I have been trying to get an entry into the Henley Classic for about four years now. The race is always over subscribed and sells out within minutes of entries going live. This year the organisers used a ballot system and I have been lucky enough to get an entry :-). I first heard of the race a few years ago when I was out riding with the Berkshire Tri Squad, and Michael Hiscott told me he had been swimming in the Thames at 4.30am that morning. After much discussion and Michael telling me how much he had enjoyed watching the sun rise as he swam towards Henley, I decided that this is a must do race for me. Not because I though I could win (I was learning to swim properly and could just about manage to swim 1500m at the time) but It seem just a great event. On the first Sunday before the famous Henley regatta you get to swim the rowing course at stupidly early O’clock. So if you are in Henley on Sunday the 24th June and coming out of a club or late night bar you could see up to 400 nutters in the river.
Blimey look at the start times;
Safety briefing 4.10am
Race start 4.30am
"This event originated as a swim in 2004, when two of the organisers, Tom Kean and Jeremy Laming, decided their backs had finally had enough of rowing and that it might be nice to swim the Henley Regatta course. So they could do this safely and without disrupting the rowing community at a busy time of the year, dawn was decided as the best time of day to do it, and that Jeremy’s old rowing club (Upper Thames) was the best place to meet.
Once they got over the shock of first light being 0400, the swim was unlike any they had done before. Thanks partly to some amazing photos and lots of talking, the following year a group of approximately 20 people assembled to do the swim at the same time. Since then the swim continued to grow until the numbers became so great that in 2008 it was run as an ‘official’ event, and has now evolved into the Henley Classic".
If you look at Ian Weir’s web site You can find lot of high quality photos from previous years.
And Finally I have embedded a you tube video from the Henley web site hope you enjoy.