Final of the 2021 Emmi Hunte cup series of races

Aggregate points victory saw Fiona Campbell presented with the Emmi Hunte cup. We also paid tribute to the late Ashwin Pandya, whose prize giving will never be forgotten by club members, irrespective of whether or not they took part in his race.

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

Fiona, best performer over the series

Cup winner Fiona Campbell with club legend Emmi Hunte. Octogenarian Emmi still swims all year round.

President Alan Mitchell, proudly wearing his Serpentine SC tam o'shanter, spoke with fondness of Emmi's dedication to the club through all hours and all weathers

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.

Cup and prize for the series winner.  Prizes for 1st and 2nd in the morning's two races.

(photo: Fiona Campbell)

Granddaughter Esperanza presented the prizes

Granddaughter Esperanza presented the prizes

1st in the first race, Vanessa Marshall

2nd in the first race, Alan Mitchell

1st in the second race, James Lythe

2nd in the second race, Alan Luckhurst

A special "Ashwin prize" was presented by Fiona Campbell, who knew Ashwin well outside of the Serpentine through yoga.

A special

In the true tradition of Ashwin's approach to prize giving, non race participant Emma Pullen was a "worthy winner". Fiona was presented with her first ever Serpentine prize (2012?) after Ashwin's race, even though she had not competed. "Everyone's a winner!"

Ashwin remembered

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.

(Brian Thomas)

A statue of Krishna and a scarf, presented by Fiona.

Race number one

Race number one

Slow entry

Final adjustments from Paddy (or is that a pre race ritual?)

The judges

Nick Hungerford was on duty looking after Mr President's Patterdale terrier, Peggy.

Vanessa sweeping to victory

Alan Mitchell second, "by a short neck"

The "also-rans" fighting for third and fourth place

Race number two

Race number two

Awaiting the starter's long count

Off and running (swimming?)

Fresh from her victory in the "slow race", Vanessa gives a clap of encouragement to the "fast boys and girls"

A very tight finish

Bumping and boring in the fight for sixth and seventh place

There were also some recent birthdays

There were also some recent birthdays

"Happy birthday" was sung for birthday girls Laure Latham and Sally Stott, plus birthday boy Jeremy Newton (out of shot)

Birthday breakfast for Jeremy

Chris Hatcher helped Jeremy celebrate

No birthday for Ian MacEachern, but this did not stop Lewis giving him a very happy un-birthday "cuddle"

No birthday for Ian MacEachern, but this did not stop Lewis giving him a very happy un-birthday