The 2020 Selkie Henley Classic has partnered with Starlight Children’s Foundation to raise funds to help preserve childhood for seriously ill children. The upstream 2.1km open water swim is held on the famous Henley Royal Regatta course on 28 June, the weekend before the regatta starts. Most notably, the event begins at dawn as the first waves set off shortly after 4am.
This year swimmers will be encouraged to combine their swim challenge with a fundraising one. The partnership will see the offer of free charity places for this bucket list event, and other support and inspiration for swimmers from the charity.
Starlight is the national children’s charity that exists to preserve childhood throughout serious illness. This is done through hospital play and distraction services, wish granting and Starlight Escapes. Access to play during serious illness is especially important as a contributor to successful treatment and healthy development. It enables children to grow and to experience childhood as it should be. Granting wishes of a lifetime give children a choice at a time many of their other choices have been taken away.
Swimmers who take on this charity challenge will be helping Starlight to reach thousands of children in and out of hospital, allowing them and their families to escape the routine and reality of treatment. Sam Butler, Head of Public Fundraising, Starlight Children’s Foundation explains, “We are extremely excited to be partnering with the Selkie Henley Classic swim. There is something really magical about arriving under starlight, getting into the Thames as the sun rises, swimming and raising money for Starlight! This event offers fundraisers and athletes a different and exciting challenge, while supporting work that has a huge and positive impact on the families’ we work with.”
Open water swimming events in the Thames at Henley date back to 1892 . This tradition has been kept alive as swimmers of this world-renowned race follow in the footsteps of generations of swimmers. Nowadays swimmers swarm from across the world to take part in this iconic event that promises lifelong memories and ticks off a bucket list challenge. One swimmer enthused: “There is something quite exciting and a little bit naughty about getting in the Thames at 4am in torch light knowing thousands have done this before throughout the century.”