Saturday's race would have been over 440 yards (400m) for the Maurice Ferris cup with prizes presented by past President and club Archivist and Historian Mike Olizar.
Plus a little bit on the Polish history of the club.
Maurice Ferris joined the club in 1926 and was club President 1968-1971
Richard Maurice Ferris joined the club in 1926. He won the 1938 Christmas Day race and the 1966 Bridge to Bridge. Maurice was club President 1968-71. He was always affectionately known as part of the "Harrow Mob", along with Alan Titmuss, Teddy Bennion, Arthur Goffrey, and Jack Baker (Alan Titmuss’s uncle). Before retirement Maurice worked at the Heinz factory in Harlesden and provided a plentiful supply of unwanted, dented tins of food to Alan Titmuss. Alan always joked that though this was great, the tins did not have any labels so he and wife Paulette would never know whether they were opening baked beans, pilchards, peaches or treacle pudding!
Maurice's 1963 Stoter cup victory made the local press
Maurice with Sid Levy and Alan Lacy at the 1964 "Breaking the Ice" book launch
Seven wise men and true gents of the club, 4th May 1968 (after the Clary Reed cup race)
Mike Olizar has been a valued club member since the "summer of love",1967
Mike joined the club in 1967, aged 20. Working in Victoria he would have a summer evening swim in the Lido on the way home. It was the Lido Superintendent and club member Jock Fee that encouraged Mike to join the club and swim all year round.
Though Mike won the 1981 Peter Pan cup, he has never won a Christmas morning race. The lake was frozen on the 25 December that year so the race was held the following February.
Mike has the honour of being one of the club's youngest Presidents (perhaps the youngest?). He had just turned 42 when elected at the 1989 AGM. Mike's professional career was in Highways Engineering. He spent many years at the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham where, amongst other things, he was responsible for crowd safety at the annual Oxford v Cambridge boat race. Mike is currently the club Archivist/Historian and is a font of historical knowledge regarding past club members and also Hyde Park.
Caledonian Polish ancestry
Mike was born in Aberdeen to a Polish father and Scottish mother. Mike writes: "When in September 1939 Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union several thousand Poles managed to escape via still neutral Roumania and Hungary to make their way to France where a Polish Government in Exile was forming and Polish forces formed to continue the fight. In June 1940 France surrendered to Germany these Poles escaped again. Picked up from the coasts of France (long after Dunkirk ) by units of the Royal Navy and merchant marine and Polish ships some 30,000 Poles, my father amongst them, made it to Britain, the last bastion of freedom. The Polish Government in Exile now based itself in London.
"Most of the rescued soldiers would be sent to form the defence of a long section of the east coast of Scotland against a potential German incursion. This is where my father was stationed in late 1940. He would be one of some 3,000 Polish soldiers who married Scots girls. As a result, I was born in Aberdeen."
1981 Peter Pan cup, swum on 27 February 1982
Mike has been (almost) ever present on Christmas mornings since 1967
No, not the All Clothes Race - after the Saturday race Mike headed off to the Trooping the Colour, June 1983
Maybe not morning dress, but Mike is always well presented for the All Clothes Race
Mike has always had strong family support (so strong they stay well wrapped up whilst daft Dad has a dip)
In March 1991 President Mike led the Serpentine's chilly participation in that year's BT Swimathon charity event
Serpentine SC has for many decades had a strong Polish connection
In November 1994 Mike put the Daily Telegraph to rights regarding the history of brown bear Voytek, a member of the Polish army (22nd Transport Company of the Polish 2nd Corps.)
For many years Mike arranged for the club's AGMs to be held just across the park at the Polish Institute
Many Polish memories
The club has, since the end of WW2, included many Poles within its membership. Mike recalled a number of them: "Stan Zoladz was an early morning swimmer from the early 1950s. He would share a 5am cup of tea and a cake with Lido Superintendent Jock Fee. Stan's wife worked in the bakery at Harrods. In those days staff were allowed to take home unsold cakes at the end of the day. Stan was captured by the Soviets in September 1939. When Germany turned on the Soviet Union in June 1941 some 70,000 Polish prisoners were released, allowed out of the Soviet Union, and were to form the Polish 2 Corps which fought in the Italian Campaign at Monte Cassino. Wacek (pronounced Vatsek) a housekeeper just to the south of Hyde Park was another early morning swimmer. He was in the Polish underground during the War."
Many of our current, longer term, members will recall Chester Kozlowski, who continued to swim well into the 1990s. Chester had served in one of the RAF's 14 Polish squadrons during WW2, flying many missions in Wellington bombers. Prior to escaping the Nazis Chester competed for Poland in the Olympic games (1928 and 1932?), giving Tarzan (aka Johnny Weissmuller) a good run (or should I say swim) for his money.