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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Swimming Down The River Thames, Lewis Pugh In 2006

On NBC's opening montage of its broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, the Thames was prominently shown throughout the show.

The longest river in England was swum in its entirety in July 2006 when Lewis Pugh traversed from its source near the Welsh border to the North Sea, a total distance of 350 km (217.5 miles).

Pugh attempted the swim (Investec Thames Challenge) in order to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the UK. Coincidentally and appropriately, the Thames stopped flowing in 2006 due to a severe drought. At the time of Pugh's swim, England was rationing its water rationing and sweltering under the highest recorded temperatures since records began.

"I will never forget arriving at the source to find it had completely dried up," recalled the famed pioneering adventurer who has swum up on Mount Everett, at the North Pole and in Antarctica among other locations. Fully intent on achieving his goal, the former Special Air Service officer laced up his running shoes and ran the first 40km until he could start swimming. "It was blisteringly hot. The swim was a slog from beginning to end. There was no flow whatsoever. Imagine putting your head down in a warm, muddy, polluted river for 6 to 8 hours per day."

He got sick on a number of occasions throughout the stage swim that took him much longer than he anticipated. "I estimated the swim would take me about 10 days, but in the end it took me 21 days to reach the North Sea."

And like most river stage swims, the local authorities had their say in the matter. "The Port of London Authority refused to give me permission to swim through London. They said I would be a danger to shipping and that the section was too dangerous to swim."

Yet he decided to push on and ignore the bureaucratic governing body. "I believed they did not have the legal authority to do so. There were some heated negotiations with the Harbour Master threatening to arrest me."

But similar to others who swim for specific environmental causes, there were also many highlights that helped spur him on. "Hundreds of people came out to support me. Lots of friends jumped into the river and swam sections with me. And when I reached London (the 250km mark), the Prime Minister invited me to No 10 to discuss what steps should be taken to halt to climate change. Shortly afterwards, the UK enacted the Climate Change Act which regulates carbon emissions."

To date, Pugh remains the only person to have swum the full length of the Thames, although a number of swimmers have swum sections of it. Most famously, comedian David Walliams swam 230 km (140 miles) from Lechlade to Westminster Bridge and raised over £1 million for charity in the process. Allison Streeter and Kevin Murphy have swum from Gravesend to Richmond (67km) in the tidal section of the Thames.

In 2012, a protester swam into the middle of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, causing the race to be restarted. The demonstration led to the Port of London Authority banning all swimming in the tidal section of the Thames without permission. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London expressed himself in a letter to the Daily Telegraph that said, "It’s time for the elf and safety fanatics to take a running jump – off the pier at Putney."

Pugh agrees, "It should be the right of every Briton to joyfully swim in the rivers of Great Britain unhindered - the Thames included."



Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images for Investec.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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