Open water swimming fans Minnie Driver and Linford Christie ready to dive in as Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine returns
Open water swimming converts Minnie Driver and Linford Christie will be taking part in the Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine event on Saturday 18 September – and there is still time to join them. Entries will close on Monday [6 September] for the must-do event in Hyde Park’s iconic Serpentine lake, which is making a highly anticipated return after last year’s event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
Brought to you by the team behind the Virgin Money London Marathon and RideLondon, Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine has become a staple of London’s late-summer calendar offering half-mile, one-mile and two-mile distances to cater for a range of ages and abilities.
Register your interest for the 2020 event now and make sure you don't miss out on a place in next year's open water swimming festival.
This year, Hollywood star Minnie Driver, who has appeared in blockbusters such as Good Will Hunting, will be doing the one-mile swim in the Serpentine after falling in love with open water swimming.
Meanwhile 1992 Olympic 100m gold medallist and track legend Linford Christie will be taking on the half-mile swim after also falling for open water swimming in his late fifties.
They are not alone in their love of the deep blue, with a report from Outdoor Swimmer magazine released in February this year showing that, in the UK alone, participation in outdoor swimming is estimated to have risen by up to three times since 2019, with 45 per cent of swimmers saying they’ve increased the amount they swim outside in 2020. Female participation in particular has increased from 50 per cent in 2017 to 65 per cent in 2020 and many say outdoor swimming is essential to their mental health. That trend is evident with entries to this year’s event proving as popular as ever.
Those figures, however, are in stark contrast to concerning statistics from Sport England, which state that 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children in England do not swim. The World Health Organization also warns that the risk of drowning is higher among minority ethnic communities.
Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine is part of a movement to change that and make swimming more accessible, more enjoyable and safer for all.
“Knowing how to swim is such an important skill to have, no matter who you are or where you come from. I didn’t learn until I was in my late fifties and to begin with, I was terrible. But now I love it and for me to be able to do that is one of my proudest achievements to date,” Christie says.
“It’s one of those things like riding a bike, you never forget it and it allows you to get so much joy out of life. Open water swimming is so peaceful and tranquil, it’s an escape from everyday life and any opportunity I have to get out there I take it. I encourage everyone to give it a go.”
In the event’s relatively short five-year history, it has had a marked influence on swimmers young and old, both experienced and new to the sport, with many touting the profound effects of open water swimming on the mind, body and soul.
Children with Cancer UK is the UK’s leading national cancer charity dedicated to the fight against cancer in children and young people. Fundraising from their swimmers at the event will ensure investment can be made into vital specialist research to save the life of every child with cancer.
Yvonne West, Sports Manager at Children with Cancer UK says, “Children with Cancer UK is delighted to once again support Swim Serpentine. We are looking forward to seeing the swimmers get back to enjoying the water in the iconic Serpentine and supporting so many good causes again this year.
“Every day in the UK, 12 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer, sadly, of those 12, two will not survive the disease. Through events like Swim Serpentine, Children with Cancer UK is able to continue to fund our vital, life-saving research to help more children and young people diagnosed with cancer survive to ring their end-of-treatment bell.”
To enter Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine on Saturday 18 September, sign up before noon on Monday 6 September at swimserpentine.co.uk.