AS THE sun shone on a sandy beach in Swindon, families feeding the ducks at Coate Water could have thought they were on a tropical holiday.

In fact, the fine white sand is the scene for one of the town's sporting events this summer.

Launching Challenge Swindon, a festival of sport, at Coate Water, professional volleyball player Lucy Boulton tried out the town's pitch.

"I think this is a great chance to give people the opportunity to come and play," she said.

"The pitch may not be Olympic standard, but it is a start. Events like this show that the sport is growing. Just a few years ago you would never have seen facilities like this. Kids especially can try new sports which they may not have tried before."

Beach volleyball is just one of the events, which also include pitch and putt, angling and table football, taking place on the weekend of May 31 and June 1.

Since last year's Challenge Swindon, the outdoor volleyball pitch has become a permanent feature at Coate Water, and is used by Wootton Bassett volleyball team for their training.

Wootton Bassett player Cinzia Craighero had the chance to play against GB star Lucy during the launch event. She said: "It is really good having this here so we can come and play in the summer. There are not many places with outdoor pitches in England."

Underwear firm Triumph is sponsoring the council-organised weekend. The firm's Lorna Sharps said: "We are asking the people of Swindon to get active and involved in sport. And when you are playing sports you need the right clothing.

"So we will be giving women taking part in Challenge Swindon our award-winning sports bras.

"We'll also be entering teams in quite a few events and have already started recruiting people for it."

The council's cabinet member for leisure, Coun Justin Tomlinson, said he was looking forward to the event. "Like last year I'm going to be competing in the go-karting. We had a team of councillors, and we came second from last," he said.

"It is going to be lots of fun for families and people of all ages and there really are activities that everyone can take part in whatever their ability.

"This year's event follows on from last year's extremely successful Challenge Swindon and the Corporate Games the year before that."

Challenge Swindon is signing up teams now. To enter, call 01793 511033 or visit