Swimmers and Supporters Brave the Elements for Henley Club to Pub Swim

What’s a little rain when you’re going for a swim? Hundreds of people were not put off by Saturday’s weather as they pulled on their wetsuits for the Henley Club to Pub. The ever-popular 1.5km swim starts at Henley Rowing Club and finishes at the Angel on the Bridge, where competitors are greeted on the finish line with a beer.

First to cross the line this year was Richard Stannard, from Maidenhead, in a time of 18:23. Richard is a Henley Swim regular, having taken part in all three events. He has won the Club to Pub previously, and was in fact the course record holder until last year, when he was beaten by one second by his friend, Matthew Breckon. On crossing the line, he said, “I’m interested to know the time. Matthew’s not here this year, but I thought it would be good to beat the time from last year so that I can say, ‘if you had turned up Matt, it would have been a good race’.”

Richard also completed the Classic last month — a good warm up for Saturday’s swim! He said about the Club to Pub, “It’s a fantastic event. It’s wonderful to finish and they give you a beer and a burger and we can all sit down and watch everyone come in. It’s a really good atmosphere, this one. I think it’s probably the most fun out of all of them.”

The quickest woman to finish was Amelie Bissett, from Aston Clinton Swimming Club, in a time of 21:15. Sarah Fitzgerald-Smith, from Reading Masters, was the third fastest woman overall. Reflecting on the race, she said, “It was hard because the weather conditions aren’t as nice. I did it a couple of years ago and the weather was amazing.” She said about the event, “It’s briliant. It’s really good because, the fact that you come out and you get a beer and a burger makes it a really fun event.”

Over 500 swimmers took part in the sold out event, with the option to compete with or without wetsuits. Erin Hartman and Renee Russo, who grew up swimming together in the US, travelled from London for the race. This was their first time participating in the Henley Club to Pub. Erin said, “We are trying to get into open water swimming, and this is a nice, fun, friendly, local event. I feel like with open water swimming, there’s a great spirit about it. There’s a nice comradery, and I think people find it at different stages of their lives and there’s all different levels. It’s fun, this event especially, that it ends in a pub and doesn’t have a super competitive, intense nature to it.”

Juliet Hume, Operations Director at Henley Swim, said, “I’m loving that, despite the rain, so many people have come to spectate as well as to swim. You’re going to get wet in the water any way, but the fact that so many people have turned up to support their swimming friends is just amazing. It’s an amazing atmosphere and no one is noticing the rain.”

Tickets for next year’s Club to Pub swim, which will take place on Saturday 27th July 2024, are now on sale. To sign up, visit their website. The event usually sells out within days, so be quick if you want to take on the challenge next year!

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