The Alan Titmuss cup - 440 yards in celebration of a club giant and massively influential member.

A damp but enjoyable morning. Alan Mitchell still cannot make his presidential speech, so here's a stab at a pictorial substitute.

First home was George Cselko, followed by Ian MacEachern and James Lythe.

Water 13.5c.  Air 12.5c.

Socially distanced cup presentation by Justin Fahy, an honorary Titmuss for the morning.

Alan Titmuss, 1936- 2009.

Alan became a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club in 1950 aged 13 having been introduced to the club by his uncle, Sid Baker.  On leaving school he was apprenticed as a bookbinder.  When called up for National Service he was advised by a club member serving in the Royal Navy to opt for the Royal Marines “rather than spend two years square bashing and peeling spuds in some other unit”.  After leaving the Marines Alan worked in local authority building departments and studied his way to being a fully qualified architect (RIBA).  Alan took on the role of club Secretary and Treasurer in 1964, on the retirement of Bill Reed.  Alan served as President from 1986 to 1989 and also performed the role of Hon. Handicapper during the mid-2000s. 

Those who knew Alan will not just remember him as the life and soul of the club, but also its driving motor and energy.  You name it he was involved in it.  In the early 1980s, and again in the 1990s, when swimming in the Serpentine was threatened with closure due to budget pressures on The Royal Parks (the Health and Safety angle was always a red herring and an easy diversion) it was Alan that led the campaign and went on prime time national television (Nationwide) to be interviewed.

Outside of the club Alan competed in judo and was also a swim coach in the 1960s.  Alan followed Arsenal in his early years, going to Highbury with his uncle and father in the late 1940s and1950s.  In later life he became a season ticket holder at QPR, being "converted" by friend and work colleague Chris Hatcher, who Alan introduced to the club.  For Alan, following the Arsenal was relegated to an armchair distraction.  Alan held his first season ticket at Loftus Road in 1981 and was a regular for many years.

 Alan always retained his love of bookbinding, which he continued to practice whilst working as an architect.  On retirement from the London Borough of Hillingdon Architects Department Alan taught bookbinding at evening classes.  A true labour of love.

In the 1980s and 90s Alan organised skiing holidays for club members, some of whom survived the experience and are still with us today: Alan Nash, Norman and Lorraine Jones, Chris Hatcher and Brian Thomas.  Alan learnt to ski whilst in the Royal Marines, in Cyprus of all places (Mount Troodos).  Alan said this involved walking up the mountain in full kit, strapping on what were known as “NATO planks” to his commando boots, and somehow getting down in one piece!

Alan's middle grandson, Matthew, joined the club and raced with us between 2011 and 2013 when getting his fitness and "winter resilience" up to scratch prior to joining the army (Royal Tank Regiment).

Alan was introduced to the club by his uncle, Jack Baker.

Alan was introduced to the club by his uncle, Jack Baker.

Bridge to Bridge start, 1949. Jack Baker is third from the left (wearing glasses). A young, twenty something Alan Lacy is also in shot.

George Cselko retained the cup: he won it in 2019 and had the honour of keeping it shiny and sparkly during 2020. Justin Fahy made a socially distanced presentation.

George Cselko retained the cup: he won it in 2019 and had the honour of keeping it shiny and sparkly during 2020.  Justin Fahy made a socially distanced presentation.

Justin Fahy, a close family friend and long term club member, became an honorary Titmuss for the morning

Justin won the 1993 Christmas Day race

Justin won the 1993 Christmas Day race

Justin, with his 1993 Peter Pan cup

Justin, with his 1993 Peter Pan cup

15 May 2021, handicapper's clock under way. Dani Lobo ably assisted by club captain Deirdre Ward.

15 May 2021, handicapper's clock under way.  Dani Lobo ably assisted by club captain Deirdre Ward.

Cheeks puffed, concentrating on the task ahead

Cheeks puffed, concentrating on the task ahead

Nice hat, shame about the swimmer

Nice hat, shame about the swimmer

To swim with a smile and a laugh is not compulsory, but it helps

To swim with a smile and a laugh is not compulsory, but it helps

Final turn made, heading for home

Final turn made, heading for home

They counted them out and they counted them in

They counted them out and they counted them in

Post race analysis, plus discussion regarding cakes

Post race analysis, plus discussion regarding cakes

Ian MacEachern taking-in the glory of a close second place

Ian MacEachern taking-in the glory of a close second place

Many thanks to Mike Harris and Anthony Wood for the morning's photos

Alan won the 1963 Peter Pan cup. The race was held on 4 January 1964 - the lake was frozen on Christmas morning.

Alan won the 1963 Peter Pan cup.  The race was held on 4 January 1964 -  the lake was frozen on Christmas morning.

Alan had a good record on Christmas mornings. He was second in his first race in 1950, then won the 1963, 1978, 1989, 1999 and 2006 races. So apart from the 50's, he won it during every decade of his membership.

