Henley Classic history

First swum back in 2004, when two of the organisers, Tom Kean and Jeremy Laming, decided their backs had finally had enough of rowing and it might be nice to swim the Henley Regatta course. To do this without disrupting the rowing community, they arranged to start at dawn. News got around and each year more people turned up to join them. 2017 will see maximum numbers swim the course by the time rowers arrive to practice.

Henley Swim

Henley Swim is passionate about creating unique open water swimming events. Since the first swim in 2004, the Henley Classic has now been joined by three more events: the Thames Marathon, the Henley Mile and the Club to Pub.

“Cutting through the early morning mist along the most famous rowing regatta course in the world ranks as one of my most memorable sporting experiences ever. The Henley Classic is a must for all aquatic enthusiasts from the professional to the recreational.” – Greg Whyte – OBE

Henley Swim

2014 Henley Classic swim 29th June 04:30am – one of the worlds top swims, featuring some of the worlds top swimmers. 2016 will see Oxford and Cambridge do battle over the Classic course for the third open water varsity match

Swimming the Henley Course.

“There is always a sense of foreboding before any mass participation sporting challenge, but with the Henley Classic those negative feelings are blown away by the mystical nature of the event. The torch-light walk to the start, the mist swirling above the river, the moon full and radiant, the sun just threatening to burst from behind the hill, gives the whole event the feeling of a pagan festival rather than a seriously tough physical test” – Graham Bell – Olympic skier

The Henley Swim Awards, 2011. (Photo ©Lee Irvine www.slikimages.com)

The Inman and Ovey cups – were donated to the Henley Classic swim by the River Rowing museum. They were awarded for open water swimming races on the Henley reach dating back to the 1890’s, making them amongst the most historic and prestigious prizes in British open water swimming.


“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.” – Chrissie Wellington – 4x Ironman World Champion

Swimmers Take Part In The Black Sheep Henley Swim

The annual sporting calendar contains some truly iconic sporting events, many of which are inaccessible to most. The Henley Classic s without doubt amongst the most iconic challenges and, in contrast to other events, is open to all comers.


This was my first open water swim and I absolutely loved it. When it was over I felt a sense of accomplishment. The location and weather were idyllic. Water temperature of 20.7 C made for a very pleasant swim, even with a wetsuit. Overall, very well done to all who contributed to this event.

The Henley Mile was our family’s first experience of open water we all loved it, including our son. Next year we’ll be back and bringing his younger sister. A great combo of events and innovation