Close to 500 swimmers were up in the small hours for the annual Selkie Henley Classic on 25th June. Now in its 19th year, the event has become an iconic diary fixture for many, who come back year on year to swim the 2.1km Henley Royal Regatta Course as the sun is rising.
Due to the recent heatwave, competitors enjoyed a water temperature of 21 degrees C for their early morning swim, with the first wave of swimmers setting of at 4.10am, as a green laser lit up the course.
The Classic welcomes wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers, juniors from the age of 14 and has categories for Schools and even a Varsity challenge. This year, over 100 swimmers camped on the bank of the Thames prior to the event.
The fastest female swimmer overall was Vicky Cunningham, swimming in the Open 18-44 wetsuit category and back for her fifth Classic, with an incredible time of 30.02 mins, and her fifth consecutive win. Richard Stannard from FastWetsuits took the crown for the men overall, with a swim time of 28.32 mins, swimming in the Masters 45-54 Wetsuit category.
Junior swimmer Felix Brockdorff from Churcher’s College put in an amazing performance as the fastest junior with a time of 30.12 mins. The fastest female junior was Lizzy Crudgington with a time of 33.24 mins. The Oxford University team returned home again with the varsity shield, beating Cambridge by under a minute in the team’s cumulative swim time.
Henley Resident, Laura Reineke, who is one of the ‘Henley Mermaids’ said “It was my fifth Henley Classic and it never fails to delight. Despite the very early start and a heavy training swim preparing for my English Channel solo in August the day before, I was astonished I won a silver medal in my age group! I’ll certainly be back for my 6th, 7th, 8th…!”
Swimmer Max Lowe said, “Thanks for a great event again, the conditions were perfect and the sun coming up over the course made the early start worthwhile. See you next year for my fifth Classic!”
Stan Mullin from Irvine, California sai,d “Back in the day, I was a rower, and never got to row on the Henley Course. I’m here on holiday now for the Regatta, and so have come back to swim it instead. This event is amazing!”
Henley Swim Operations Director Juliet Hume said, “The conditions were perfect on Sunday, with a stunning sunrise, warm water and not too much of a flow. We have had incredible feedback following the event, so many kind comments which makes the sleepless weekend completely worthwhile! A massive shout out to our team of tireless volunteers who were willing to arrive at 2am on a Sunday.”
The Selkie Henley Classic 2024 will take place at dawn on Sunday 30th June. Registration opens soon at www.henleyswim.com