The 2nd annual Swim Serpentine took place in the heart of London over the weekend, with amateurs and elite athletes alike taking to the Serpentine in Hyde Park. The site served as the venue for the open water swimming competition at the 2012 Olympic Games, therefore, nearly 5,000 swimmers of all ages and abilities were keen to dip their toes in the Serpentine to race 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles or a ‘super six’ course.
Familiar names set themselves apart in the elite one-mile race, with Dutchman Ferry Weertman taking the men’s title. The reigning open water World Champion and Olympic gold medalist just out-touched young 17-year-old Nathan Hughes of Great Britain, who wound up slamming the touchpad just one second shy of Weertman.
Of the race, Weertman commented, “There were some of the top open water swimmers in the world here so he (Nathan) did really well and I hope to see him in international competitions in the future. From my perspective, I’m delighted with the win and pleased that I had the sprint at the beginning of a new season. It’s a great event in the centre of London and the crowds were fantastic. I missed swimming here at the London 2012 Olympics so it was nice to be able to come here and compete today.”
For his part, Hughes said, “It was frustrating because I just went the wrong side of the final buoy as my goggles had steamed up. I felt like I was strong at that point and had enough left and it would have been a great win. Just to be in this race competing against the Olympic champion and other great swimmers was a great opportunity and I hope to get more opportunities like this. I concentrated mainly on the pool last year but this coming season I think I’ll be mixing open water swimming with some of the longer distances in the pool.”
Topping the podium in the women’s elite 1-mile race was two-time Olympic silver medalist from Rio, Jazz Carlin. The Brit was able to edge out Sarah Bosslet of Germany and Danielle Huskisson, also of Great Britain, who finished in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.
After the race, Carlin said, “That was one of my first open water races so it’s always a bit of going into the unknown. It’s the start of my season and a good test to see where my fitness is at. It’s a great event and wonderful to see how many people are swimming here and enjoying it. That’s so great for the sport of swimming. My turns are not my strong point in the pool so it was nice to have no turns today. I’m very inexperienced in open water swimming so I’m really happy to have won.”
Weertman’s Dutch teammate Pepijn Smits was 3rd in that elite 1-miler, while British open water star Jack Burnell finished well back in 14th. Nerys Pearce retained her title in the S5-6 category, while Susie Rodgers won the S7-8 category.