The 2017 Champion of Champions (South) swim was a rather trying experience to organise to say the least!! By early April it became apparent that we were lucky to have a swim at all given the pile-driving for a new marina in the harbour at Dover. An alternative swim venue at Ramsgate was sought (after much deliberation and scouting out) but to cut a long story short we concluded the safest option was to be at Dover in the afternoon of 17th June cracking on with a 10km swim comprising of a 5km, 3km followed by 2km swim doing laps of a 1km circuit.
Despite traffic, accidents and a closure of the A20 at Folkestone conspiring against swimmers & helpers on the day, we were relieved to witness the finest sunshine with little wind in our favour and the race was underway with the 5km at 1.45pm slightly earlier than planned. Very quickly the same overall race order emerged with James Leitch (all the way from Glasgow) setting a ferocious pace at the front of the men’s race being challenged hammer & tongs by Ollie Wilkinson from Cheltenham and Ben Silver making his BLDSA debut from Red Top Swim (a keen anchor supporter of our Championships over the years).
The ladies event saw Hannah Monaghan lead out Elizabeth Denyer and Melanie Holland. The pace of swimmers this year was truly remarkable.
At the other end of the race Philip Yorke endured the glorious air temperatures and 16-17 degree water for longer than any other male shortly followed by Val Smith who ensured excellent value for money completing the entire event in 4hrs 55 mins narrowly finishing all 3 swims within the cut-offs to allow her to receive the coveted red cap signifying a successful event completion. Well done Val.
I would like to thank all swimmers for their understanding in the lead up to the swim and on the day for being so flexible with timing. In the end, the superb conditions helped to create a fabulous buzz but this swim remains a significant challenge even in this shortened format for any accomplished swimmer. I look forward to organising an easier event next year with pile-driving complete!
My heartfelt thanks goes out to the 11 kayakers, Safety boat crews, first aid, turnboat crew, time keepers beach crew and my family for again making this wonderful event so memorable. Without all the helpers donating so much of their time, this event would not take place. The Nemes Nutters and Red Top Swim groups deserve special mention for dominating the swim field and helping out with volunteering wherever possible. Thank you. Mike Pinske, one of the kayakers who also finished SCAR with me this year in Arizona, even travelled all the way from Penrith to help out on the day. Thanks Mike, it was great to have you join us.
Special thanks to Dover Harbour Board for accommodating us this year in exceptional circumstances and Dover Sea Sports Centre for use of their turnboat again.
See you all 3rd weekend of June 2018 for hopefully the same weather!
BLDSA President, Race Director Champion of Champions and Two Way Windermere