Download the blueseventy Bridge to Bridge Information Pack for full details of this event.
Swum in the style of a ‘sportive’, this event is more relaxed than a race, and is aimed at serious open water swimmers who would like to include a long distance challenge in their summer open water swimming season. It’s not a race as such, but an opportunity for you to test yourself and take in the surroundings at the same time. Anyone who has ventured downstream from Henley will talk of stunning scenery hardly ever seen. The swim is organised into a group format, with teamwork making this a fun and satisfying event with a difference.
And don’t forget it’s with the stream which makes progress feel surprisingly easy – a bit like cycling with a tail wind the whole way!
Entry Categories & Fees
Due to the long distance of this swim, this is only suited to seasoned endurance open water swimmers. You should certainly be capable of comfortably completely 8km swims, and it is advisable that you have already swum at least one 10km event before to ensure you are fully prepared to swim this 14km marathon swim. Your experience will greatly determine the category that you enter, as detailed below.
Guide to Swim Times
The table below is an approximate guide for the swim times that entrants should be able to achieve if taking part in this event. These times are based on our 2012 event, which was under favourable conditions with a moderate flow, and include four foodstops:-
|Hours to complete||Minutes per km||Km per hour|
|3 (180 minutes)||12.9||4.7|
|4 (240 minutes)||17.1||3.5|
|5 (300 minutes)||21.4||2.8|
|6 (360 minutes)||25.7||2.3|
As a guide, you should be aiming to complete your swim in under 3 hours 45 minutes (including four short stops), swimming each km between 11 to 16 minutes, which rougly equates to a speed of around 5.3 to 3.8 km per hour.
As a guide, you should be aiming to complete your swim between 3 hours 45 minutes and 4 hours 30 minutes (including four stops), swimming each km between 16.1 to 19.3 minutes, which rougly equates to a speed of around 3.7 to 3.1 km per hour.
As a guide, you should be aiming to complete your swim between 4 hours 30 minutes and 6 hours (including four stops), swimming each km between 19.4 to 25.7 minutes, which rougly equates to a speed of around 3.2 to 2.3 km per hour.
Non Wetsuit Categories
Non Wetsuit Entry Process
Due to the demands of this swim, applications for Non Wetsuit entries are considered on a case by case basis. If you would like to enter a Non Wetsuit category, email firstname.lastname@example.org, providing details of your cold water swimming experience, including distances and times, etc. If your application is accepted, you will be contacted and provided with an entry form link, so that you can make your entry online.
Please Note: The deadline for Non Wetsuit entries is 11th July 2013.
The Wetsuit Entry Fee is £77
This covers the costs for all safety measures, food during the swim, insurance, use of the facilities at the Henley and Marlow host venues and other event expenses. It does not include food and drinks at the end of the swim.
The entry closing date for wetsuit entries is 4th August 2013.
Non Wetsuit Entry Fees
Individual Kayak Support – £122
This covers the costs for all safety measures, including individual kayak support, food during the swim, insurance, use of the facilities at the Henley and Marlow host venues and other event expenses. It does not include food and drinks at the end of the swim.
Additional Kayak Support – £92
This covers the costs for all safety measures, including additional kayak support, food during the swim, insurance, use of the facilities at the Henley and Marlow host venues and other event expenses. It does not include food and drinks at the end of the swim.
The entry closing date for non wetsuit entries are 11th July 2013.
Swim & Course Details
Waves & Swim Groups
Details have yet to be finanlised, however, it is likely that swimmers will be started in waves at Henley, according to their entry category, guided by support canoes as they make their way down the first reach to Hambleden Lock.
These groups will then be “allocated” into smaller groups, depending on speed. After that point you will be expected to stay together and work as a pod, meaning the faster swimmers will need to encourage and assist the slower ones at various times.
This is a point-to-point long distance swim, from Henley to Marlow.
It is 14.1 km with the stream.
The course is split into 4 stages, initially running from Henley Bridge to Hambledon Lock, a distance of 4km, where the swimmers stay close to the Berkshire bank until they exit and then re-join the river south of the lock.
The next stage takes in the familiar landmarks of the Flowerpot, Medmenham, Frogmill and Danesfield before going on the Hurley Lock. After re-entering the river below Hurley, swimmers move to the left hand bank, making their way down to Temple Lock, where they will then embark on the final 2km, after which they will pass Bisham Abbey before exiting the river at Marlow Rowing Club.
Click on the detailed course map below to enlarge
Other Event Information
The Bridge to Bridge starts at Henley Bridge – hosted by Leander Rowing Club; and finishes at Marlow Bridge.
