PIRATES and baby sharks rowed across Coate Water's lake as the Swindon Phoenix Rotary Club's Dragon Boat Race returned.

Amateur rowers and returning regulars from 13 teams competed for gold, silver and bronze medals in three heats before the fastest three teams raced again for a chance to receive the ornate dragon and crystal glass winners' trophies.

Jack Edmonds and Adrian Mallett of the pirate-themed Nationwide Nauticals joined their security operations and reception colleagues two days before the race began to ensure the team was big enough to compete.

Jack said: "We've never done this before but as long as we raise money for Prospect Hospice it does not matter if we win - though we hope we manage to finish!

"It's good fun and we dressed up for the race so we were mentally prepared for it - physically, less so..."

Staff from independent Swindon school for young people aged 16 to 25 with special needs Horizons College teamed up to try something new.

Vice principal Catherine Long said: "We wanted to do something different than just having another quiz to raise money, be part of the community and get our name out there.

"At a staff forum, admin staff member Karen Johnstone suggested that this would be really good for team-building and we like a challenge, though our preparation was limited.

"Our students did a bikeathon to raise money for a minibus - we wore their team t-shirts and some of them watched us row."

More experienced teams from the Swindon Triathlon Club, Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the Pathfinders charity also took part.

Pathfinders chairwoman Jean Clifford said: "This was our fourth time - we've come as Noah's Ark, 'Where's Wally?', cowboys and Indians and now baby sharks. We always try to win the fancy dress competition.

"We raised money to take young people with disabilities on a trip to to Northern Ireland and many of our members and friends came along to support us."

A funfair full of attractions on the other side of the lake, including a bouncy castle, tea cup rides, sumo wrestling suits and archery, entertained families.