoming a lot of unknowns together, celebrating getting through it together and having all of our family, and especially our wives and children to be there with us, was both quite emotional and wonderful.

"It has definitely strengthened our bond as brothers and is something that can't ever be taken away from us.

"John probably could have finished about five or 10 minutes faster than me but he waited at the end for me, so we could come in together," Tom said.

John and Tom have a number of other challenges planned. Visit