History was made at Swim Serpentine this morning [Saturday] as a select group of swimmers completed a two-mile open water swimming challenge to become the first to complete the iconic London Classics challenge.
Double Olympic rowing champion Heather Stanning was among the group that finished the two-mile distance at Swim Serpentine and became the first participants to enter the London Classics Hall of Fame.
The London Classics is a unique sporting challenge comprising the greatest and most iconic running, cycling and swimming mass participation events in the world. It requires people to run the Virgin Money London Marathon, cycle 100 miles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and swim the new two-mile distance at Swim Serpentine, the open water swimming festival.
The first person across the line at Swim Serpentine to complete the London Classics was Terry Bonnett, aged 38, from Wendover. He ran the London Marathon in 2010 and cycled Prudential RideLondon in 2017. He rode the 100-mile event on a tandem with his girlfriend Lisa Angus and proposed to her at the top of Box Hill.
Bonnett, a former triathlete, said: “It is very surreal to be the first person to complete the London Classics. I heard about the London Classics when we were training for Prudential RideLondon and I just had to enter. I had a really good swim today and this is a fantastic event. It’s very cool to be in the Hall of Fame and the medal is great.”
The first woman to complete the London Classics was Sally Blick, aged 37, from Hastings. She ran the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2012 and completed Prudential RideLondon in 2014.
Blick said: “I’m a swimmer by heart and I saw the medal and thought ‘I have to have one’. I love the bling. Out of all of them, the cycling was the hardest. I’m not great on a bike. I’ve only swum in open water once before and I didn’t expect to be first. I just wanted to come and have fun. I would definitely do them all again!”
London 2012 and Rio 2016 gold medallist Stanning, who has completed the three challenges in one calendar year, said: “I really enjoyed it. I was nervous about the swim but it was fantastic. Of all the London Classics, I found the marathon the hardest and Prudential RideLondon the easiest as I did a lot of cycling as part of my rowing training. The swim was probably the one I enjoyed the most. I swam a lot as a child and training for this has brought back a lot of those memories.
“It’s a fantastic medal. My Olympic golds are tucked away so, who knows, this could be the one that ends up on display. I thought doing all the London Classics in one year would be a great challenge in my first year since retiring from rowing.”
Everyone who completes the London Classics receives a specially-designed medal and their name is entered in the London Classics Hall of Fame.
The medal is engraved with the Latin words: Et ego Londinium vici (translation: I too have conquered London).
There is no time limit on completing the London Classics and the challenge is open to anyone who has run the London Marathon since 1981 and cycled the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 since 2013.
Hugh Brasher, London Marathon Events Director, said: “Today we saw the first people complete the London Classics, one of the world’s great sporting challenges, comprising the greatest marathon and cycling festival in the world and this inspirational open water swimming event. We welcome our finishers to the Hall of Fame and we hope the London Classics will inspire tens of thousands to try a new sport and complete this iconic challenge.”
Swim Serpentine is a one-day open water swimming festival taking place today in the world-famous Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park with nearly 5,000 people entered in the different events. There are half-mile, one-mile and two-mile waves taking place throughout the day as well as festival activities for spectators.