Henley Mile Swim – Too Close to Call and Too Exciting to Miss

Henley-Mile-FinishLast Sunday saw the closest finish yet in The Henley Mile, the UK leg of the World Open Water Swimming series. The series, comparable with motor sport’s Formula 1 Championship, sees the world’s elite swimmers competing at stunning venues across five continents in a quest to be crowned Series Champion. Henley’s Royal Regatta course was the UK venue for stage 5 in the series and hosts The Henley Swim and served up a feast of competitive racing. In the women’s event South African international Michelle Webber beat Henley Classic winner and GB elite swimmer Victoria Pritchard by a mere 6 seconds. National honour was restored in the men’s event when GB World and European Junior Champion Caleb Hughes managed to hold off South African Olympian and 5 x Midmar Mile winner Chad Ho by a fingertip (photo above).                                                                                                                                                                  

One of the real pleasures of swimming is its accessibility to non-elite swimmers. The World Series elites race was combined with a wide range of events from The Mile to a 200 metre “splash and dash” for children as young as eight. Speaking at the event Henley Swim co founder Tom Kean said “It’s fantastic that families can get involved. Where else could enthusiastic swimmers and youngsters get to swim alongside World and Olympic Champions? We’re encouraging the next generation of GB swimmers. ”

Joint host for the day were Henley Swim co founder Jeremy Laming and Double World Champion and Olympic silver Medallist Keri-Anne Payne who swam the course twice and then ran a series of coaching sessions aimed at youngsters of all ages.

Record attendances at this year’s Henley Classic and Henley Mile events confirm open water Swimming as the UK’s fastest growing sport. Of the two remaining 2014 Henley Swim events the Bridge to Bridge swim from Henley to Marlow (10th August) was sold out over a month ago but to cater for burgeoning demand a new event for 2014 has been placed in the calendar and a limited number of places are still available.

The Club to Pub 1500m event takes place on 9th August and runs from Henley Rowing Club to The Angel on the Bridge Pub where swimmers can enjoy a pint of Brakespears Two Bells bitter brewed especially for the event. Book your place here www.brakspear.co.uk/swim