09:18AM, Friday 20 July 2018
An 80-year-old swimmer who was one of the first to emerge from the water in the Boulters to Bray swim plans to return and take on the challenge next year.
Mike Hughes took part in the swim on Saturday, July 7 – 50 years after he came first in the event for the second time.
The tradition, which dates back to the 19th century, was discontinued a year later in 1969 but was revived in 2012.
Mike returned to the Thames this year and came 11th out of more than 230 participants.
He said: “It was incredible, it was 21 degrees.
“We were wearing wetsuits which is actually an advantage as it gives you some buoyancy.”
A natural who began swimming at the age of three, Mike progressed to swimming competitively at county level.
It is thanks to a love of swimming that Mike met his wife. He said: “Jo and I met at the swimming pool in Bury St Edmunds in 1959 when I was in the RAF at Honington.”
“I won all the men’s cups at the club gala that year.”
By the time they were married two years later they were men’s and women’s swimming captains. They moved to Maidenhead in 1964.
After raising their three children in Maidenhead, Mike and Jo moved to Brockenhurst in 1998, where they have an outdoor 10m pool which Mike takes advantage of most days.
He said: “It’s a good all-round exercise and keeps you generally fit, I think.”
“I’ve got poorish knees now, I used to play tennis but I can’t as much now the knees are giving up.”
It is likely that Mike will be just as much of a contender at next year’s swim on July 6.
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