Saturday 23 October saw the final leg of the Emmi Hunte series of races. The morning's two 100 yard races saw victories for Vannessa Marshall and James Lythe. However, Fiona Campbell won the cup by virtue of her performance over the series.
In "normal" circumstances the Emmi Hunte series is raced between February and October over varying distances - February 55 yards (50m), March 110 yards (100m), August 880 yards (800m) with the final 100 yard (90m) race held in late October. Due to the Covid fixture suspensions, 2021 saw only two races counting toward the final result - the August and October events.
Fiona, best performer over the series
President Alan spoke of Emmi's dedication to the club over what is now four separate decades (and two centuries). Alan also noted that Emmi had twice won the Christmas Day race, being the first lady to win the race in 2004, and winning again in 2015, but had only once been a Peter Pan cup winner. The following extract from the History section of the club website should help your understanding -
"The Christmas Day Race for the Peter Pan Cup
"By the early 2000s there was no gender distinction in our races, all swimmers competing as equals under the eyes of the handicapper. The exception was the Christmas Day race for the Peter Pan cup. During the 1990s, to encourage the still handful of women swimmers a small “Wendy” cup was provided each year by the club to be presented to the first woman home. As with the Peter Pan cup, this was retained each year by the winner. Many saw this as unfair as all swimmers in the race were competing under a handicap and the small cup provided by the club was in no manner as grand as the Peter Pan trophy presented by the race sponsors, the Greenbury family. The AGM of 2003 sought to rectify this. The concept was by no means acceptable to all at the meeting. The compromise outcome was for the first swimmer home to be deemed the winner of the Christmas Day race, with the Peter Pan cup presented to the first man home and a Wendy cup to the first woman. No issue arose for the 2003 Christmas Day race. However, in 2004 the race was won by the very popular veteran Emmi Hunte. Many, including the race sponsors the Greenbury family, thought it very strange and unsatisfactory that a small alternative cup was presented to the race winner rather than the grand Peter Pan trophy for which the club and the event has a global reputation. The issue was addressed at the 2005 AGM with a proposal that the race winner would be presented with the Peter Pan cup, irrespective of gender. The motion was passed virtually unanimously, with many who opposed the proposal at the 2003 AGM speaking this time strongly in favour."
For more information on the background to the Emmi Hunte Series, and its predecessor the Daily Telegraph Series, please follow this link to the 2020 "Race We Missed" report
Cup and prize for the series winner. Prizes for 1st and 2nd in the morning's two races.
Granddaughter Esperanza presented the prizes
A special "Ashwin prize" was presented by Fiona Campbell, who knew Ashwin well outside of the Serpentine through yoga.
Ashwin Pandya joined the club in the mid-1970s. At the time he was also a member of the now long-defunct Serpentine Lido Lifesaving Club, who on Sundays during the summer season would train and practice their lifesaving drills and also provide additional lifeguard cover for the public Lido.
For many years Ashwin provided the prizes for what was the Daily Telegraph cup series. Ashwin's prize-giving was a thing of legend. Over a number of days prior to the final race of the series, Ashwin would bring along suitcases of prizes to be left in the clubroom ready for Saturday. Everyone present got a prize, irrespective of whether or not they were near the front on the morning or on points over the four-race series, or indeed whether or not they had actually been in the lake that day. In fact, on a few occasions bemused passing strangers out for a morning stroll along the bank of the Serpentine would be presented with a prize from Ashwin.
Sadly Ashwin passed away in mid-January 2020. A few of us from the club were honoured to attend his funeral at Golders Green crematorium. followed by a Sikh celebration of Ashwin's life at the Gurdwara Nanak Darbar in North London.