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Linford Christie, Jamaican-born British sprinting legend and 1992 Olympic 100m gold medallist, smiles with Hollywood star Minnie Driver, before taking part in the half-mile swim




Stars of sport and screen make a splash

“It’s so different to swimming in a pool as the Serpentine is so tranquil. You can just flow along, keep going at your own pace, and enjoy being out in the open – every time you turn to breathe you can see the sky.”

Linford Christie

Athletics legend

The Olympic gold medallist compared his pre-swim nerves to the night before an Olympic final: “It was just like being in Barcelona in 1992 all over again. You don’t sleep, then you get up and do your thing!

“It’s my first time in the Serpentine, which considering I’m a Londoner is amazing; it was just as good as I expected it to be. The Serpentine is such an iconic venue, so many great people have swum here – including Keri-anne Payne, who coached me – so it’s nice to swim here, everyone should give it a go.

“And if you can’t swim, learn to swim! It’s such a great skill, you’ll never lose it, and you never know when it’s going to come in handy.

“They always say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I learnt to swim recently so I’ve learnt a new trick… It’s not competitive, you’re raising money for charity, and you can take your time and go for your own goal. If I can do it, anyone can do it!”

Hollywood actor Driver also loved taking part in the event for the first time. “I’ve swum in the Serpentine before, but this event was fantastic,” the actor said after exiting the water just ahead of Christie.

“I’d encourage everyone to sign up – anything you can do to raise awareness, or money, for cancer charities is amazing. You don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to be competitive (like me!), it’s about having fun and I’ll definitely be back next year!”

“I’d encourage everyone to sign up – anything you can do to raise awareness, or money, for cancer charities is amazing. It’s about having fun and I’ll definitely be back next year!”

Minnie Driver

Hollywood star

Ahead of Driver and Christie, Theo Treadwell was first out of the water after putting in a fast half-mile swim. “This is my first time at the Serpentine and I loved it. The venue is great and the scenery was lovely – if I had to describe it in one word, I’d say it was phenomenal!”

With around 5,000 people signed up for the event, the atmosphere around the lake was buzzing as happy participants enjoyed the late summer sun, many of them raising funds and awareness for the charity Children with Cancer UK.

The swimmers taking part had a choice of four distances – ranging from a half-mile option to the Super Six event, where swimmers cover six miles ­– making it perfect for all ages and abilities.

More than 800 swimmers are also on track to take home a London Classics medal, which they’ll receive when they finish the two-mile swim to complete the iconic trio of events that make up the challenge: the London Marathon, the RideLondon 100 and Swim Serpentine.

Jason Ochoa, Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine Event Director, was delighted to see the event return today after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic: “After a challenging 18 months, it’s brilliant to welcome so many swimmers and their supporters to the Serpentine today.

“There’s an amazing atmosphere both in and out of the water, with swimmers of all ages and abilities encouraging each other, having fun and raising money for charity – and their friends and families cheering them on around the lake is lovely to see.

“The return of mass participation events like Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine is such a positive step. We’re already planning the 2022 event so come along and join us for a swim you’ll never forget!”