The 17th King William’s College bay swim saw 33 competitors swim half a mile in open water in impressive times.
This year, the weather was glorious, there was hardly any wind to speak of and the sea was an almost pleasant 13C, a welcome contrast to the harsh conditions of last year.
The competitors proved their mettle by completing the GT test and half-mile qualifying swim. There were 16 boys, 11 girls and six members of staff, 22 of whom were first timers.
Once on the breakwater, the swimmers were soon ‘greased up’ and ready to take the eight-foot plunge.
Fastest qualifier this year was Duncan Wilson who had been third in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013. He took an early lead and arrived at the first buoy in four mins 25 secs, 28 seconds ahead of Anna Hall, who was just one second ahead of Eoghain Sherrard.
William Groth was at this stage lying in fourth place followed by Katrin Grifka and Pippa Slater who were neck and neck.
Duncan gradually extended his lead and reached the perch in nine mins 25 secs, with the chasers maintaining the positions they held at the first buoy. Closing in on the top six swimmers were Julian vanVeen, Holly King, Patrick Cope and Aiden Hawker who were all jostling for positions as they rounded the perch.
The midfield swimmers were evenly matched and with many close battles developing on the homeward leg, there was eventually only two minutes separating fifth to 15th places. Included in this was the youngest competitor, 13-year-old Patrick Cope, who finished 7th equal. Libby Dutnall, the youngest girl, battled it out against elder brother Tom, eventually finishing just one minute behind him in 17th position.
Duncan kept his lead throughout the race. His winning time of 14 mins 30 secs was 37 seconds faster than second-place swimmer Anna, with Eoghain third. The fastest times set by Luke Guthrie (10mins 58secs, 2012), and Gabrielle Henrard (12mins 37 sec, 1994) remained intact.
The first member of staff to finish was Matt Crabtree.
Just behind him was Clare Ledger whose swimming has come a long way since she first completed the swim as a pupil in 2000, recording a time of 37mins 30 secs. This year, after completing the Great North Swim (just three days before) she achieved a personal best time of 20mins 2 secs. Zoe McAndry also secured her 13th finish.
Susie Ross, PE teacher, said: ‘We are very grateful to the many helpers, be it in large ribs, small motor or row boats and kayaks who monitored, encouraged and kept the swimmers on course, and also thank the many volunteers whose support continues to make this special and challenging event possible. Congratulations to all competitors for their courage and determination and for providing spectators with a magnificent spectacle.
‘The Derbyhaven Bay Swim embodies everything that is King William’s College. There is the tradition of the event, its utter uniqueness and its ability to stretch the pupils above and beyond their comfort zone. There is no doubt participating (and even watching it) will remain in the memories of those for many years to come.’
Pictured left to right are Anna Hall runner up, principal Martin Humphreys and winner Duncan Wilson