The race we missed, Saturday 3 April - 220 yards (200m) for the Ted and Sgt. Thomas cup

Remembering Sgt. Tommy Thomas, RAF. 1922 - 1941. With nephew Brian's club memories of across 54 years.

Thomas family memories dating back to the 1930s.  Plus some detail on the threats the club faced in the 1980s and 90s.

Sgt. Thomas Wade Thomas (Tommy), 1922 - 1941

Sgt. Thomas Wade Thomas (Tommy), 1922 - 1941

Killed on Active Service 13 September 1941

Words (mostly) borrowed from John Tierney' 2019 web report of the race

Sgt Thomas Wade Thomas (Tommy) joined the club in 1936, aged 14. Just five years later (on 13 September 1941) he died when his Blenheim bomber crashed on take-off from RAF Watton in Norfolk.  All four crew on board were killed plus one airman on the ground. Tommy was a wireless operator/air gunner and is buried in Willesden New Cemetery.  In those early years of the war the RAF incurred almost as many casualties in air accidents as in action.

At the time of the crash Tommy’s father was serving in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, his sister in the WAAF,  and his brother Ted in the Middlesex Regiment. The following Easter, 1942, the cup was donated to the club for an annual memorial race.

Ted was active at Serps and often took cine footage of the club's races in the 1970s. Ted passed away in 1984 aged 64 and is also remembered by the race.

Brian, Tommy's nephew, joined the club in April 1967, aged 11.  Brian was President from 2001-04, and Club Secretary from 2009 to 2017.  Brian also worked as a lifeguard at the Serpentine Lido in the 1980 and 1981 seasons.

Tommy won the All Clothes Race in 1938

Tommy won the All Clothes Race in 1938

June 1939

June 1939

1941

1940s and 1950s

1940s and 1950s

1943, Harry Gualdi receives the cup from Tommy's father, James.

1954, winner Petty Officer Mark Vardy, RN

1957, winner Sid Richardson. Sid was the Lido Superintendent prior to Jock Fee.

1957, my first visit

1960s

1960s

20 April 1968. I was allowed to race for the Thomas cup, and promptly won it.

Oldest and youngest swimmers - Louis Fabre (into his 80s) and me (pre teens)

One week later comedian Roy Hudd paid us a visit

One week later comedian Roy Hudd paid us a visit

1970s

1970s

Snow on the board for the start of the 1970 Christmas Day race. I'm 4th from the left.

I snuck home first to win the 1976 Peter Pan cup for the one and only time

1977, end of the Bridge to Bridge with dear old Dusty Rhodes

1979, my father Ted presenting the Wimbush Plate to Cyril Emery

1980s and 90s

1980s and 90s

All Clothes Race, 1980. I still dig out that same jacket each year.

1980 All Clothes race prize giving. Spot the young looking Sean Kelly.

Big freeze, 1987

Another big freeze, February 1991. Spot of bother with the rozzers.

1998 All Clothes Race. Bob Kelly conducting post race pep talk.

1982 campaign to stop the closure of the lake to swimming

1982 campaign to stop the closure of the lake to swimming

More problems for the Lido and the club in 1995

More problems for the Lido and the club in 1995

We were able to continue racing, with the Lido eventually reopening to the public in July 1996.

We were able to continue racing, with the Lido eventually reopening to the public in July 1996.

"Recent" years

2009 Anna Mavra, youngest winner since 1968

2013 was swum in freezing rain. The water stayed below 3c from January through to late April.

Rob (the crayfish kid) Ouldcott braved the near freezing water to win the 2013 race

The 2019 race was swum westward towards the bridge due to high winds dislodging the white buoys at the normal 110 yard turn

The 2019 race was swum westward towards the bridge due to high winds dislodging the white buoys at the normal 110 yard turn

An awkward way to start

Spectators had to get used to looking the other way

2nd, 3rd and 4th finishing. Out of shot winner Nicola Sanderson had just passed the board.

2019 winner Nicola is keeping the cup polished and sparkly ready for the 2022 race