Joel Winter from Reading Swimming Club finally won the Club to Pub swim on Saturday night after coming second twice in the last 2 years in a time of 18 mins 50 secs.
Afterwards Joel said, “This is very sweet for me. The beer is definitely going to taste sweeter. Matt McQuillan who came second gave me a right old run for the money in the first half of the race. He had a better line going up the stream – he hugged the bank and kept out of the stream. Unfortunately I was in the stream. When I came around the buoys behind him we had a bit of ding dong battle just around the buoys and then I managed to pull away.”
The 1.5km course starts at Henley Rowing Club, goes upstream towards Marsh Lock and then back down stream to the finish at Angel on the Bridge pub. This is an open event, with elite and recreational swimmers presented with a bottle of specially brewed ‘Two Bells’ Brakspear beer as a reward along with a medal which doubled up as a bottle opener. The beer name, ‘Two Bells’ was the challenge for the swimmers to complete the course between the 7 o’clock bells from St Mary’s Church and the 8 o’clock ones. Just over 550 swimmers completed the course with the river temperature at 19◦C.
Robyn Le Friec from Guernsey was the first woman across the finish line in 19 minutes 29 secs and 4th overall. Robyn said, “Some of the guys that I swim with in London wanted to do the swim and convinced me to enter too. It’s bit unexpected to be the first women to be honest. It’s really tough but really good fun.”
Jamie Reed from Henley, did the swim for the first time last year. He said, “It didn’t go as well as last year as I haven’t done as much training and I did the Classic this year. I just love the event as it’s nice to come out spend some time with friends and have the family down to watch.”
Emma Sweet from Brakspear who sponsor the event said, “We were so lucky with the weather, it really helped make it a great event and all the swimmers seemed to be very appreciative of their well-earned beer at the end!”
The event was supporting Sue Ryder.
Tom Kean, co-founder of Henley Swim said, “The Club to Pub event had sold out by February, making a place in the 2019 swim a hot ticket. The weather and river temperature made for perfect swimming conditions, but after swimming 1.5km each and every swimmer deserved their Brakspear beer and bottle opening medal, and of course their handshake from the Mayor of Henley.
We were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque for £900 from swimmer entries to Michael Ruiz representing Sue Ryder, and expect to see this total increase significantly when the other fundraising elements are added in.”