Both Henley and Marlow have public car parks which will be available to use. Parking is free on Sundays in Henley, and there is only a small charge in Marlow. All are within a 5 minute walk of where you need to be!
Please Note:- there is no parking either at Leander or Marlow Rowing Clubs, where you will be getting in and out of the water.
Getting to the start venue
For anyone who does not have a supporter to drive them to the Henley start and collect them in Marlow, there will also be the option to book a minibus place, as follows:-
- Park in Marlow and get the minibus from Marlow to Henley before the swim
- Park in Henley and get the minibus from Marlow to Henley after the swim.
Full details will be confirmed nearer the time. There is limited availability for this service, so please do book in advance. Tickets can be booked online for £5.50 when you make your entry (or can be booked nearer the time when you have made your travel arrangements by accessing your online registration form).
Alternatively, there is generally a ‘buddy system’ in place for those who would like to car share from Marlow to the Henley start venue.
Marlow Venue – Court Gardens Leisure Centre
Toilets, showers & changing facilities will be available at this venue.
A buffet lunch will also be available at Court Gardens. These can be booked in advance online for £6.50.
Our Official Retail Partner Swimshop will be present with a range of swimwear, goggles and accessories to cater for any needs you may have on the day.
Post race massages will be provided by SB Sports Massage.
Sessions are £10 for 15 minutes, bookable in advance by emailing email@example.com
Wetsuit hire and Event memorabilia will be available on the day
Each swimmer will receive an event memento
The Bridge to Bridge long distance swim was first officially held in 2011; for the last decade, a small team of swimmers have swum from Henley Bridge to Marlow Bridge as a ‘season-ender’. We’ve been running this event informally under the format described above, as we think this is the best way to get a bunch of swimmers from A to B, over such a long distance, without it being prohibitively expensive.
2012 Swimmer Comments
Here’s a snapshot of what some of comments we received from last year’s event participants:-
Chrissie Wellington (four times Iron Man world Champion and world record-holder)
I don’t have enough superlatives to describe the Bridge to Bridge swim. It was 14km of heaven! To be able to complete the challenge of swimming from Henley to Marlow, along some of the most beautiful, untouched stretched of the Thames was such a unique, special and incredibly uplifting experience. The race was so well organised: from registration, the race itself and the great post-event celebrations at the end. Of course participants need a minimum fitness level to be able to complete the challenge, but it really is open to all – and the relaxed, sportive nature of the swim ensures that the focus is on teamwork, friendship, fun and camaraderie rather than serious competition. I can’t recommend this event enough, and I hope that it becomes a permanent fixture in every endurance enthusiast’s calendar from now on!”
Mark Billyard (first person to finish – in 2 hours, 50 minutes)
The Bridge to Bridge event provided a great day for everybody involved, not only the swimmers, but also accompanying family and support teams cycling alongside on the banks and intercepting the swimmers at each feed station. This really allowed everybody to feel involved with the swim at every point along the way.
We all felt that the feed stations were particularly well managed, although as the lead group we were encouraged to kick on and maintain our good pace! Back in the water the direction and support given by the kayakers was second to none. They really made those in the water feel comfortable alongside other river users. Myself and my girlfriend both swam within the first two pods, allowing us to swim at our own pace while assisting others and creating a group camaraderie. The style of the event allowed those involved to mix their approach, setting a good early pace, with a steady pace between the middle locks to take in the surroundings, before gently winding up the pace as we approached the finish. The help my club mate Nick Murch was able to provide to a fellow lead pod member throughout the swim really demonstrated the spirit of the event and allowed the pod to finish in a really respectable time. All in all though a thoroughly enjoyable swim!
I am just writing to say how much I enjoyed last weekend’s event. Apart from the amazing location I found the most impressive factor the friendliness and helpfulness of the marshals and support team. In particular, the two ladies that supported us down the river (in pod 9) made us feel as though we were having a swim with a bunch of friends rather than swimming a distance that most of us had never completed before. My overall experience of the event was one of great pleasure! The post swim massage was lovely, as was the t-shirt and certificate. Thanks once again for one of the most enjoyable swims that I have ever competed in.
That was a brilliant day. I’ve swum quite a lot – Hellespont, Staits of Messina and Gibraltar, Dart 10k twice, many Swimtreks – but today was particularly enjoyable, striking exactly the right balance between a race environment and the pleasure of a setting. Every time I looked up there was a house or a bridge or a folly. The volunteers balanced briskness and attentiveness, efficiency and friendliness, perfectly, and the pod system worked very well, as you could settle into a companionable rythm. Thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions
However, for the serious skins swimmers out there, we will consider on a case by case basis entries that will adhere to our ‘Traditional Category’ rules. See full details of our 2013 Non Wetsuit Policy and the costs involved.