Alan had a good record on Christmas mornings.  He was second in his first race in 1950, then won the 1963, 1978, 1989, 1999 and 2006 races.  So apart from the 50's, he won it during every decade of his membership.

Start of the 1963 Christmas race, 10 days late on 4 January 1964.

Start of the 1963 Christmas race, 10 days late on 4 January 1964.

25 December 1963. Unable to race, club members lined-up on the board for a club photo before the "optional" dip in a hole in the ice.

25 December 1963.  Unable to race, club members lined-up on the board for a club photo before the

To celebrate the club centenary a "Victorian dress" race was held 1 August 1964. It made the evening papers.

To celebrate the club centenary a

Alan second from the left, next to Frank Simms. Frank was one of the club handicappers during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Alan checking his mark.

Alan's border collie, Jess, was ever-present during the 1980s. Seen here guarding the changing room.

Alan's border collie, Jess, was ever-present during the 1980s.  Seen here guarding the changing room.

Alan would arrive early and run around the lake with Jess before the Saturday race

Swimming in the Serpentine was under threat in 1982. Alan led the campaign to keep us open.

Swimming in the Serpentine was under threat in 1982.  Alan led the campaign to keep us open.

Letters were written, Ministers were lobbied.

Letters were written, Ministers were lobbied.

Eventually that nice Mr Heseltine (Secretary of State for the Environment) relented and the Lido is still there.

Keep it in the family - in the mid 1980s Alan's brother-in-law George Boyd was our handicapper.

Keep it in the family -  in the mid 1980s Alan's brother-in-law George Boyd was our handicapper.

George Boyd, 1987. Alan's sister Susan watching on.

Alan took on the handicapper role himself in the mid 2000s

Alan took on the handicapper role himself in the mid 2000s

January 1987 saw a bit of a cold snap

January 1987 saw a bit of a cold snap

Summer 1987, but members sartorially dressed for winter

Summer 1987, but members sartorially dressed for winter

The All Clothes Race

Alan had some very successful Christmas races, winning the Peter Pan cup in 1963, 1978, 1989, 1999 and 2006

Alan had some very successful Christmas races, winning the Peter Pan cup in 1963, 1978, 1989, 1999 and 2006

1989 winner

1989, waiting for the call of piper and the start of the race

1999, a pre Millennium Christmas win

1999, a pre Millennium Christmas win

In 1984 Alan fancied his chances as the Christmas piper. Lucky for us the lesson did not go well.

In 1984 Alan fancied his chances as the Christmas piper.  Lucky for us the lesson did not go well.

Alan with Mario McClarnon

The early 1990s again saw a threat to swimming in the Lido, and again Alan led the campaign to ensure the club could still swim and race.

The early 1990s again saw a threat to swimming in the Lido, and again Alan led the campaign to ensure the club could still swim and race.

Following "a public outcry" (i.e. Alan got his teeth into it) The Royal Parks agreed to invest in the Lido and the area's layout and facilities became much as we see today. Though closed to the public over the summer of 1995 the club were able to continue racing, "swimming at our own risk in water that may be untreated". The work for a re-vamped Lido was finished by early summer, 1996. As an architect Alan was involved by the Parks in the building design. Being in a Royal Park there were very strict design guidelines which meant no windows to the new changing room, much to Alan's frustration. Alan seen here inspecting the works.

The club worked closely with The Royal Parks team on the new design. On completion the club presented the management team with a framed Serpentine SC historical print.

The club worked closely with The Royal Parks team on the new design.  On completion the club presented the management team with a framed Serpentine SC historical print.

To celebrate the opening a club photo was arranged, July 1996.

To celebrate the opening a club photo was arranged, July 1996.

Reader, you will notice that some members are conspicuous by their absence - school holiday season

In 2000 the club celebrated Alan's 50 years with the club

In 2000 the club celebrated Alan's 50 years with the club

After the post race cake and bubbly it was round to Alan and Paulette's in the evening for a barbeque.

After the post race cake and bubbly it was round to Alan and Paulette's in the evening for a barbeque.

Alan sadly left us in October 2009. Each year since we have swum for the Alan Titmuss cup. The cup itself was a very old trophy that had been returned to the club and "earmarked" by Alan himself for his race.

Alan sadly left us in October 2009.  Each year since we have swum for the Alan Titmuss cup.  The cup itself was a very old trophy that had been returned to the club and

2010, Paulette Titmuss with President Eric Carter

Sakura Hingley (now Mrs Adams) was the first winner

Sakura Hingley (now Mrs Adams) was the first winner

This particular race is always highly contested by members of a certain vintage.

2018, Rosemary Lewis

2018, Rosemary Lewis

2019 winner, George Cselko. No picture available, so here is another from last Saturday morning when George was again victoroious

2019 winner, George Cselko.  No picture available, so here is another from last Saturday morning when George was again victoroious

Not 2019

Alan and Paulette with Jess.

Alan and Paulette with Jess.

Late 1970s/early 1980s