The Henley Swim

The Henley Swim - or the Henley Classic, to call this particular event by its official name - is an open water swimming event held on the Henley Royal Regatta course on the Thames, before dawn on the last Sunday in June each year. It involves a devastatingly early alarm - anyone who claims "it's not that bad" is just lying - as the swimmers are in the water and ready to go at 4:30am. But the upside is that you'll see a sunrise in June, and feel like you've had a full day out before looking at your watch and realising it is not yet even 7am. That is a weird feeling!

I took some photos at the 2014 event, and am already looking forward to another early start this year...

Sleepy swimmers arrive onsite and register.

New for 2014 was a super powerful laser which shone down the full length of the course...

...past the registration area and off into the distance! It was spectacular.

Everyone marches down the path together to the start. It is still VERY early and VERY dark. After a briefing, the first hints of a glowing red sunrise arrive as final adjustments are made to swimming caps and goggles.

After some chatting on the river bank, it's time to get in the water. CANNONBALL! There are various categories on the day including a traditional category, and a good number are taking the speedos-only approach.

And they're off! The swimmers complete the full Royal Regatta course from start to finish - 1 mile 550 yards, against the stream.

It actually turned out to be a fairly grey morning, albeit with a few slithers of golden light from time to time.

The finish line. I swam this event once, and I was extremely glad to see it!

Happy faces at the finish, a great event. H2Open magazine ran a photo from the event - that laser is pretty eye catching! (Thanks to Jeremy for the screen grab).