Great River Swim renews ancient Thames tradition

Swimmers brave the river to compete for the Pissarro's Trophy


Race Result

Robin Basford 8 mins 8.7 secs
Shawn Blakey 08:14.3
John Griffin 08:23.8
Simon Claridge 08:51.0
Mike Morris 09:16.0
Ian Birch 09:24.1
John Levison 09:36.3
Steve Newell 10:28.6

Michele Ford 10:02.2
Colette O'Neill 10:02.9
Merran Auland 10:05.6

Chiswick Tides

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Pissarro’s on the River

Corney Reach River Swim - 2002


The 2nd Annual Great River Swim off Corney Reach earlier this month attracted a significant number of competitors and competition was fierce. The event which is sponsored by nearby restaurant Pissarro's on the River is held over 500m and this year the water temperate was a relatively comfortable 20 degrees centigrade.

The swim was once again held in the dying minutes of the flood tide before the flotilla of boats taking part in the Great River Race from Richmond to Greenwich came sweeping down past Chiswick Pier.

Safety cover was provided by Tideway Scullers Rowing School and Chiswick Sea Cadets. All competitors completed the course before the tide turned. A third annual race is already being planned for 2004.

The race is reviving a venerable tradition of swimming races in the Thames. Sponsor Dick Gilliver said, "We have evidence that the race was inaugurated in 1907 when they swam from Richmond to Blackfriars. It apparently was an annual event for a number of years. An old man who remembers the race has given us some press cuttings and a picture of a female winner - quite rare in those days I suspect." There are some suggestions that races also tool place in the Thames in the 19th century.

All profits and personal sponsorships will be split between two charities: Chiswick Pier Trust and RNLI.

Swimming races in the tidal Thames are not a recent innovation. Between 1907 and 1939 races were held annually over a 15 mile course from Richmond to Blackfriars.

Other races have been held above Teddington earlier this year. The South London Swimming Club (based at Tooting Bec Lido) held a mile swim from Kingston Bridge recently and further upstream the Royal Windsor Triathlon included a 1500m swim in the Thames. Organisers may try to incorporate a swim into Chiswick Pier Day next summer if the date and time of high tide are both convenient.

September 11, 2003