Robert Fisher came in first in the 200m (220 yards) race in memory of long time club favourites Cyril and Yvonne Wood. Paddy Boyce provided some lovely prizes.
The club was also paid a visit by Ice Miler Ram Barkai, who spoke about his winter swimming history and his recently published book.
Rob Fisher, winner of the 2022 Cyril and Yvonne Wood race
Last home Andrew Fuller was somewhat surprised to be in the prizes
A beautiful early autumn morning greeted the racers
Creative prize giving
Ever inventive Paddy Boyce did not surprise with some creative awarding of prizes -
1st home, Rob Fisher
5th, Fiona Campbell
10th, Henry Fischel-Bok
15th, James Lyth
2nd from last, Mary Olivari
Last, Andrew Fuller.
Paddy also presented gifts of appreciation to a number of people who tirelessly for the club.
Rob had his work cut out explaining the prize allocation, but an easier job in telling of Paddy's attraction to this club of eccentrics
A portrait of Paddy, as recalled by President Rob
Paddy is not one for public speaking, so Rob happily paraphrased Paddy's reminiscences
In 1997 Paddy was cycling through Hyde Park to Paddington when he saw swimmers in the Lake, he asked about the Club and whether he could swim and after that moment was taken with the whole eccentric set up and soon became a member.
Paddy recalls simple and happy days of there being only around 10 to 15 hard core daily swimmers during the weekdays, with the now lost generation of swimmers – Long legged John who would wear shorts throughout the year, Bill Phipps – a silversmith who made pieces for the Royal Family, Shaky Bill (still with us, but you have to arrive very, very early to catch him) who is a man of very few words only and shook his tea everywhere, and Martin a caretaker from one of the local mansion blocks who was a talented artist, but who filled the changing room with his BO – sorry to speak ill of the dead (Paddy’s words not Rob's).
The incredible Rosie George who has been a constant for the club - making her annual collection for the electricity meter where every member had to donate 50 pence to ensure that we had light and power.
Upon his first club biathlon Paddy stormed the running and was a long way ahead of the second competitor. So that he did not have to take the limelight of any prizes he held back and of course came near to the back of the swim – to this day a position that he is more than comfortable with letting others take the lead.
Paddy ran the Harrow Marathon with Eric Carter. Much to both their annoyance and frustration the marshals got the numbering system wrong which proved to psychological torture as after reach the 19 mile point, the next marshal was holding up a sign for 16 miles and then marshal after that holding up a sign for 23 miles.
Paddy met Kirstie Neilson travelling in South America – she was horrified that he was travelling without a book in the Atacama Desert. When she asked him where he was sleeping that he night, he answered that he did not know. Kirstie soon sorted something out and offered some Motherly guidance. They walked the Cusco trail together and when they were both back in the UK met up at the Serpentine by chance and rekindled their friendship.
Through Kirstie he was introduced to Mary Olivarri and the first year of swimming together Mary and Kirstie both said that they would swim until the end of September and stop for Winter. Paddy subtly pushed them to swim until the end of October, then November – by which time they were fully geared up to swim their first Christmas Race. Since then neither have looked back.
For Mary Olivari's 70 Birthday, Paddy arranged to meet at Polpo Restaurant with Kirstie. He arrived early and briefed the waitress that when two ladies arrived that she should tell the petite lady with the white hair that unfortunately she would not be able to eat the restaurant due to an age policy of no over sixty year olds! Kirstie was fuming and started saying that she would report the Restaurant to the Evening Standard whilst Mary had virtually left the restaurant thinking that they would just find somewhere else to eat – it was only after a 30 seconds that they heard Paddy’s laughter that they realised that they had been had!
Paddy delegated presentation of the cup to good friend Debs Byatt
Paddy is a very bad influence - his post swim hot water bottle habit is catching
Cakes, trophy and liquid prizes being studiously cared-for and protected by Linda Luckhurst
President Rob celebrates (not sure what, though?)
A thank you gift for Dani from Paddy
And a thank you for Laure
Appreciation from the gallery
Rob gave birthday wishes to John Luckhurst. (A big one, with a zero on the end)
Paddy and swimming friends Lucy, Debs and Mary
Race sponsor Paddy Boyce won the 2015 Peter Pan cup
Cyril beat Paddy to it by 15 years
For lots more information on Cyril and Yvonne's sporting prowess, the war years, their importance to both Tooting Bec and the Serpentine, icy visits to the St Petersburg Walruses club, Charge of the Light Brigade re-enactments (albeit at the dining table), and women club members' involvement in the Christmas Day race please follow this link to the 2021 report. There is also some fun stuff about today's race sponsor, Paddy Boyce.
Today's race celebrated a past president and handicapper and the ever present Yvonne. They both contributed much to the club and continued our strong relationship with Tooting Bec's South London Swimming Club
Cyril and Yvonne Wood, long term members of South London Swimming Club, joined the Serpentine SC in 1980 when Tooting Bec was under refurbishment. They became fully ensconced with the club. Yvonne would swim before races and then help in judging. Cyril, a strong swimmer, carried on racing into his late 80s.
Cyril was club President, 1995 - 98 and Hon. Handicapper 2001 - 2004. In his role as Handicapper, Cyril introduced a "modern", scientific approach to the handicapper's art. With his trusty assistant Yvonne, he could be seen, stopwatch in hand, giving a running commentary of the proceedings into a cassette tape recorder hung around his neck, which he would download and then hand out detailed result sheets the following week, down to the last second, all punched out on his old 'Department of Education' typewriter. This was quite some contrast to the previous "back of an envelope" approach, with handicaps produced on the morning of a race, depending on who had turned up - the number of racers was somewhat lower then.
St Petersburg, 1994
Paddy has been entertaining us since 1997. He has sponsored Cyril and Yvonne's race since 2016.
And finally, a visit from Ice Mile legend Ram Barkai had been arranged by our own legend (in his own lunchtime) Ice Miler Nick Hungerford
(Report compiled by Brian Thomas)