Another beautifully sunny Saturday saw long term club members Sir Anthony and Lady Cleaver present the Dave Milne cup to the winner of our summer Blue Ribbon event.
Mike Olizar notched up a second Bridge to Bridge victory, having won the race a quarter of a centrury ago.
Vanessa Marshall was second, followed by Anne Mannix.
Blue sky, blue water, and blue rowing boats to negotiate half way along the course
A 1,000 yard long blue ribbon
In the early years of the club a non-handicapped Bridge to Bridge race was used to decide the club Captain. Harry Coulter was the first such race winner and thus club Captain from 1864 until the spell was broken in 1869 when T Morris successfully won the race and captaincy. Coulter's 1864 winning time was 20 minutes and 10 seconds. Harry Coulter was a swimmer of national standard, having come second to the great Harry Gurr in a "Champion of England race". An indication of how technique, training and thus ability has improved is that the current club record for the Bridge to Bridge was established in 2011 by Cameron Kelly with a time of 12 minutes and 42 seconds.
Since its inception in the mid 19th century the race has always been billed as 1000 yards. That said, we now start nearly 25 yards away from the Dell Bridge and finish at the chain about 25 yards short of Rennes Bridge. Taking account of these deductions the distance could be better described as 950 yards (870m). Mind you, with all the zig zagging around the moored rowing boats, let alone fiesty swans, geese, ducks and coots the club can still claim that we have a "1000 yard long" blue ribbon.
Triumphant Mike Olizar, flanked by Sir Anthony and Lady Cleaver
Bubbly for second placed Vanessa Marshall
Reading material for Anne, who also proudly displayed the now engraved Bradshaw cup which she won two Saturdays ago
President Rob commenced the post race prentation by reading the Evening News report of the 1926 Bridge to Bridge
The Evening News report of the Bridge to Bridge race on the 17th July 1926 was headlined "Grandfathers in Serpentine Race". Rob read out the paper's report -
"While Londoners were sleeping, 59 swimmers turned out, a record entry, to race in memory of the Serpentine swimmers who fell in the Great War. White-haired grandfathers struggled pluckily with schoolboys. Fred Houghton, the handicapper, started the men from the Knightsbridge end with 75-year-old Richard Ledger leading the swimmers, saying 'I wouldn't miss this great race for anything'. The last man in was W H Melhuish, a bus driver and Club champion for the past fourteen years. At the half distance J.Hughes, a comparative stripling in his sixties, was ten yards ahead of his nearest rival, playwright Henry Devereaux, but it was T. Wiggins, a Kilburn chauffeur, who forged ahead near the finish, which he reached forty yards ahead of W Bayly and Sam Youlton. 'It was a fine race' the winner said, 'but a wound in my leg I got in Ypres began to trouble me near the finish."
Rob noted that the range and diversity of the club's membership reported in the press 96 years ago is as proudly true today as it was then. In fact even more so - women were able to join as associate members in 1973 and as full members in 1985.
For further background and history of our summer Blue Ribbon race please follow this link to the 2021 report -
Rob spoke with friendly appreciation of Anthony and Jennie and their contribution to the club
President Rob gave an outline the many commerical and public bodies that Sir Anthony has chaired (IBM UK, EngineeringUK, Royal College of Music, to name but a few). Despite these "heights" Anthony still describes himself as simply "a systems engineer".
Rob also expressed his thankful appreciation of Anthony's greatly appreciated contribution to the club's management and administration
Not sure what Rob said, but it certainly tickled Fiona
The traditional three cheers
Anthony and Jennie have sponsored the Bridge to Bridge race since 2003
Jennie joined the club in 1991. Though she never raced, she certainly impressed with her serene and effortless glide through the water. Her graceful secret .... flippers. Jennie's family have a long association with the club stretching back at least to the 1940s. Club member Bill Maggs, in whose memory we still race each March, was butler to her grandmother's household.
Anthony met Jennie in the late 1990s and joined the club "by instruction" - he wasn't given a choice. Anthony is famous within the club for his exceptionally strong side stroke, much in the mould of Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to successfully swim across the English Channel. This skill served him well on 21 September 2010 when he was part of the "Serpentine Veterans" relay team. The other team members were Matthew Morony, David Mackertich, Geoff Ransom, George Cselko, Robin Hunter, and Alan Mitchell.
An early morning brisk walk (skimpies optional) is required as a precursor to the race
Tim Outen on his way
Handicapper Dani Lobo deep in concentration
Robin assisted Dani by calling out the clock time using his phone stopwatch function
An early starter creating ripples under a blue sky
Awaiting their mark with anticipation
Not sure why Eric looks worried? - this is his 4th decade of Bridge to Bridge participation
Some very patient swimmers
Eric ready to slip into hot water (23c and rising)
Rob studiously helped the racers safely enter the water
MIke Harris swam the course but did not race. He took some wonderful aquatic photos along the way with his waterproof camera
Lucy Harris just finished
Lucy and Jeremy
Lucy and Jeremy joined by John Luckhurst
Yvonne (aka Squirrell) is clapped home
Eric, joind by Duff Kelly. Duff was following dad Bob Kelly's "footsteps" and had trawled the bottom of the lake for treasue. In the bag: a vintage VCR recorder.
(Report compiled by Brian Thomas)