Selkie Henley Classic: The Iconic Regatta Course in Warm Waters

Selkie Henley Classic: The Iconic Regatta Course in Warm Waters

In the early hours of June 25th, nearly 500 dedicated swimmers eagerly gathered for the 19th annual Selkie Henley Classic. This beloved event, which has become a cherished tradition for many, offered participants the opportunity to conquer the 2.1km Henley Royal Regatta Course. With a delightful twist, the recent heatwave gifted competitors with balmy water temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius, setting the stage for an invigorating swim. The event commenced at 4:10 am, as a luminous green laser brilliantly illuminated the course.

The Selkie Henley Classic originated in 2004, when two rower friends, Tom Kean and Jeremy Laming, conceived the idea of swimming the course prior to the Regatta. Since then, Henley Swim has exclusively secured access to the Henley Royal Regatta course once a year. This unique privilege grants swimmers a safe and supervised opportunity to traverse the course, free from boat traffic. The swim encompasses all the iconic landmarks of the Henley Regatta, commencing and concluding at the official Regatta points.

Open to both wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers, the Selkie Henley Classic embraced a diverse range of individuals, including juniors as young as 14 years old. Moreover, it featured categories for Schools and even a Varsity challenge, fostering an inclusive and spirited atmosphere. This year, over 100 swimmers chose to camp along the picturesque banks of the Thames in anticipation of the event, fully immersing themselves in the vibrant ambiance.

Vicky Cunningham claimed the title of the fastest female swimmer overall for the fifth consecutive year, conquering the Open 18-44 wetsuit category with a time of 30 minutes and 2 seconds. Richard Stannard, representing FastWetsuits, emerged victorious as the overall men’s champion, completing the course in a remarkable 28 minutes and 32 seconds in the Masters 45-54 Wetsuit category.

The fastest junior swimmer, Felix Brockdorff from Churcher’s College, left the audience in awe with an astonishing time of 30 minutes and 12 seconds. Lizzy Crudgington secured the title of the fastest female junior, clocking in at an impressive 33 minutes and 24 seconds. Adding to the excitement, the Oxford University team triumphed over Cambridge by a margin of under a minute, earning them the varsity shield for another year.

Henley Swim Operations Director Juliet Hume expressed her satisfaction with the perfect conditions that prevailed on that memorable Sunday. She highlighted the stunning sunrise, the inviting warmth of the water, and the gentle flow of the Thames, all contributing to the participants’ incredible experience. Hume also commended the dedicated team of volunteers, whose commitment led them to arrive at the remarkable hour of 2 am on a Sunday morning.

In addition to this iconic event, Henley Swim organizes three further swimming events throughout the year. The Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival, the Club to Pub, and the Thames Marathon attract swimmers from near and far, providing them with an opportunity to test their endurance and revel in the beauty of the Thames.

Henley resident Laura Reineke, an esteemed member of the renowned ‘Henley Mermaids,’ expressed her elation, stating:

“It was my fifth Henley Classic, and it never fails to delight. Despite the early start and a demanding training swim the day before for my upcoming English Channel solo in August, I was astonished to win a silver medal in my age group! I’ll certainly be back for my 6th, 7th, 8th…!” Similarly, participant Max Lowe extended his gratitude, remarking, “Thanks for another fantastic event. The conditions were ideal, and witnessing the sunrise over the course made the early start completely worthwhile. See you next year for my fifth Classic!”

Traveling all the way from Irvine, California, Stan Mullin shared his enthusiasm, saying,

“Back in the day, I was a rower and never had the chance to row on the Henley Course. Now, while on vacation for the Regatta, I’ve returned to swim it instead. This event is truly amazing!”

The Selkie Henley Classic will make its triumphant return at dawn on Sunday, June 30th, 2024. Registration will open soon, inviting enthusiasts to embark on this extraordinary adventure. For further details and information, please visit the official website at