Longest 4 miles ever swum
The Rivington Reservoir Championships were set up to mark the millennium and were first held in June 2000 at Rivington Reservoir, Chorley, Lancashire. The National Lotteries Millennium Fund supported these championships and this entitled all of our members to a free swim with a buffet and disco to follow in the evening. United Utilities Reservoir and the superb facilities of the Anderson Outdoor Centre provide the swim with excellent facilities. These facilities include changing rooms, hot showers and a boat shed on the waters edge where tea, coffee and hot chocolate are supplied free of charge to both swimmers and spectators. We also have use of a shed where we hold a buffet and presentation after the swim.
From the outset a small group have helped with the championship. The committee for this swim has been Dee, Pat and Gwyn Llewellyn. However, Maurice Ferguson also helped set up the swim and obtained the grant for the first year. Lynn Lowther and Chris Hickling have also played a big part, Lyn with the timekeeping and Chris with the safety.
From the first championships in 2000 there has been a steady increase in entrants from 80 to currently over 120. The Rivington Championships include 2mile swims for the junior, senior and veteran and a 4mile senior swim, which follow a triangular course. These BLDSA championships were the first to introduce a 1km Novice swim 2 leg straight-line course, which is open to non-members. The 1km was established to encourage new swimmers and help people with the transition from pool to open water events.
In 2000 the first year there were 15 to 20mph winds which caused some rough water. Heather Frederickson aged 14 of Salford was the fastest 2 mile swimmer and in the 1km event Lennard Lee, in his first open water event, took first place, 2.5 minutes faster than his nearest rival to set the record which so far still stands. In the ladies 1km race there was an extremely close race between Temara Blanchard (Scarborough Kingfishers) and Sarah George (City of Bradford), which resulted in 1 second between them. However, in the 4 mile race Maurice Ferguson having not swum this distance for a number of years due to ill health maintains to this day that it was the longest 4 miles he had ever swum!!!
The 2001 championship was sunny with a light breeze and many of the spectators sat around in deckchairs trying to get a tan. There was a 92% completion rate this year. Nathan Renshaw (Scarborough Kingfishers) won both the 2 and 4mile gents events. Lennard Lee (Salford) returned to retain the 1km event and also competed in the 4mile event where he was just edged into 2nd place by Nathan. Lennard later went on to swim the English Channel in a very fast time. Liane Llewellyn (Halifax), Andy Wright and Dave Feakes (Warrington Dolphins) all completed the 2 and 4mile events and went on to complete two Windermere later that season. In the Veterans event Greta Gall (YeAABA) and Dave Reason (Howebridge Marlins) both retained their titles. David Foster (Carnforth Otters) swam his first 4mile event. New perpetual trophies were awarded to the juniors and seniors in memory of the late Gerry Forsberg and Mrs. Margaret Walker who had both been involved with the BLDSA for many years.
The 2002 championships were held on a dry day with sunny spells and calm water. New perpetual trophies were added for the veteran’s and there was an increase in entries by 50%. Mustafa Khalil from Cairo, Egypt became the first overseas swimmer to compete. There was a large entry from Westholme School (Blackburn) who went on to field two successful channel relay teams in 2003. Natalie Jones (Warriors of Warrington), Tom Wilkinson (Scarborough Kingfishers) and Liane Llewellyn (Halifax) all defended their 2mile titles. Breaststroke records were set by Nick Hunt (Cheltenham) who was 2nd overall in the Veterans’ 2mile race and he later added the 4mile record and Sam Thompson (Scarborough Kingfishers) in the Senior 2 mile record. Adam Harvey (Scarborough S.C.) won both 2 and 4mile Senior Gents trophies. Dee Llewellyn (Halifax) who is the event organizer, retained her 4 mile title to complete a sister double act. The 1km event saw a massive 41 entrants who were mainly all newcomers to the sport.
The weather for the 2003 championship produced flat calm conditions for the 2mile races in morning and only a few ripples for the 4mile afternoon event. Natalie Jones (Warriors of Warrington) and Liane Llewellyn (Halifax) won the 2mile events for their 3rd successive year. Adam Harvey (Scarborough S. C.) won both the 2 mile and 4 mile gent’s events for the 2nd year running setting a new record on the 4mile event. The first swimmer to compete on backstroke Anna Barker (Warrington Dolphins) came second in the 2 mile veteran event with brother Andy Wright (Warrington Dolphins) winning the 2 mile veterans’ for the 2nd year running, whilst husband and wife, Paul and Amanda Taylor (Leeds), both took 3rd place in the male and female veteran events. Ladies breaststroke records were set by Sarah Roberts (Scarborough S.C.) in the junior 2 mile, Lesley Feakes (Warrington Dolphins) in the senior 2 mile breaststroke and Pauline Kay (Barrow) setting a veteran’s 2 mile breaststroke record. Gill Stables (Troutbridge) and Keith Bosson (Warrington Dolphins) both set ladies and gent’s veteran freestyle records in the 4mile event, which still stand.
Unlike the previous year the weather for the 2004 championships were the worst ever experienced at Rivington, conditions were very rough. The start was delayed due to a marker buoy breaking loose in the wind. Both the 1km event and 4mile race were shortened to 500m and 3 mile respectively. However in shorten 1km only one person retired out of the 28 entries, the first 250metres was swum directly into the wind. Rebecca Lewis (Barrow) retained her 4mile title and also took the 2mile title. Andy Wright (Warrington Dolphins) won the veteran’s men’s event for the 3rd year with Andrea Gellan (INCAS) winning the ladies title for the 2nd year.
The 2005 event took place on an overcast day and the water was quite cool but there were no strong winds this year. Rebecca Lewis (Barrow) retained her 2mile title setting a new record but was beaten in the 4mile event by Claire Kane (Warrington Dolphins) who was last year’s junior Champion. Jennifer Jackson (Wigan) set a new female record for the 1km event. David Richardson (Howebridge Marlins) retained his junior gents title and set a new junior record but leading the field was Alice McCall (Wigan) who set a new junior girls record. Terry Cowburn (Winsford) set new records in the senior 2mile events. Andrea Gellan (INCAS) and Kevin Sanders (BLDSA) also set new records in the 2mile veteran’s event. Kevin went on to win the veterans 4mile event and Simon Lee (Solent) retained his 4mile gents’ title.
Longest serving Secretary – Dee Llewellyn, 7 years
Number of secretaries – one
Cancellations – none
Secretaries to have won this Championship – one Dee Llewellyn
Most victories –Rebecca Lewis 5
Biggest entry – 126
Years held – 7 in 2006