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How much fun can you have in a wetsuit at 4am?

Our intrepid Val Thorp reports on The Henley Classic open water event which took place last month.

If you’ve already entered the ASA Open Water Festival or even if you haven’t, you might be thinking about some open water events to target over the next 12 months. So why not try one of the Henley Swims?

There’s something for everyone from half a mile downstream to the iconic Bridge to Bridge 14k marathon. Having done the Bridge to Bridge twice, I thought I’d downsize and swim the 2.1k Henley Classic this year.

It’s a chance to swim the world famous Henley Royal Regatta course just before the regatta begins. So why is it a ‘classic’?

The 4am start gives you an idea of why this swim is so memorable. Add to that the laser beam that lights the 2.1k upstream course and the unbelievable atmosphere with spectators lining the route.

Were you there for 2016?

I couldn’t believe the number of swimmers and spectators at that time in the morning. The heavy rain in the days leading up to the swim meant there was far more water in the river than normal. This meant the swim was a bit more of a challenge than usual!

So much so that organiser Jeremy Laming remarked that in years to come when people mention the Henley Classic we’d all be able to say “ah yes, but you weren’t there in 2016!”

Mist rises over the Henley Classic open water swim 2016.

It is a brilliantly run event with a pasta party the night before, camping next to the river if you wish and breakfast provided after the swim. And of course, like so many of these events, a wonderful team of volunteers and safety crew.

Come and say hello!

In addition to the Classic and Bridge to Bridge, Henley Swim also run the Henley Mile which has distances for all the family including a swim show. The 2016 Henley Mile takes place this weekend on 11 July.

The ASA will be having a stand there so please say hello to our friendly Masters Officer!

But my personal favourite is the Club to Pub. What’s not to like about finishing a 1.5k swim at a pub with a BBQ? And your medal for finishing is in the shape of a bottle opener!

Why not find a place in your open water timetable for one of these?

The Open Water Festival Challenge Entry deadline extended to Monday 11 July 2016 midday so it’s still not too late to enter – go on, have a go!