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Swimming overnight from 25-26 August, James Leitch, 37, set a new British Long Distance

Swimming Association Championship record for the 21.6-mile Loch Lomond swim, an event held every two years. Leitch covered the course in a blistering 9h16m32s. Close on his heels came Rebecca Lewis, set ing a new women’s record of 9h23m34s. For Leitch, this was

his fourth Loch Lomond swim of the year, and he actually swam a couple of minutes faster shortly before the championships. His other swims were over an hour slower, which he puts down almost entirely to the eff ect of swimming into the wind. Leitch is no stranger to winning having previously been a British Champion over 5km and 10km, and this year also becoming Scot ish Champion over 5km. He describes his current training regime of 40km to 50km per week as “about half of what I used to do when I was good”.


The body of a migrant Asian woman has been found on a French beach close to Boulogne, aſt er she tried to swim across the English Channel to Britain, equipped only with a wetsuit, a compass and energy bars. The woman also had spare clothes in a plastic pouch, and was smeared with vaseline to keep out the cold during her bid to swim across the world’s busiest shipping lane.

10 

September 2012 saw some history making in the English Channel. First up, Australian marathon swimmer Trent Grimsey set a new speed benchmark of 6 hours and 55 minutes for a crossing, beating by two minutes Petar Stoychev’s record, which has stood since 2007 (and some thought would stand for many years to come). To put this in context, in 2011 crossing times ranged from just over nine hours to more than 23 hours. Only three swimmers broke the 10-hour barrier, which many people would consider exceptionally fast for the 34km swim. (See page 39 for an interview with Trent Grimsey).

Mark Bayliss also set a new benchmark for the Arch to Arc endurance challenge, which involves running from London to Dover, swimming the Channel and cycling 181 miles to Paris. Aſt er an 87-mile run, Bayliss took 11 hours and 48 minutes to swim the Channel, and was the fi rst Arch to Arc challenger to complete the swim without a wetsuit. He then went on to set a new record for the challenge of 73 hours 39 minutes. Meanwhile, back in July, a group of swimmers calling themselves the ‘Swinging Sixties’ set the record as the team with the oldest average age. The fi ve swimmers

Trent Grimsey (right), who has set a new Channel world record, pictured with Michael Jennings, a member of the team who set a new Channel relay record for the team with the oldest average age


(Ellery McGowan (66), Duncan McCreadie (66), Chris Pitman (61), Irene Keel (71) and Rob Hughes (65) took 13 hours and 59 minutes to reach France. However, the Swinging

Sixties were overhauled in September by another team, ‘One Foot in the Wave’, which had an average age of 67 years and 42 days. This second team included Channel stalwarts

such as King of the Channel Kevin Murphy (63) and Michael Jennings (74), who fi rst swam the Channel in 1960. Pam Bessell (68), Margot Anderson (65), Dennis Vick (67) and Alan Macleay (63) completed the team, which is raising funds for MacMillan Cancer Support, and are still accepting donations at bessell1944.


Legendary open water swimmer Willy van Rysel has died aged 96.

Originally from the Netherlands, van Rysel

set led in the UK, living, unsurprisingly, on the coast, in Bournemouth. In 1972, she was the fi rst woman to receive the prestigious Davids Wheeler Memorial Trophy, presented by the Marathon Swimming Foundation. She was inducted in the International

Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002 and in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2008.

Rysel became the fi rst person to swim 18km from Dungeness to Hythe, and also swam

26km from Dover to Ramsgate. She swam 16km, twice, in Lake Windermere, and set the record for the fastest female crossing of Falmouth Harbour in 1969, in 4h24m. At her peak, Rysel was in the Masters

Top 10 for over 20 years, and set 42 FINA Masters World records. She retired from swimming only four years ago, at the age of 92. Rysel’s International Swimming Hall of

Fame tribute reads: “She may have done just as much out of the pool as in the pool for Masters Swimming in Great Britain… she helped bring Masters Swimming to the forefront in Great Britain.”

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