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How The Henley Mile Came To Be

The Henley Mile takes place this year on July 10th 2016. You can find more details and enter here. For a 10% discount on all categories except elite, use the discount code 2016HMSS10. The discount code is valid until 10th June 2016


The Henley Mile is a festival of open water swimming. A day of swimming events in the Thames, in July, for all the family to enjoy. There are a variety of distances, and categories that allow either racing or swimming at a more leisurely pace.   Traditional-Girls SvS-image-HR   The concept was born in August 2010 in an Oxfordshire pub. By then the Henley Classic, a 2.1km upstream dawn swim on the Henley Regatta Course, had been going for 7 years. The founders Tom Kean and Jeremy Laming never intended to be event organisers. What started off as a dare, a cheeky early morning swim, had quickly grown into a business. Tom and Jeremy were reading through the feedback of the 2010 Classic and this is what they saw:
    • Is there a day time event, rather than the slightly intimidating dawn Classic swim?
    • Is there an easier swim I can try first?
    • Is there a more entry level event for new swimmers
    • Is there an event/category that my young daughter can do, and do it with me?
    • Is there an event where my whole family can take part and cheer each other on?
    • Do you have a short distance swim event?
  It was a no brainer. The Henley Mile (or challenge as it was called in its first year) was born.   Mile-Start   Well the idea was born, they had to get round to all the various stakeholders to understand if it was even feasible. Was there a slot in the busy Thames events calendar, would the environment agency give their blessing and close a section of the river, could COPAs (land owners) manage another event, and many other questions. In Jeremy’s words: “Amazingly, as luck would have it, a slot was found on the Sunday after the Henley Masters Regatta, where we could have the boomed Henley Royal regatta course for the whole day. Why is this important? Well the course has 2.1km of wooden booms on the sides of the event stretch meaning that when the course is closed (as it is for the Henley Mile), no powered craft can get anywhere near any of the swimmers. Also newer swimmers find the booms comforting to just know they are there, as they can just grab hold if at any time they have a “moment” (don’t we all)” “The new event had to hit a different mark to the Henley Classic altogether. It had to cater for families where everyone could swim, including kids (as young as 8) over shorter distances (200m). On one hand we wanted it to be the perfect entry level event that people could have as their first open water swim, and on the other have something a bit different to inspire our more established swimmers.”  “We put together what we thought would be some great kids events, but the ‘something a bit different’ was troublesome. Rescue & inspiration came in the form of H2Open’s Simon Griffiths. He hatched an idea to put together an event category that struck right at the heart of the main open water discussion point – ‘to suit or not to suit’ ” “The idea was to swim the Henley mile twice, once in a wetsuit and once without. The plan had a number of strands and purposes. To let people see the difference in their swimming ability, when wearing and not wearing a wetsuit. Also just to let people experience the joy of swimming free without all the technology of modern swimming wetsuits.”   Kids-at-Henley-Mile   Since that first year, the Henley Mile has been tweaked, based on feedback and experience, but the core values remain the same. Last year the H2Open Magazine held their Open Water Swimming Show at the Mile, a mixture of seminars, demonstrations, retail and an endless pool. The show was hugely successful and provided additional entertainment for the swimmers. 2016 will see finishers’ medals for the first time, and the introduction of the Beginners Experience: land and water based coaching from Olympic Gold Medallist Cassie Patten and Open Water Champion Dan Bullock.   Are you going to be taking part this year?

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