It was another one of those splendid mornings that Serpentine swimmers are fond of, blue skies and cooling Autumnal waters and a meeting with our good neighbours, the Serpentine Running Club. At stake was who was the best runner and swimmer of the two clubs.
As it happened, Serpentine SC’s Tom Elliott and Fran Lou proved to be the best, as they were individual winners of the club’s biathlon on Saturday 7 September. The annual biathlon, co-hosted with Serpentine running club, provides a chance for members of either club to prove who is the best runner and swimmer combined.
Jan's had feet in both camps
The sponsor of the event was the very sporty Jan Farmer, a woman who has had a foot firmly planted in both camps over the years.
Take your marks, get set, but why get wet?
Serpentine Running Club were looking really good after the first event, as they led the run. The lead runner form the athletic club made a beautiful dive into the water with at least a 50 yard lead over Serps Tom Elliott.
From that dive it seemed obvious to many that this athlete was a going to be a runaway winner.
But when a road runner wets his wings, strange things manifest themselves. The question regarding what happens runner’s stroke technique under water is anyone’s guess, but by the end of the 880 yard swim, Serps SC had won not only both individual races, but also the treasured Jan Farmer shield, the trophy for best club overall.
Best Club ehh?
Here's how it works
Best club overall ehh?
Brian Thomas writes as to how the trophy rules were decided this year…
The winner of team shield is decided roughly as follows:
Each club nominates a team of three competitors. Points are awarded with respect to finishing places, e.g. 6 for 1st, 5 for 2nd, 4 for 3rd, etc. The aggregate score determines the winner of the shield.
Trio of talent
Tom Owen and Mark
The winning trio who secured the Shield for the Serpentine Swimming Club were: Tom, Owen O Connell, and Mark Fabik. Mark the former Club Handicapper paying a very welcome visit from his home in Australia.
Mark Fabik, former handicapper of Serps SC
The name's Bondi
Fabik, a habitueé of warm southern hemisphere waters at Bondi surf lifesavers club, defied the crippling pain of a knee injury to heroically swim with the speed, gusto and honesty of a seasoned northern hemisphere open water Serpentine swimmer. Spectating from the bank, it was just like how Mr Fabik swam solo to France across the English Channel a few years back.
Jan supplied a well thought out and generous plethora of prizes for the winners and other competitors who were first in various categories within the race.
Additional prizes included one for William Luckhurst, the youngest finisher. Andrew Fuller managed to win the oldest competitor prize. Jan also offered up the ‘lantern rouge’ prize for the derriere and that went to Tim.
Serpentine glistening with prizes
Origin of the speeches
The event originated in 1983, - as club President Alan Mitchell elegantly said during his speech - and shortly after the running club was established, as many Serpentine Swimming Club members had also joined the running club. Initially run over 2.2 miles and swam over 440 yards the swimming distance was extended to 880 yards in 2007. The second leg of the race is swam according to English Channel rules.
Alan Mitchell our Club President
In 2016 Jan took over sponsoring the race, and the Jan Farmer Shield has been competed for since.
Jan has a long history with the Serpentine Running Club adds Alan Mitchell, having been a member for over 30 years. Her speciality was long distance endurance events and she competed in many across the globe including the iconic ‘Comrades’ race in South Africa. She Captained the Veterans Track and Field Team for 30 years. Jan was selected for the Great Britain Age Group triathlon team and in 2006 won a Bronze medal at the duathlon World championships and followed this up with a Sliver medal at the European Duathlon Championships in 2011.
Unfortunately due to ill health Jan had to give up running in 2011 . She had by then already become a much liked and respected member of the Serpentine Swimming Club where she continues to test her endurance most recently by completing a Lake Coniston swim in difficult conditions.
Jan is an agricultural specialist and for many years was an Agricultural Trade Commissioner for the Canadian Government and still acts as an advisor to Canadian Provincial Governments and agricultural businesses.
She has an expert knowledge of Birds and birdsong and happily passes long car journeys identifying birdsongs on route.
A warm thank you to Serpentine RC for taking part, and also to Jan Farmer for kindly sponsoring the prizes on the day.
Overall winner Tom Elliott
Fran Lou champion of the women's race
Team Champions Serpentine Swimming Club
Happy Birthday celebrated a day early for Squrril
Thats a fantastic birthday cake
Thanks to Alan Mitchell and Brian Thomas for the writeups.