At 21 miles, the Two-Way Windermere is the longest British Long Distance Swimming Association event of 2015. The event is held every two years – alternating with the even more challenging Loch Lomond.
Last year only two out of nine swimmers completed Loch Lomond. Happily, the success rate for Windermere this year was much higher. Of a record 13 entries, 11 swimmers assembled their crew on the start line at 5.30pm on 1 August for the overnight swim from Waterhead. Of those 11 swimmers, only one didn’t complete the swim.
The swim is considered to be at least as tough as the Channel. The course is a length of the lake, turn round a buoy at Fell Foot, then swim back. Simple. The entry requirements mirror those for a Channel swim: a six hour swim in water 16 degrees Celsius or under within 30 months of the swim, without a wetsuit. True to form, the water temperature of Windermere was around 16 degrees, or slightly lower, but, according to event organiser Mark Sheridan, all the swimmers seemed to cope well with the temperature.
“There was one retirement with Kevin Welsh calling it a day (or night in this case) 1.5 miles before the turn,” said Sheridan. “Andre Roberts was the first swimmer reported as turning round the turn-buoy at Fell Foot closely followed by Jai Evans and Wendy Figures not far behind.”
Ideal conditions promised record breaking swims. The sky remained overcast which meant that the air retained its warmth and any wind that was left dropped to zero. First to exit the water, at 4am, was Rebecca Lewis in 8 hours 33 mins, smashing not only her own ladies’ record by 14 minutes but the men’s record too. The previous records had stood since 2005 and 2007 respectively.
Sabrina Wiedmer recorded the second fastest time of the night taking second in the women’s event closely followed by Wendy Figures who took third. Of the two male competitors, Jai Evans claimed the Gents’ Trophy over Andre Roberts.
The loudest cheer went to Jo Blackburn who completed her third consecutive Two-Way Windermere Championships. Jo is featured in the current issue of H2Open Magazine as our open water hero. Jane Bell was awarded the endurance award for her 16 hours and 6 minutes swim.
All achievements were celebrated at the Brown Horse at Winster where prizes included a well-deserved dinner, bed and breakfast for the winners. Beer was provided by brew-master Gez Lyon, who was the 40th person in history to swim Loch Lomond.
The next Two-Way Windermere Championships takes place at full moon at the beginning of August 2017.