Henley Classic

THE HENLEY CLASSIC is a 2.1 km endurance upstream River Thames swimming event, held over the Henley Royal Regatta course, very early on the Sunday morning before the Wednesday start of Henley Royal Regatta.


Entries for this event are currently open

Download the Henley Classic Information Pack for full event details.

Henley Classic walk to the start

Event Details

This event is a celebration of mid-summer. It provides a unique opportunity to swim one of the most famous and beautiful stretches of open water in the world, at what we believe is the most beautiful time of the day, dawn. A key feature of the event is that you arrive in darkness and walk the 1/4 of a mile to the start into the sunrise, led by the torch carrier.

The Henley Classic Passing Temple Island

The waves go off in quick succession, starting with the Elite race waves and finishing with the Sporting category wave.

After completing your swim you’ll then have the pleasure of walking back to the main event area whilst cheering the following swimmers on their way.

The swim is like no other open water swim you will have ever experienced; getting into the inky black water at that time of day is a slightly surreal experience and the feeling of having done it before most people have even woken up is very satisfying.

Entry Categories & Wave Details

Elite – view the Henley Classic Elite Race Entry Criteria here
Open – Men & Women
– Men & Women (Speedos or swimsuits only)
Masters 45-54
– Men & Women (on the day of the race)
Masters 55 & above
– Men & Women (on the day of the race)
Junior – Men & Women aged 14 to 18 (on the day of the race)
Sporting category
– A single (non-competitive) category for both Men & Women

Excluding the Sporting category, all other categories are split into Men and Women.

Please Note: All competitive entry category entrants will be required to provide an average 1500m swim time.

The Sporting Category is a non-competitive category, however, you will still wear a numbered swimming cap with timing chip in order to give you a finishing time and you will still need to adhere to all the other rules of the race, but other than that, you are free to go off at your own pace. Having said that, as with the race, you need to look at the conditions of entry and you still need to be a strong swimmer.

Due to a number of contributory factors (time of day, potential water/air temperature, and the fact that this is a 2.1km upstream swim), you need to be an experienced swimmer to take part in the racing categories of this event. Our recommendation is that you are capable of comfortably carrying out regular continuous pool swims of 3km, and have taken part in a number of open water swims prior to this event.

The Sporting category is aimed at less experienced swimmers who are not concerned with racing the course, however, you should still be able to confidently swim 3km in the pool.

The Henley Classic Elite Race will feature a separate race for men and women.
The Prize Money for both races has been confirmed as £500 to the winner of both races.

Entries to the Elite race are on an invitation only basis. To view the entry criteria for this race, download here. Meeting this criteria does not guarantee entry to the Elite race and the Event Manager’s decision is final. If you meet the entry criteria and wish to race please contact Georgina Tomkins at georgina@henleyswim.com, detailing the relevant eligibility criteria.

Waves will go off at 3 to 5 minute intervals, and will be split by entry category and time criteria, as defined below:-

  • Elite Men
  • Elite Women
  • Performance
  • Men – Open, Masters, Traditional & Junior (up to three waves depending on numbers – these will be split by 1500m swim time)
  • Women - Open, Masters, Traditional & Junior (up to two waves depending on numbers - these will be split by 1500m swim time)
  • Sporting (Men & Women)

This event will also feature a Performance Wave, to make sure that our seriously competitive swimmers get the best possible race experience, by racing alongside their closest competitors. This will be run just after the Elite Waves and before the first Men’s Wave.

Henley Classic Performance WaveIn order to make this a true test, this wave is only open to swimmers who have taken part in the Henley Classic before and have completed the course in less than 34 minutes. If you have swum the Henley Mile in less than 23 minutes you will also be eligible to enter this wave. If you have not swum the event before but are an experienced swimmer and are completing swims in the pool over 1500m in a time under 22 minutes, you would also be eligible to apply to enter this wave. There will be a maximum number of 75 (to be confirmed).

Please note that if you enter this wave you will still be competing within your original Race Category.

How to Apply
You will have the opportunity to enter this wave on the Additional Activities section when you make your online entry.

It is also possible to enter as a team for this event, in either of the following team categories:-

  • Open Men’s Team (consisting of Traditional, Open or Masters)
  • Open Women’s Team (consisting of Traditional, Open or Masters)
  • Mixed Open Team (2 men & 2 women)
  • Junior Men’s Team
  • Junior Women’s Team

Team prizes will be awarded for each category, based on the cumulative total time recorded for each member of the team.

How to Enter your Team
When you make your Henley Mile entry, simply select this option on the Additional Activities page and confirm your Team Name. All four team members will be required to complete this information.

Please note that all team members must already be entered in the Henley Classic or your team will be void.

Entry Fees
The Entry Fee is £41.

Medals are presented to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd for each category, men & women.
Every participant will receive a branded swimming cap.

Entry Process
The entry process for this event is via online entry, on a first come first served basis.

Additional Event Features

This popular evening event will once again be held on the Saturday evening prior to the Henley Classic, between 5 and 8pm. The evening will be in the style of an “all you can eat” Italian Pasta evening, including a choice of 3 sauces and a soft drink.

£11 per head when booked in advance
£13 per head on the evening.

Sleep & Eat Special Offer
For those who will be camping, we can also offer an early bird “Sleep & Eat Pass” for £19 per person, once again bookable on line when you make your race entry.

A cash bar and general cafe with snacks will also be available within the main event area.

Please Note: Pasta Party bookings are non refundable. Please read the Pasta Party Terms & Conditions of booking for full details.

The venue will be open on Saturday afternoon from 4pm for anyone who would like to register for the event early, to save time on the Sunday morning. Further details will be provided nearer the time.

Event Location & Course Details

The Henley Classic is hosted at the Temple Island Meadows, which is just ¾ mile from Henley town centre.

Click here for Temple Island Meadows location details

The course is unique in that it is a straight line point to point swim (ie: no turns) and takes advantage of the boomed course of the Henley Royal Regatta. Click on the course map to enlarge

Henley Classic Course Map

Venue Facilities

Parking is available at the venue
Toilets, changing facilities and showers will be provided
Hot & cold drinks & snacks will be available at the main event area.

Camping is available in Glebe campsite, with on-site facilities including toilets and showers. This is just a short walk to the main event area and is ¾ mile from Henley town centre.

Advance booking Prices
Camping spaces are £11 per person per night.
Under 12s camp for FREE
Campervans are £16 per night.
These can be booked online when you make your race entry. Email confirmation is sent out in advance and this needs to be presented when booking in on site.

Camping Booking Terms
Camping bookings are non refundable. Please read the Camping Terms & Conditions of booking for full details. No dogs are allowed at the campsite.
Please see the venue terms & conditions before making your booking:-

On the day Prices
Camping is £15 per person per night.
Campervans are £20 per night.

Payment is taken on entry.

Event Facilities

Blueseventy wetsuit hireOur event partner blueseventy will be providing wetsuit hire for this event. For full details of the Sprint wetsuit see our wetsuit hire page.

blueseventy will also have a selection of swimwear, goggles and accessories to cater for any needs you may have on the day.

Sports Massage
Therapy4Fitness logoPost race massages will be provided by our Sports Massage partner, Therapy4Fitness.
Sessions are £12 for 15 minutes or £22 for 30 minutes. If you would prefer to save waiting and book in advance, this can be done when entering online.

Henley Swim hoodies, Henley Classic t-shirts, Robie Robes and other event memorabilia will be available to purchase on the day.