The organisers of the Selkie Henley Classic, the sunrise open water swim on the Henley Regatta rowing course, have already opened entries for next year and they’re holding this year’s prices – but only until Monday 8 July.
The 2019 event took place last Sunday morning, 30 June, and was the 15th edition of the race in its modern format. Swimming races on this stretch of the Thames date back to at least 1892 and trophies from those days, which are now displayed in the Henley River and Rowing Museum, are engraved each year with the winners’ names from the new event.
The 2.1km upstream swim takes place annually the weekend before the Henley Royal Regatta. The route gives swimmers the chance to take on the exact course the rowers will follow some days later; a tradition that’s taken place for decades. Swimmers are led to the start along the tow path in a torch light procession while a green laser beams up the river pointing the way to finish, in a perfect straight line along the boomed rowing course.
It is perhaps no surprise that the Henley Swim founders, Jeremy Laming and Tom Kean, were in fact rowers themselves and it made perfect sense for them to resurrect the swimming tradition and the chance to complete the rowing course in the water instead of on top of it. The event on Sunday also attracted many rowers including Jamie Kirkwood from Putney who rowed for Team GB from 2008-2016. This year was his first chance to swim the course, he says. “I’ve seen them swim for years but I have always been rowing, it’s been a dream to swim it for years.”
Many swimmers return every year. This year, Sue Nadin became the first female to complete the swim 10 times. “It’s the most invigorating thing you can possibly do,” she says.
This year’s winners were:
Vicky Cunningham (Reading): 29 minutes and 34 seconds (defending champion from 2018)
Tom Brew (Devon): 27 minutes and 40 seconds beating last year’s winning time of 28 minutes 41 seconds by Henry Plewes who came in 4th this year with 28 minutes 50 second
Full results are available here.
For details of next year’s race and early bird entry see here.