Another sunny autumn morning for the 200m (220 yards) race in memory of Sid and Gladys Stovold. The cup was first presented sixty years ago in memory of Sid, who died suddenly at the far too young age of 51.
First trophy for Trent
Second place for Victoria (Hasler?)
A surprise third prize for Natasha Wake
Rob Oulcott spoke of the history behind the magnificent trophy
Sid the high diver belonged to the Highgate club that dominated British diving in the pre-war years
President Rob recalled tales of Sydney Stovold, who was not just a strong all year round Serpentine swimmer but also competed in national diving competitions with the Highgate Diving Club. Founded in 1928 and based at the Highgate Ponds, by 1939 the club dominated the British diving scene. Our Sid was "up there" with the best. For more information on the history of this famous old club please follow this link to their website -
History | Highgate Diving Club
Due to the lack of deep water diving facilites the club has moved out of London and is now based at the Medway Park Leisure Centre, Gillingham, Kent.
Sid joined the Serpentine SC in the mid 1950s and would regularly entertain members with his incredible sense of balance - there are stories of him walking out from the changing room on his hands, onto the Serpentine diving board and then gracefully entering the water.
On their seaside honeymoon in 1955 Sid performed his handstand walking act on a cliff edge. Gladys recalled that she did not react as her normal quiet and graceful self. It is safe to say that Sid never repeated it again in her presence (at least not on a clifftop).
Though their marriage was tragically cut short, Gladys continued to support the club right up to her passing in 2011. Gladys unexpectedly left a very generous bequest to the club in her will. This helped enable various improvements to the changing room in the "20 teens". When you get back in the changing room and you make yourself a hot drink, quietly think of Gladys and Sid whilst you sip your sustenance on a frosty morning. Tory Long (nee Thorpe) has sponsored the race since 2011.
Gladys' support for the club extended across six decades
The cup was presented by Tory Long, who took on sponsorship of the race in 2011
Laure Latham bagged a good spot to watch the presentation
13 August 2012, Tory ready for the start of her English Channel attempt
Tory has a very respectable marathon swimming record
Rob explained that Tory is quite private when it comes to talking about herself and doesn’t like a huge fanfare. A "close friend" however did not hold back when approached for some information:
"Victoria (Thorpe) joined the Serpentine Swimming Club in 2008. 'Tory' had moved to London and was looking for somewhere to swim. She stumbled upon the Serpentine and her open water career started. The first person she met at the club was then President Eric Carter, but that did not put her off! Tory had not always been a massively keen mid-winter swimmer, but since (then fiance) Jonny joined the club the rivalry keeps her going as she never wants to be left behind (and likes to win :).
"She says she was so lucky to find the Serpentine and she feels privileged to not only be able to sponsor the Stovold cup, but be a member of the Serpentine family. The club and it’s members have always felt like family and she is now so excited that her own little family are growing up with the club in their lives.
"Some brief detail of Tory’s swimming accomplishments:
-Joined Serpentine in 2008
-Swam Lake Zurich in 2011
-Swam the English Channel on the 13th August 2012 in a respectful 12 hours 14 minutes and 10 seconds
-Swam the Rottnest Island swim (Australia) in 2015
-Looking forward to another ‘challenge’ in the next couple of years, as if becoming a mother wasn’t challenging enough :)"
Anon ("close friend")
Early morning, 13 August 2012. Tory about to enter the waters off Shakespeare Beach
A bit of company
Tory may be but a small speck on a French beach, but a very happy and very proud small speck
It really was a truly beautiful morning for a swim
(Report compiled by Brian Thomas)