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Highlights from the British Open Water Swimming Championships

The inaugural 2016 Swim Serpentine concluded in style today with an action-packed British Open Water Swimming Championships.

The day got off to a damp start but the sunshine soon emerged, taking the water temperature to over 17°C. The calm and clear conditions provided swimmers with the perfect environment for competition.

It was double victory for Germany in the elite invitation races as first 29-year-old Andreas Waschburger reigned supreme over the three laps of the course, slapping the finish board in a time of 54:52 to take home the £1500 prize money. Pepijn Smits (NED) narrowly pipped Tom Allen of Wales to second place, 13 seconds behind Waschburger.

“It proved an enjoyable race for me and it was a special moment to swim here in the Serpentine once again," said Waschburger. "I was here for London 2012, my first Olympics, so it holds fond memories for me. If I can return to this wonderful venue next year, I’ll be here.” 

In the women's elite race, Isabelle Haerle (GER) reached for the board in 57:41, nearly two minutes ahead of her compatriot Sarah Bosslet in second place.

“Most open water races are out in the sea, so the fact that everyone can watch the race here was wonderful,” said 28-year-old Haerle. “If we could swim in more open water races like this, it would be perfect. The venue was great, as was the organisation, so I’d said that it was better than the Rio Olympics.”

Team GB’s open water swimming star Jack Burnell did not swim but provided the crowds with his expert knowledge, commentating alongside former British Olympian Cassie Patten.

Burnell said: “The organisation for the event has been second to none, down to the smallest details, which helps to entice top international swimmers such as Waschburger, Haerle and Smits.

Having an international field here gave the Brits racing something to strive for. It’s okay swimming against people in your own country but one day you have to go up to the world stage, so to bring athletes like that here is a huge credit to the event.”

The day began with two 1.6k para elite races. The first race saw 31-year-old Mike Goody, a former RAF serviceman and an eight-time Invictus Games champion, come home in 20:49, over one minute thirty seconds clear of his nearest rival.

“When I came down to scope out the course yesterday, I’ll admit that I was a little bit nervous ahead of the race, but today I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Goody. “I expected an interesting race. Coming past the lido, conditions became quite choppy and a coot nearly hit me on the head, but I found my cadence and just adopted my inner Finding Nemo, with ‘Just Keep Swimming’ in my head.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to spread the word of open water swimming. If today helps open the door for open water swimming to become a para sport that would be fantastic. Why shouldn’t there be distance events for those with disabilities? It’s so much fun and there are plenty that regularly do it.”

In the women’s para event, Danielle Hartin from Canvey Island, Essex, surpassed expectations to win in her very first open water swim. The 14-year-old clocked 24:23 well ahead of second-placed Jordan Margery who finished in 25.44.

Seven other races featured a wide range of age groups, from 13/14 girls and boys races right up to the 40+ classes for men and women with Burnell kept busy presenting the winners with their medals.

Among the standout performances, birthday girl Emily Dowding celebrated her 18th birthday in the 3.2k 17-18 youths race with victory in 42:38.

“I really wanted to secure the win today so it’s great to come out with the victory. The plan was to get off to a good start and remain in front, which I managed to execute.

“It’s evident from this weekend that momentum is definitely building with open water swimming. I swim a lot in open water, as I love the fact that you can swim outdoors in so many beautiful places, but I’ve never been in the Serpentine previously, so I’m proud to have done so well here, especially today.”

Spectators and swimmers enjoyed the racing and two displays from London-based synchronised swimming team Seymour Synchro. Off the water, there was plenty to do with the fun and games of the paddle boating, water zorbing and virtual reality experiences.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events Ltd. “Swim Serpentine has shown the world the very best of open water swimming in the wonderful setting of the Serpentine and I’m sure it’s inspired many of the thousands of spectators to try open water swimming. We are very grateful to The Royal Parks for making this event possible.”

Results in brief

Elite Men (5k) 
1. Andreas Waschburger (54:52)

Elite Women (5k)
1.Isabelle Haerle (57:41)

Para Elite Men (1.6k)
1. Mick Goody (20:49)

Para Elite Women (1.6k)
1. Danielle Hartin (24:23)

13/14 Girls (1.6k)
1. Laura Cook (20:24)

13/14 Boys (1.6k)
1. Oliver Duckworth (20:44)

15/16 Girls (1.6k)
1. Maisie Macartney (19:56)

15/16 Boys (1.6k)
1. Billy Hendry (19:52)

17/18 Youth Men (3.3k)
1. Samuel Crabtree (39:07)

19-24 Age Group Swimmers (Male) (3.3k)
1. James Manning (47:44)

17/18 Youth Women (3.3k)
1. Emily Dowding (42:38)

19-24 Age Group Swimmers (Women) (3.3k)
1. Rebecca Gravell (46:09)

Mixed Age Masters Champs Men 25-29 (3.3k)
1. Adam Warner (42:30)

Mixed Age Masters Champs Women 25-29 (3.3k)
1. Hannah Bennett (46:33)

Mixed Age Masters Champs Men 30-34 (3.3k)
1. Aaron Yeoman (42:34)

Mixed Age Masters Champs Women 30-34 (3.3k)
1. Jessica Thorpe (46:32)

Mixed Age Masters Champs 35-39 Men (3.3k)
1. Pip Bennett (42:30)

Mixed Age Masters Champs Women 35-39 (3.3k)
1. Carol Cashell (46:45) 

Full results from every race at Swim Serpentine are available here.