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Swim Serpentine inspires thousands to take to the water

Thousands of swimmers have taken to the water at Swim Serpentine in Hyde Park’s famous Serpentine Lake.

Now in its third year, a record breaking 6,000 people of all ages and abilities entered this inspirational open water swimming event that includes half-mile, one-mile, two-mile and 'Super Six' swims.

This year, swimmers have been able to get up close to the incredible floating sculpture, the London Mastaba by Christo.

Libby Page, bestselling author of The Lido, was one of the first to take to the water and said after her swim: “I’d recommend Swim Serpentine as an amazing way to see London from a different perspective – we’re in a fantastic location here at Hyde Park. I particularly loved doing the women’s-only wave. I think for women who, perhaps like me, started off as a not so confident swimmer, then it’s a nice way to get in and be surrounded by other women who are simply here to have a great time.”

Emilia Richards, 28, of London who had a stroke in her twenties and swam in the half-mile wave said: "It was really great, the atmosphere was wonderful and everyone is having fun. I was a bit nervous beforehand but once I got in the water it was lovely. I'm definitely going to do more open water swimming and come back next year."

The para-swimmers one-mile event saw multi-Invictus Games medallist Nerys Pearce, 36, maintain her undeafeted record at Swim Serpentine. 

Pearce said: "It's the sense of inclusion here and how easy they make it for everybody to compete on a level playing field that makes this event brilliant every year. It doesn't matter whether you're able bodied or a para swimmer - everyone here is looking after each other. This is the third year and it's just getting bigger and bigger."

This year about 750 people are on track to take home a London Classics medal by finishing the two-mile swim to complete the iconic trio of challenges: the London Marathon, Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and Swim Serpentine.

Gail Emms, Olympic medallist and London Classics competitor, said: “When I retired from elite sport, I knew that I would have to find challenges not only to keep my fitness going but also allowing me to step outside my comfort zone, like I did when training for the Olympic Games. Being part of iconic events such as London Marathon, RideLondon and Swim Serpentine has not only pushed me in my training but allowed me to see sport in another way through mass participation and the people around me. It’s been incredibly emotional but I want to show my boys that they can be proud of their mum.”

The Super Six challenge also returned with 60 people taking on the challenge of swimming six miles across the day.

Amy McVitie, 43 from Shepherds Bush, who is swimming the Super Six challenge, said: "I've done the one-mile swims for the last two years and I've come out of the water feeling I'd like to do more, so in a moment of madness I thought, 'Let's do six miles'. It's one of the few open water swims in London and brilliantly organised. It's a really good event."

This year, for the first time, Swim Serpentine includes inspirational talks and film screenings in a brand new festival marquee. The free festival celebrates the inspirational characters and incredible adventures from the world of open water swimming.

Jenny Landreth, author of Swell: A Waterbiography, The Sunday Times Sport Book of the Year 2017, who is speaking at the festival, said: "Swimming is such a fantastic sport on so many levels - it’s great for your physical health, but being outside in open water can really boost your mental health too. And the great thing is, it works whatever age or ability you are. The more you get in, the more you get out of it."

Hugh Brasher, Swim Serpentine Event Director, said: "This is such a fantastic event and it gets bigger every year. We have had a record 6,000 entries this year, a thousand more than in 2017.

“Open water swimming in the heart of London is really inspiring. Being able to get up close to the incredible floating sculpture, the Mastaba, makes the event even more special.

“We are delighted to have added our festival marquee to this year’s event with films and speakers that celebrate the inspiring characters and incredible adventures from the world of open water swimming.

“Swim Serpentine really is one of the best open water swimming events in the world.”